SHOPPING TO REBUILD COMMUNITIES
BY Andrew Weaver, Founder of SHOPINV
SHOPINV is a startup that was formed from the seed of a prayer.
Let me start from the beginning. I grew up in a poor household, watching my single mother work multiple jobs to raise me and my two older siblings. I used to see her get up early in the morning to head to her first job, come home to eat, and get dressed for her second job. I inherited her intense work ethic, and my desire for service came from a drive to help ease her load. At the age of five I started to help around the house, pitching in with cooking, cleaning, ironing, etc. Then, I became a young entrepreneur; I would go to a local record store that sold “penny candy” on Sunday and sold this candy at school for a profit. Over time I started expanding my wares to include pencils, erasers and so on. This helped my mother stretch her money because I would buy certain things for myself. As soon as I turned twelve years old, I was legally capable of obtaining a job, so I cracked open the Sunday Indianapolis Star newspaper comics and applied as a paperboy from an ad I found there. From that moment on, I was working to escape poverty, then working to avoid slipping back into it.
As a young adult, I landed in the entertainment industry, where I spent nearly 20 years of my life. I always knew I was in it for the money. It provided much for my family, but my spirit was missing something. I felt that I was only looking out for myself. Fast forward 30 years, and I found myself divorced, broke, and unhappy with my direction in life. In the midst of the horrific storm, all of my unease about money and purpose came rushing to the surface, and I had to confront it before I could figure out my next move.
I realized I was tired of the process wherein someone must lose in order for someone else to win. Helping others has always made me the happiest, but I had spent the last few decades being blinded by greed. This time around, I knew I still wanted to hustle hard and get back on top, but I needed to do it for a stronger purpose than myself. I truly believe everyone is uniquely gifted, and I wanted to use my gifts to lift others up. It’s my belief that if we choose not to focus on competition, we can win on our own terms.
How could I put these realizations into practice, and move forward with conviction? Was I ready to find out who I was as a single father? How could I provide for myself by providing for others? Questions like these filled my mind, and after a lot of soul-searching, prayer, and twenty straight hours on my laptop, I found that this inspiration had poured out of me in an app called SHOPINV…which stands for SHOP & INVEST. SHOPINV is a tech advertising company that shares its profits with the shoppers. We provide businesses with loyal customers and pay those customers to be loyal to SHOPINV. It’s money they can use as cash, store credit or the holy grail…investing. By offering shoppers the opportunity to have their returns deposited directly into investment portfolios, SHOPINV can partner with businesses to truly end poverty.
For all the attention we place on the tragedy of poverty, I have yet to see a forum that empowers poor people to generate their own solutions. I don’t blame leaders for not coming up with effective solutions, but I do blame them for not actively seeking the opinions of the people most affected by economic inequality. An often forgotten fact is that Martin Luther King, Jr. was shifting his focus from racial injustice to economic injustice towards the end of his life, and that is what his last speech before his assassination was referencing. I strongly feel SHOPINV is an excellent starting point to provide far-reaching solutions to the problems that he sought to address over half a century ago. These solutions may be revolutionary, but they’re also long overdue. The End of Poverty is no longer a political talking point.
Creating solutions is the core fiber of my being, and I have a gift for finding the good in every situation. It’s hard for people to understand sometimes, but I want their lives to be just as good or better than mine. They think there has to be a gimmick and there is none. This has challenged me to revise my approach, to help others see what has become as plain as day to me: SHOPINV is exactly what Martin Luther King was talking about when he spoke of seeing the other side of the mountain. It’s the catalyst to rebuilding poor communities and educating the financially disadvantaged. Being a full-time entrepreneur and presenting and implementing something as ambitious as SHOPINV has been more of a challenge than I could ever have expected, but I’m up for the challenge.
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