Upstart Phone Companies Stand Up for Refugees, the Homeless, and the Planet

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in Entrepreneurship, Tech

phone1JJMost consumers pick their phone company based on which one offers the best reception and the coolest gadget for the lowest cost. But if you want a phone company that supports a 100% progressive mission and offers political transparency, then meet CredoMobile and Sparrowmobile.

Credo is an offshoot of Working Assets, which paved the path for businesses blending social mission with profit in 1985. Working Assets describes itself as “a social change organization that offers products, “from credit cards to home and mobile phone service. Their social and environmental mission comes before profits. It’s a people before profit model—yet they have been profitable enough to make a real difference. Since 1985 Working Assets has donated $83 million toward progressive causes.

Their website offers a glimpse into the wide range of causes they support. “Over the course of our history, CREDO has donated … to Democracy Now!, Brennan Center for Justice, Doctors Without Borders, ACLU, EFF, Planned Parenthood, 350.org and hundreds of other nonprofit groups . . . . Our activists have helped win historic victories for peace with Iran, Net Neutrality, Arctic offshore drilling and coal leasing on federal lands, raising the minimum wage, and blocking Wall Street cronies from political appointments.”

In 2011, Working Assets/Credo launched a super PAC to defeat Tea Party candidates.

Beginning last December, when Trump’s hateful rhetoric against immigrants and refugees increased, Credo doubled its monthly donations to groups fighting for immigrant and refugees rights, issuing this statement:

Credo believes it is incumbent on all of us to stand up and defend those threatened by Trump. That is why we decided to select groups standing up against Trump’s hate.”

Customers who sign up become linked into Credo’s Action network. Customers can opt in to vote on where Credo’s dollars are spent, to receive information about progressive causes, or to sign a petition on a pressing political issue. This is one phone bill you could feel good about paying.

Then there’s SparrowMobile, the newest company to break into the progressive phone market. Sparrow too, has been amping up its support for refugees as pushback against the recent executive orders on immigration.

Sparrow was one of the first companies to take on Obama’s call to corporations to assist in the international refugee crisis. Their mobile phones have offered lifelines to the homeless and to refugees, offering the kind of practical connections that so much of us take for granted—a connection to an estranged family, a mobile map to the nearest shelter, connections to mental health services, housing leads, and jobs.

Sparrow asks the obvious but often overlooked question: who of us could navigate a shelter system, a job application, a home application, school enrollments or a doctor’s appointment without a mobile device?

Every time a customer signs up for Sparrow, the organization donates either one mobile phone or service to a person in need—-from the homeless to foster youths to refugees to black-girls-who-code.

Sparrow has even transformed a formerly bookless classroom at the Oltikamp School in Kenya. Partnering with Worldreader.org, they donated mobile Kindles pre-loaded with books—an instant library!

The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice service,quality or cost in order to join. Both Both Credo and Sparrow offer affordable packages that actually may save you money on your current bill, while doing good. Sparrow requires no long-term contract, and they allow you to bring over your current device or upgrade to an iPhone or Android smart phone. Credo offers a two-year plan with “free” or almost “free” discounts on Android smart phones, or the latest iPhone models.

At last year’s Causecast Conference, I asked Sparrow CEO Matt Bauer if he was daunted by the current political climate. Bauer said: “Our attitude is to lower our heads and go more aggressively. Let’s just start dropping love bombs.” While Trump and his cronies build walls, Sparrow offers wings.

I’m making the change today.  What are you going to do?

Photo: Class at Oltikampu School, Kenya receives Kindles. © Sparrow.

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