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Localwise (more than a social enterprise)

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FEBRUARY 18, 2015

Want a little more Chipotle and a little less Crossroads? Need to find a part-time job? Know a friend who needs a part-time job? You just might be covered.

Localwise is a social enterprise that focuses on two things: part-time jobs and students. Made by recently-graduated UC Berkeley students, for students, put simply, Localwise “connects local businesses with students and connects students with part-time work,” stated co-founder Ben Hamlin.

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Localwise was created by Hamlin and Maya Tobias, both graduates of the Haas Business School MBA program, who met while managing, facilitating and organizing the Global Social Venture Competition. After taking multiple classes together, working on an Innovation Core project, the “genesis was an independent study” that initiated Hamlin and Tobias’ partnership. Soon they found that they were different than their peers, but similar as “we (both) care about local businesses, we are both children of local business owners, we both started local businesses before,” Hamlin explained.


Immediately after graduation last May, Hamlin and Tobias were put to work. From the grassroots level, “we started with the philosophy that local businesses would be stronger if they collaborated,” Tobias stated. Together, they soon realized that for local businesses, “hiring came up over and over again.” The question, “How do I find good people?” became a fundamental “pain point” for local businesses, Tobias continued.


Therefore, Hamlin and Tobias applied to be a part of SkyDeck, a program funded by both the city of Berkeley and UC Berkeley, an incubator for startup businesses for individuals who have a connection with the campus; you need to be a student or alum to apply. After six months, Localwise begins their road to connect two worlds: the student’s calendar and the local business’s priorities and goals.


“We are all about supporting local businesses and getting more people in the community to recognize the importance of shopping at local businesses and being a part of the local community, so we are excited to bring students into the fold,” Tobias concluded.


Working with a local business can sometimes be intimidating. Therefore, Hamlin and Tobias are carefully curating the list so that it is targeted towards students. Working with a local business is as easy as “you are working directly with the owner, so you have the opportunity to learn more about running a business, and it is easier to gain more business skills and hands on experience,” Tobias explained.

Besides thanking their community managers for “all of their incredible work,” Hamlin and Tobias recommend that the next time you look for lunch, be sure to see if there is a Localwise sticker in the window.

After a little while, you might be able to grab a bite at Chez Pannise after all!

Image Sources: LocalwiseJobs courtesy

Contact Daniella Wenger at [email protected].

FEBRUARY 18, 2015