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Hal & Me

Posted on Jan 12 by

Above: Hal loved all of our loan recipients, including Gabriel Mandujano of Wash Cycle Laundry, who gifted us these great sweatshirts. My dear friend Hal passed away yesterday. I was so incredibly lucky to work with Hal for a decade. What a man, what a character, what an inspiration. He walked his talk with joy in his heart and a good dose of mischief around the edges. Like all colleagues with desks only a few feet apart, Hal and I talked too much some days. Imagine having Hal to yourself and talking about everything with him from   ending poverty to feminism to B Corporations, Hal’s last favorite issue. Hal loved disagreeing with me, not that we were ever that far apart in our views. He was disappointed when he couldn’t get an animated discussion out of me; I am a Killough after all and he counted on my stubbornness to keep up my end of a good debate. I gave Hal a lot of credit for being more open minded than I. He was willing to change his mind on...


The Seriously Superior Shopping Guide

Posted on Dec 9 by

There are so many shopping guides out there for the holidays. Why is ours superior, seriously? Because these companies don’t just create wonderful products, they create good jobs, they care for the environment and create the positive changes we need in the world. And, finally, they are all “Investees” — the Untours Foundation has backed them with a low-interest loan or an equity investment. For your loved one  ROAR Athena personal safety device For your coffee connoisseur PACHAMAMA COFFEE subscription For your favorite baker SINGING DOG VANILLA For your chocolate lover DIVINE CHOCOLATE For your traveler An UNTOUR! For those who don’t need more stuff  NATIVE ENERGY carbon offsets So, be generous this season and support some wonderful businesses. You’re supporting the Foundation by making these Investees more...


The first-ever Untours Ungala

Posted on Oct 14 by

On October 3rd, Untours — the foundation and business together — hosted the first-ever Ungala, in celebration of 40 years of Untours and 23 years of the foundation. We brought together staff, board members, Untourists and donors, investees and community partners into a board member’s home for a cozy evening of socializing. We’ve always been about blurring the lines between business and philanthropy (a word Hal disliked), but bringing all these folks together was perhaps the first time we had literally mixed it ALL up in person. And what an evening! We had long-time board members such as Alix Rabin and Mary LeFever chatting with our newest investees from ROAR and The GREEN Program. Hal’s first employee, Fran Douglas, had dinner with B Corporation co-founder Jay Coen Gilbert. We enjoyed hearing travel stories from longtime Untourists and donors the MacDonalds as well as the latest developments from Morgan at MyMilkcrate. Listen to Jay Gilbert’s moving words about Hal:   We honored the longtime service of Mary LeFever, who will be stepping down from the board, with a gift basket from Equal Exchange. We like...


Remembering Norma Taussig

Posted on Jul 23 by

Norma Lee Black Taussig, our dear friend and co-founder of the foundation, died yesterday at 92. I think Norma would have said she wasn’t 92 years “young,” but 92 years “old.” She lived through much hardship including the death of her beloved brother when she was young to living with the effects of a serious stroke in the last chapter of her life. She felt and claimed every one of those four score and a dozen years. Whether Norma came hard wired with compassion or whether her challenges in life made her more empathetic, I don’t know. But Norma always thought about the other person, was extremely generous with what she had, and walked the talk by living frugally — always. Norma must have learned at an early age how to take up no emotional space. She could disappear into a room of people. You could almost forget she was there until she piped up with an opinion. Everyone listened when Norma spoke. She didn’t mince words, so you wanted to get each and every one of them. We...


An “Ace” Company

Posted on Jul 22 by

The photograph above is a section of the foundation’s bookshelf, a historic tour in itself. For ten years, our foundation had a British connection through our loan to Belu, a water bottling company that modeled itself after Untours by giving its profits away. Hal couldn’t resist such a flattering business pitch: “We want to be just like you!” Read a neat article about CEO Karen Lynch here. Belu went on to wow us  with its “Water on Tap” campaign inspiring Londoners to drink tap water and to stop buying bottled water. What other water bottling company would do that?! We are delighted to report that Belu has taken off and gives its profits to clean water projects through WaterAid. We are proud to have been a founding investor. Belu is “blinding” — which in UK-speak means excellent, great, or superb. Look for Belu water on your London Untour! “Water is the driving force of all nature.” Leonardo da Vinci...


Ecozoom update

Posted on May 24 by

We had a great conference call with Ecozoom not long ago. Ecozoom produces beautifully designed low-emission and low-fuel cookstoves. They are available for sale as camp cookstoves in the US, but are distributed throughout the world to replace traditional stoves which require a great deal of fuel and also produce dangerous amounts of pollution, especially for those who are doing the cooking — women. They’ve had a very successful partnership with DelAgua Health in Rwanda, distributing approximately 700,000 clean cookstoves to people in need. This program will be wrapping up soon. Ecozoom is growing their own direct distribution markets in urban centers of Kenya, and has also recently launched a new, updated clean...