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Empowerment through Sustainable Action

Stephan Jacob, the founder of Cotopaxi, visited Weber State University students on Oct. 8th. Jacob visited as a part of the Weber Entrepreneur Lecture Series.

Cotopaxi was developed in 2014 after Jacob felt inspired by his time working for a non-profit in Indonesia in 2003. The Indonesia non-profit helped over 700 children escape from prostitution and human trafficking, and it provided a gateway for them to get back into their schools and communities.

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Stephan Jacob, cofounder of Cotopaxi (Israel Campa / The Signpost)

It was an eye-opening experience for Jacob and allowed him to appreciate just how lucky he was.

“It’s a widely known fact that talent and ambition are distributed evenly across the planet,” Jacob said, “but opportunity is not.”

Through the founding of Cotopaxi, Jacob wants to create opportunities for all to express this talent and ambition.

Cotopaxi has consistently had the innate desire to give back, and Jacob has come to understand that it’s important to find ways to support others in a sustainable way.

“Various initiatives include putting 1% of overall profits into the Cotopaxi Foundation, which we give out in grants to various organizations across the world, mainly in the fields of education, livelihood and healthcare. The reason we focused on these areas is because there is ample research that if you can improve on these dimensions, it lifts a community from a downward trajectory towards development,” Jacob said.

In Utah, Cotopaxi works with the International Rescue Community. There are over 60,000 refugees in Utah from all over the world. Through this partnership, Cotopaxi has been able to form a connection with each of their customers.

Cotopaxi provides jobs to refugees at IRC, who create a handwritten note in their native language for every package being sent out.

Another initiative Cotopaxi provides to the community is their annual Questival. Cotopaxi’s Questival is an adventure scavenger hunt. It allows participants to explore their city with 2-6 friends. There are hundreds of various challenges throughout the course of the 24 hour long festival.

Cotopaxi has also found an opportunity to maintain their sustainable approach through their “Del Dia” line of products. This line uses excess material that they source from factories and warehouses all over Asia. Cotopaxi recycles these materials that otherwise would have been sent to a landfill. At Cotopaxi’s factory in the Philippines, they empower their employees by allowing them to have creative control over each backpack, designing each bag as a unique combination of colors.

Cotopaxi has inspired many entrepreneurs with its innovative approaches to making a sustainable difference.

“For us, social impact is embedded in our entire value chain. It starts with how we source our products, how we communicate with our customers and bring our customers into the story of Cotopaxi,” Jacob said. “And that was a desire of ours from the get-go. Trying to figure out how to be good individuals and citizens. But most importantly, we wanted to take that one step further to inspire individuals to join us in that, to Do Good.”

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