Every year, from September 15 to October 15, Americans observe Hispanic Heritage Month, honoring the histories, cultures, and contributions of Hispanic-Americans. In celebration, we’re highlighting three sellers using their eBay businesses to make an impact in their local communities and enrich our global eBay community.
It was curiosity that led Angie Cardona-Nelson (pictured above) to first explore the business potential behind pre-owned electronics and technology. After discovering an office-worth’s of devices at an auction, Angie and her husband suspected many of these electronics had untapped value and started the eBay business eWaste Direct. Now almost a decade later the 2017 SHINE Small Business of the Year has grown into a thriving eco-friendly business with global reach.
“As an immigrant from Colombia, I came to the U.S. with nothing more than a suitcase, some hope and in pursuit of the American dream,” says Angie.
Since its inception, eWaste Direct has diverted over 7 million pounds of e-waste from landfills by refurbishing used electronics and mining precious metals and earth minerals from technology ready to be recycled.
Yet her eBay business has benefitted more than just the planet. With 13 employees and growth on the horizon, Angie plans to use her business to create jobs within her community.
“Today there is a big gap in the workforce for women and immigrants, and I want to help close that gap,” says Angie. “If I am successful, why can’t other people? Our future is bright. It will keep me energized to keep fighting for the rights of women and immigrants and keep growing our company.”
A native of San Juan, Melissa Paz (pictured above right) began selling on eBay as a college student living in Puerto Rico. After moving to the United States in 2013, she again turned to her eBay store, LazyBreeze Deals, to help pay the bills. As the store continued to evolve and grow, Melissa decided to seek support from nearby sellers in Florida.
“I realized this was not something I could do by myself,” she says. “I don't really have a business background.”
Yet when Melissa went looking for a collective group of sellers in her community, she came up short. “I couldn't find a local meet up of eBay sellers in my area. So I ended up creating my own," says Melissa.
With the success of that initial group, Melissa has continued to support Latino sellers nationwide. Today, she offers direct seller coaching for fellow Hispanics in the Orlando area and has taken her support over state lines, creating the Facebook group eBay Latino. There, Melissa has created an online community for Spanish-speaking eBay sellers to learn from one another, offer encouragement and grow together.
In a world where technology dates itself as quickly as it is purchased, eBay seller Gabe Middleton saw a way to turn e-waste into opportunities within his community. With little more than a tiny office and a dream, Gabe and his partner set to work collecting old, discarded technology, repairing and repurposing the devices, and redistributing them amongst local low-income individuals for free.
Today, with support from their thriving eBay store, Gabe and his partner have grown their nonprofit into Human-I-T, an organization connecting low-income individuals and nonprofits to technology, digital literacy training and low-cost internet.
“By reusing instead of recycling electronics, our team transforms e-waste into opportunities to promote digital inclusion and digital access,” states their website.
Through sales of refurbished devices from Human-I-T, Gabe and his team have helped more than 3,200 low-income individuals nationwide gain access to technology so they may learn, work and connect with others. A 2017 SHINE finalist for Charitable Business, 100% of the nonprofit’s proceeds are used to support their mission of digital inclusion for all.