Today our expert guest is Sterling McDavid. Inspired by her time volunteering with UNICEF in 2013, Sterling left a career as a financial analyst at Goldman Sachs to become an entrepreneur and focus on social good and design. Sterling is now CEO & Founder of The Starling Project, a charitable home candle line that helps provide solar energy to impoverished communities around the world.
Sterling first volunteered for a two-week trip to Vietnam. As soon as she got back, she put in her two weeks’ notice. “I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, but I knew that I had to take the leap now.”
While volunteering, she saw solar technology being used in ways that she did not know was possible, like a solar panel powering the distribution of clean water. She was fascinated by this, so she pursued a job with the architecture firm Projectiles in Paris, France, where she was then exposed to the world of fragrance.
These two experiences catalyzed a new idea: light for light. What if every one of these boutique, relatively expensive candles helped provide clean energy for someone in need?
The first initiative that The Starling Project funded with UNICEF was for a small community in Chad. They had to trek three to five miles in one direction to get water, and the water wasn’t even necessarily clean (which led to preventable diseases in children, like cholera, and stole a lot of valuable time).
They installed solar panels to power pipes that pump clean water directly to the center of the community, and it’s been a game changer for the people who live there: no one is spending the bulk of their day retrieving water, fewer children are sick, students can spend more time in school, and parents can spend more time working.
In creating The Starling Project, Sterling wanted to demonstrate the impact that just one person can make. It may feel intimidating, but a single person can move the needle.
In less than two years, The Starling Project has donated more than $150,000 to UNICEF and impacted the lives of over 5,000 people, and they’re currently in the middle of another project in Rwandan hospitals that will affect tens of thousands of people.
And today, you can head over to starlingproject.org/shop and purchase a candle that will, guaranteed, improve at least one other person’s life.
The Biggest Helping: Today’s Most Important Takeaway
Sterling always goes back to the same Ghandi quote: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
“I believe that it’s possible. If you envision the change, go for it,” she says. “You can be the person to make a difference and make a change in this world. At the end of the day, when you leave this world, it’s important to be able to know that I helped change people’s lives, and that it’s actually possible to do.
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