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Underwood

Brittany Merrill Underwood

Founder & CEO, Akola Project

Brittany Merrill Underwood has made an extraordinary impact through her dedication over the past 12 years to transform the lives of impoverished women and families through the Akola Project. Akola operates a social business designed to empower women in disadvantage communities through training, employment and holistic care. Akola’s products are sold throughout the country and their elevated jewelry line is the first full-impact-product to be sold in the luxury space through their national launch in Neiman Marcus. As a non-profit, Akola reinvests 100% of their profits to support employment, training, social programs and well as the construction of training centers and water wells in impoverished communities throughout the globe. Akola has a social impact throughout its entire supply chain and offers women opportunity through the creation of their raw materials, assembly of their product and through their distribution center that acts as a second chance jobs program. Akola has created a new high impact model for social business that is paving the way for high impact millennial run businesses that seek to have an impact on the world.

Brittany was named the ‘Best Person in the World” by Yahoo in 2014 and was honored by clothing manufacturer Levi as one of 50 women around the globe who have changed the political, cultural, and spiritual shape of the future. She was awarded the Emerging Leader Award from SMU in 2013, the Young Leader Award from the Dallas Women’s Foundation in 2014, and is will be awarded the Business & Interfaith Peace Award given by the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation in Rio this month. Brittany has been featured on the likes of the Katie Couric Show, CNN’s Young People who Rock, Fox Business and Modern Luxury. In 2014, she was asked to join the mentoring class for the Laura Bush Women’s Initiative and joined the faculty of Southern Methodist University as an adjunct professor in 2015 where she teaches a new course on Social Innovation. Brittany continues to devote her life to creating a brand that empowers women through economic and holistic development as CEO of the Akola Project.