An Online Marketplace Connecting Makers With Consumers

Ann Wang, Enrou
Presented byPresented by Kia
Mar 7, 2016· 2 MIN READ
Tasbeeh Herwees is a journalist and writer from Los Angeles. She has written for Good Magazine, The Majalla, TruthDig, L.A. Currents, and others.

This profile is part of TakePart’s “Re-Visionaries” series, in which we highlight people who are shaking things up—and making a difference—in their field and community.

Ann Wang fills her online marketplace, Enrou, with pretty things—gorgeous woven Guatemalan blankets, beautifully packaged Indian soaps, vibrantly patterned pillows. Click on the items, and you’ll be introduced to the people who made it—craftspeople from all over the world who wouldn’t otherwise have access to a global consumer base. Each item is also attached to a cause, such as global health or youth development, and each purchase directly funds that cause. Wang talked to TakePart about her project.

TakePart: Tell us about Enrou and your model for social good.

Ann Wang: Enrou is a marketplace of really unique products from around the world that have a lot of story to them. Our goal is to create a revolutionary shopping experience that can transport you into this virtual experience to meet the maker of the product. You get to see how, when you purchase an item, you’re directly making an impact on their life. You’re able to see how it affects not just them but their community through causes like women’s empowerment or micro-finance or even environmental issues.

TakePart: How did you conceive of Enrou?

Wang: I was seeing that traditional aid and traditional one-for-one models weren’t working as much as they were promising. But what was working was when we saw individuals who were given an opportunity to either create a product or just be able to build a career. What I was realizing also was that the last part of the formula was broken, which was getting this to customers. So that’s how Enrou started. We want to be that meeting place for brands that are doing this, organizations that are really focused on this type of mission, to connect its mass-market consumer base, who was looking for both a deeper experience and a really amazing product.

TakePart: How does Enrou distinguish itself from other companies that also have philanthropic missions?

Wang: This differs from most cause-driven marketplaces because our products are actually created by the people that the programs help and the profits go back to. You’re empowering the individual, and you’re putting resources into the community to make sure that it’s a long-lasting relationship of change. Every single product has a human, living, breathing story behind it. That kind of leads us to our second point, which is that we’ve only touched the surface of the content side of what Enrou is.

TakePart: How would you like to see Enrou grow, and how will you use $5,000 to direct that growth?

Wang: We’ve been so bootstrapped as a company, and what we’ve been able to see is that engagement is so high and so loyal. There’s a lot of ability for us to move into the mass market and be more accessible to the everyday shopper. But to really do that, we need to know what about Enrou triggers somebody to go all the way through the purchase funnel. We’ve been far along this journey, and with the $5,000, there’s absolutely a way for us to take that to a next level.

TakePart: What does being a Re-Visionary mean to you?

Wang: I think being a Re-Visionary is about taking a vision, taking something that could be a dream for so many people, and then turning it on its head and going, this is totally possible. I feel like Enrou is all about that. I think we’re taking something that’s so normal, that’s so everyday and seen as even being superficial, like shopping, and flipping it on its head and saying, ‘This could actually be the most tangibly impactful action that our generation could do to create mass change globally.’