Andon spent most of his adolescence moving to and from different countries, including Chile, Mexico, India, and multiple states in the US. He says that along the way his family was a part of every socioeconomic class, from “third world rich” to “first world poor”. His father built oyster and shrimp hatcheries all over and taught Andon about the customs of Latin America. In 2008, Andon took a journey from Appalachia to Yucatan to learn about how he can contribute to forest restoration- this is how Andon’s non-profit, New Forest Earth, came to be.
New Forest Earth works with community cooperatives in Mexico and Ecuador to bring handcrafted, sustainable goods to customers in the United States. These goods vary from recycled paper journals, jewelry made from plants in the Amazon rainforest, and USDA organic, Rainforest Alliance certified chocolate. The goal of the business is to fund reforestation and indigenous cultural development projects. The organization has a large support group, including interns from universities and even children as young as 12, all trying to raise awareness amongst their peers.
Andon hopes to expand his business across the United States, and with this loan from Accion USA, he will purchase inventory from co-ops, which will allow him to sell more products and in turn contribute to the mission of reforestation.