Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project
We, Carol Chyau and Marie So, met when we were classmates at the Harvard Kennedy School’s MPA/ID program. Carol, from Taiwan, and Marie, from Hong Kong, saw in each other the passion and perseverance to promote the “social enterprise” concept in the Greater China region. After almost a year of researching and brainstorming, we decided that the best way to help catalyze the growth of social enterprise in China was to start one ourselves.
In January 2006, we visited Yunnan, where we saw a need for poverty alleviation. However, there we also saw abundant resources – yaks! The seeds of Shokay were planted.
Together with a few friends, we entered the Harvard Business Plan Competition, Social Enterprise Track, and placed first. With the prize money, our team trekked all over China following the footprints of yaks. In the beginning, we knew very little about yak fiber or of the textiles industry. We searched everywhere for experts to help, from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, yak experts all over China, to the Esquel Group, one of the largest cotton manufacturers in the world.
By November 2006, Shokay was formally founded.