Campus Celebrity: Ryan O'Donnell - CEO & Founder of Pennies 4 Progress

Name: Ryan Patrick O'Donnell
Major: Business Administration/ International Studies
Year: Sophomore
Hometown: High Point, NC

What is Pennies 4 Progress?
Pennies 4 Progress (P4P) is a non-profit leading a revolution in innovative finance enabling any business to become a social business. We are doing this because we believe good non-profit organizations should do what they do best; solving the world’s most pressing social problems. A penny is virtually worthless, but together our daily purchases can move mountains. Through P4P, businesses empower consumers to make a seemingly insignificant one-cent donation with each transaction at their store; these pennies support micro-finance institutions (MFIs) abroad, and once the initial loan is repaid, supports local non-profits, such as the network of food banks. Every penny transaction makes an impact at home and abroad.

When was Pennies 4 Progress founded?
My team and I started earlier this year but everything has picked up over the past few months. We officially incorporated as an NPO earlier this month.

How many people are on your team?
Our team is made up of me and two others. Brandon Narybouth, sophomore in Economics/ Business Administration, brings a lot to the table as our Chief Financial Officer. Kevin Miller, senior in Business Administration/ International Studies, and I are both Caldwell Fellows. He worked at a social entrepreneurship institute over the summer and is an awesome guy.

What inspired you and your partner to start P4P?
We believe pennies can make a difference and there is a need to make this world a better place. One day I was fundraising in the Brickyard and thought it would be great if students could give a little bit every time they buy food at the Atrium. The idea was born and I began a mission to figure out a way to bring these two ideas together.

What are some of P4P's biggest accomplishments since being established?
Since winning the 1st UNC System Social Business Conference, we have been working hard. We have finished our website (below) and are busy reaching out to potential partners. We officially registered with the state as Pennies 4 Progress, Inc .

What is one thing you have learned about this whole experience?
Ideas are great but people make them work, from the great team we have to the people who help us along the way. We appreciate everyone who is helping us get closer to making this world a better place.

What are some of the goals you have for P4P for your first year starting up?
Early next year we plan to beta test in one grocery store, we are reaching out to a few major chains in the area. Before we can do that we are solidifying our relationships with key partner organizations like the Food Bank, micro-finance institutions and lending platforms, like Kiva.

Do you have any advice to anyone who would like to start his or her own non-profit organization?
Non-profits are needed, but we need new non-profits to be sustainable and not completely dependent on donor funding. Whenever starting a non-profit, like any business, do what you are good at. Try to find an intersection between what you can do well and a social problem that exists.

Where can our readers learn more about P4P?
Here is our Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/Pennies4Progress
Here is our website: http://www.pennies4progress.org/
Please share our story!

Last words?
We will be launching next year and gaining traction; follow our progress and help us reach our mission of making this world a better place, one penny at a time.