At only 28, entrepreneur Marco Barbosa is definitely one to watch. He has ambitious and clear goals for the future, not only of his fast growing company eSolidar but for the whole world. In fact, he’s hoping to change the way business and charity have been viewed as two different aspects of the world’s economy. No wonder he’s on Forbes’ 2016 list of “30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs”.



“It’s interesting to see that people are often making money without helping other people at the same time - and that it’s considered normal. But if we can make it easier for people to make money and help other people at the same time, I think that’s the key to changing the world for the better. We need to combine profit and non-profit markets and have these two aspects empower each other,” Portuguese CEO Marco explains.




Marco now lives in London and runs his eSolidar from offices in King’s Cross.




Marco Barbosa was born and raised in the small town of Salreu in the Aveiro district in Portugal. At university he studied computer science and founded his first company at age 21. Already thinking of the future for our planet, his innovative eco-company developed a system to convert waste cooking oil into bio-diesel. His idea won 4th place at Microsoft’s Imagine Cup in Paris 2008.




A few years later, with a creative mind and driven by his ethics, Marco co-founded eSolidar; a fast growing online platform where commerce and charity work together. “Capitalism is often seen as a negative thing for society; I believe that the key to success is to find a way where both sides, capitalism and charity, can win.” explains Marco.




Marco had a clear vision for the future and wanted to integrate that into his work. He spent time volunteering for charities in order to understand fundraising and realised that there could be, and should be, a much easier way for a charity to reach people, and for people to support its cause.




“Ever since I was a kid I have thought about how we can make the world a better place; I wanted to somehow leave the world in a better state than I found it in and have a meaningful life. So I started wondering how I can play my part in this world? I noticed that both local and global charities have structural problems that make it challenging for them to reach people. It should also be easier to support a charity and for both the charity and the supporter to be empowered. It also needs to be easier to connect consumers and corporates with charities and help them interact.”




And that’s what inspired eSolidar; a global giving marketplace that allows people to shop, sell and donate to their favourite charitable causes. At the same time, the platform enables charities to diversify their fundraising base and reach new audiences through online charity shops, donations and special charity auctions.




eSolidar allows business and charities work together to make and raise money. Not through philanthropy – but by doing business.




"eSolidar works to empower and develop the social economy. We believe that bringing together the best of for-profit and nonprofit allows us to create a social impact ecosystem that bridges these two ‘worlds’.




“By engaging with technology and social innovation, we aim to demonstrate that it is possible to disrupt these worlds and drive forward significant change within both sectors. Over the past two years we have been fortunate enough to work with people who believed in our vision and who have passionately supported us, many of whom have expressed interest in investing in us.” explains Barbosa.




eSolidar was launched in Portugal in 2012 raising over €100K through BusyAngels. In 2014 eSolidar was named "One of the most outstanding digital initiatives for social good” and “Best Business Potential”. And in 2015 the company sourced €500K from Portugal Ventures.




In only two years, the company has grown fast but more importantly, it has raised over £100,000 for over 500 charities and attracted more than 40,000 users. “Obviously, we started small but even so, between 2014 and 2015, eSolidar grew by 700%,” Marco says and laughs. “But the fact is that in the last six months, we grew by 120% and just this last month, May 2016, our revenue has grown by 20%.”




With headquarters in King’s Cross, eSolidar now has nine employees and Marco emphasises how important the personnel is, “I was very lucky to find a good main partner and investors who share my vision. We’ve put together a great team. This is the biggest challenge in business; is to create a team that understands the vision of the company and believes in it. When you have a motivated team with knowledge and skills, you will succeed. It might take months, even years, to find the right people, those who share your vision but the results are worth it. I now have a team that’s ambitious and will do everything to help the company succeed.”




Having established two companies already and still in his twenties, Marco must have made some mistakes and learnt a thing or two about business. “Of course, but right from the start I’ve tried to listen to others and learn from their mistakes. The more research I do, the more I learn. I look for different opinions to get better at what I’m doing so I’m not completely alone in this. But you shouldn’t be afraid to fail either, that’s how you learn. Usually, young people are too afraid of making mistakes and try to avoid them rather than test something out. But I know that failure is an opportunity to improve yourself and get better at what you’re doing and improve and grow your business. You learn from it and the more you learn, the more chance you have of success.”




eSolidar is now launching a crowd-funding campaign in order to expand its UK operations and help even more charities. To do so it aims to raise £200k through crowd funding site SEEDRS. They are already over 50% of the way towards their target and Marco is confident they will reach the £200k needed.




"eSolidar is all about engaging with the community and so crowdfunding seemed like the obvious route; to let the community own a part of eSolidar," explains Barbosa.




The crowdfunding campaign runs until the end of August. See https://www.seedrs.com/esolidar



For more information about eSolidar see:

https://www.esolidar.com/read more