Company proves profits, humanity can go hand-in-hand

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

With self-proclaimed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders winning votes, including Nebraska's Democratic caucus, Americans are taking a new look at the basic tenets of our society.

Sanders has struck a nerve, thanks to outrage over Wall Street abuses and bank bailouts, and the perception that a disproportionate amount of wealth finds its way to the top 1 percent at the expense of a shrinking middle class.

Such abuses have made Sanders' message inviting to marginalized young voters, suspicious of successful businesses and their motives.

We depend on successful businesses for employment, but beyond that, can a business do good by doing well?


Consider Pacha Soap Co. of Hastings, Neb.

The company has an unusual business model; creating jobs through sustainable businesses in third-world countries while promoting better hygiene and sanitation.

Owned by McCook native Abi (Burrows) Vrbas and her husband, Atwood, Kan., native Andrew Vrbas, the company has sold more than 400,000 bars of soap and distributed a matching amount to developing nations through the company's Raise the Bar campaign.

It takes money to produce that much soap -- of various scents, colors and names like "Dirty Hippie," "Pocket Full of Cozy" or "Scarfunkle" -- and the Hastings Economic Development Corp. stepped in a few years ago to provide a zero percent, deferred-payment loan to help with expansion.

While Pacha wasn't obligated to start repayments until 2017, and had until 2021 to complete them, the company repaid the $30,000 loan Monday, five years early.

Andrew told the Hastings Tribune the $30,000 represents about half the indebtedness Pacha has taken on to expand the business, which has grown to 18 employees.

"This company started with a dream to help people, but also be a successful business and that those two things are not mutually exclusive," he said "They contribute and help each other, this idea that capitalism can be a force for good is what this company was based on."

Pacha describes itself as "a bunch of Dirty Hippies with a Clean Purpose," to "implement sustainable solutions to the poverty cycle, to promote health and well-being around the world, and to provide quality products for our customers."

Through its buy-one, give-one campaign, Pacha Soap customers can help provide clean water for a community, soap for school children and jobs for men and women around the world.

Pacha Soaps are available at the New Life Christian Bookstore, 212 Norris Ave. in McCook and many other retailers.

Check out the Hastings Tribune story here.

Check out the Pacha Soap site here.

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