My name is Annabel Ruffell and I am the founder of Journey for Earth, a global awareness company committed to inspiring change for humanity, the environment and animals, one choice at a time.
I met Chris in Venice, CA recently and I loved the work that he was doing in Africa to support communities there. I knew I had to interview him!
Chris Akin is a diehard social entrepreneur who lives to blend commerce and social responsibility. Born and raised in New York City, Chris sought out a warmer island refuge after he finished college. While he calls Hawaii his permanent home, you can often find him doing business out of NYC and globetrotting (often with twin brother, Doug). Previously, Chris was the COO of a media company, AdWalls. An avid surfer, Chris also founded Locean Labs, a skincare line designed for ocean athletes. Over the last decade, Chris served as the acting president for various non-profit organizations, (such as The Boys and Girls Club Alliance Board, and Envision Hawaii). His desire to blend philanthropic work with entrepreneurism and travel fueled him to co create The Base Project.
1) What Journey are You on?
Africa. I am on the journey to better explore, understand, and invest in Africa. The staring point for this journey is my work running The Base Project, which operates in the countries of Namibia and Ghana. But, that is only the starting point. Journeying through an entire continent and attempting to understand so many varied cultures is a complex order. Even scratching the surface of this scale journey will be a lifetime achievement. Looking forward on the journey, I see The Base Project engaging in Fair Trade work in many more countries across the continent; myself traveling and connecting with the diverse groups of people from Namibia to Congo to Ethiopia; and finally ending the journey with a more holistic understanding of the continent.
2) What has been one of your greatest challenges over the years, either with the work that you do or in another area of your life, and how did you overcome it?
Pushing myself beyond my comfort zone. The greatest challenges are often internal ones; for example the challenge to attain self enlightenment. For years I worked on pushing myself beyond what I am comfortable with and I imagine this challenge will last a lifetime. My personal challenges associated with pushing myself run a wide spectrum from public speaking, attaining higher levels of success, to putting aside distractions and being more present in daily social interactions. How do I overcome these challenges? I have the fortunate, or very unfortunate case of a voice inside me that consistently says: “You have all the ability and opportunity to do X, now you just have to push yourself to achieve it. If you push yourself and fail, that is fine. But right now you haven’t begun pushing, so get uncomfortable and get started.”
3) What is your greatest hope for our planet at this time?
My greatest hope for the planet is poverty alleviation. The idea that a significant portion of the population lacks adequate food, water, and housing is a tragedy of the modern era. I know the solution is easily within the grasp of humanity though it will likely require a shift in priorities for many individuals and societies. The best chances for that shift and alleviating poverty will not come from re-distributing wealth, which is a zero sum game of taking away one persons luxury car to pay for a different families annual food consumption. Rather I advocate for the idea applying similar ideas & resources put into creating a 150MPH luxury car into bringing reliable electricity to a village in Sudan. For example, The Base Project is a social enterprise which takes the best practices of the for-profit fashion industry and applies them to addressing social needs, in many cases poverty alleviation in developing countries.
What Journey are YOU on?