Founded in 2009 to provide economic opportunity in WE Villages communities and a sustainable source of funding for WE Charity, ME to WE has grown into a global force for good.
ME to WE provides two levels of benefits to support the work of WE Charity. Firstly, ME to WE creates employment and economic empowerment for over 2,000 people in WE Villages communities around the world, including via artisanal and Fairtrade products and global service trips. This critical to the WE Villages pillar of Economic Opportunity, and enables WE Charity to achieve economically sustainable development in countries around the world. Secondly, ME to WE’s charter requires that it donates a minimum of 50% of its profits annually to WE Charity. For the past five years, ME to WE has donated over 90% of profits to WE Charity, with the balance of funds reinvested to grow the social enterprise. For example, ME to WE recently launched a new line of fair trade chocolate that creates economic opportunity in WE Villages communities in Ecuador. Since 2009, ME to WE has donated $20 million in cash and cost offsetting in-kind donations to WE Charity.
ME to WE’s primary function is to support the mission and operating costs incurred by its partner, WE Charity. ME to WE operates as legally separate entity with its own governance and finances. The legal structure was established with guidance from top Canadian law firms Torys, and Miller Thompson. It follows all requirements and regulations set by the Canadian Revenue Agency rules. In order to ensure proper governance, financial accountability and overwhelming benefit to WE Charity, ME to WE has been reviewed by relevant government agencies (including the Ontario Public Guardian Trustee) and external experts (auditors, Board of Directors and a former Justice of The Supreme Court of Canada). ME to WE’s socially responsible practices and supply chains have undergone independent reviewed by groups such as B Labs, Mission Measurement and the Fairtrade Foundation. Mission Measurement’s 2018 review stated that ME to WE is: “not only operating within established industry guidelines and practices, but based on our market research and analysis of peer social enterprises, it may well be setting the industry standard globally for best practices in the field of social entrepreneurship.”
ME to WE is a social enterprise that was created in 2005 (from predecessor Leaders Today) to support the award-winning development work of WE Charity.
ME to WE’s financial support enables WE Charity to scale its operational capacity while keeping a low administration rate of approximately 10% to ensure the maximum dollars donated go to social programs.
While ME to WE’s commitment is to donate a minimum 50% of its proceeds to WE Charity, for the past four years, it has donated 90% of its yearly profits and in-kind revenue to WE Charity. The balance is re-invested into the social enterprise to further grow its social mission—developing additional women’s artisanal cooperatives or global-service placement locations.
ME to WE also contributes to a cycle of sustainable local and global change through the substance of its services and products, which are aligned with the values and mission of WE Charity. • More than 140,000 youth are inspired through ME to WE leadership programs. • 20,000 travelers joined us on ME to WE immersive volunteer trips overseas. • To date, more than 1,500 mamas in Kenya and Ecuador work with ME to WE Artisans.
Track Your Impact: ME to WE retail products also offer “Track Your Impact” to show consumers exactly what their purchase provides to WE Charity. Through this unprecedented model of transparency, consumers can see exactly what their dollars provided and where the donation was delivered. For example, the purchase of a ME to WE backpack might fund education for a child in Kenya for one year.
Backed by Jeff Skoll, visionary social entrepreneur: Founder of the Skoll Foundation and the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University, Jeff Skoll provided the mentorship and start-up funds for ME to WE. We were unbelievably lucky to find someone who didn’t care about monetary returns—only rigorous evidence-based social impact and “stock options in a better world.” Skoll and his senior team joined our board of directors for ME to WE, injecting precision and reporting governance in addition to funds.
Independently evaluated: In the United Kingdom, Australia and some U.S. states, charities can form separate for-profit trading companies to generate revenue to meet charitable goals. But in other countries, like ME to WE’s home of Canada, not only was social enterprise a new concept, but there are no regulatory models to follow. Two of Canada’s top law firms, Torys and Miller Thomson, offered pro bono and other legal support to establish a legal structure governance model and reporting requirements. In 2011, ME to WE and WE Charity proactively asked a retired Canadian Supreme Court justice to independently review the organizations and the relationship between them, their founders and governance model. Both organizations were issued an unqualified laudatory report.
Recognized by experts: Jason Saul, CEO of Mission Measurement, who did an independent eight-month review of the organization has said, “What I found most impressive is the ME to WE business model: the organization is designed to be financially self-sufficient by using market-based strategies to advance important social outcomes. I think that ME to WE should serve as an exemplar for how to generate economic value by advancing a social mission.”
Certified as a B Corporation: ME to WE went through a rigorous assessment process by the nonprofit B Lab, which determined we meet marked standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.