Doing “Good” On A Budget

Arati-Sureddi-300x300Meet Arati Sureddi. She is a social entrepreneur who has worked at start-up non-profits all over the world. In 2013, she founded LOTUS Alliance, a social enterprise addressing human trafficking and forced labor through the responsible tourism industry. LOTUS Nomads, an online travel agency that lists hotels upholding the highest human rights standards and labor practices, is her latest venture.

Last week, I got the chance to sit down with Arati and talk about her initiatives and what it means to ‘do good’ on a budget. I left inspired and ready to make changes in how I spend my money.

How can you afford to devote yourself to your passion at such a young age?

They say that start-ups need to run lean, but much of my experience has been with non-profits in developing countries, which takes lean to a new level. For me, it’s not so much of an adjustment but I am still really disciplined with my finances because I know that funds spent wisely can create a sizable impact for the better.

What does it mean to ‘do good’ on a budget?

College students, like entrepreneurs, are often on a very tight budget. Certainly, you don’t have large amounts of cash to donate. But you might also find yourself passing on socially or environmentally minded goods because they can be more expensive than alternatives, but that’s not always the case! You don’t have to pay a premium to do good. Zara is a great example of this as its somewhere that many college age individuals shop and is competitively priced but Zara scores significantly better on labor rights and practices than comparable brands. Also, a report on coffee – which I’m sure the majority of us live on – was just released; some of the findings will probably surprise you, remembering that organic is not synonymous with fair labor. I really encourage people to look into how their favorite brands rank on a transparent rating system; you have the power to do good simply by being mindful and spending wisely.

How can I find out which companies have good labor practices?

There are a lot of resources out there that tell you which companies are operating responsibly. provides information on forced and child labor practices at companies in a number of industries. EatShopSleep is an app that tells you if a company owes backwages, which tells you if they’re paying their employees. B Lab is a certification that identifies good businesses and is transparent in their process.

LOTUS Nomads, launching later this year will also be a valuable resource. It screens hotels for labor practices and human rights standards only listing those that meet a certain criteria. Discounts will be available for students and proceeds from the site will be donated to non-profits serving adult survivors of human trafficking. Check out their website for more information.

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