Women in B2B: Ilana Ben-Ari and 21 Toys

ilana ben-ari
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Through their Radical Generosity program, the SheEO community chose 5 world-changing businesses led by Canadian women. We are telling the stories of those companies through our B2BNN storyline features.

Next in the series is Twenty One Toys founded by Ilana Ben-Ari.

Toys for Social Change

Twenty One Toys is a revolution in learning. They asked where the creativity, play, teamwork and empathy were, not just in our classrooms, but in boardrooms and in the broader public sphere. And, they asked, how do we teach these critical skills?

Their goal became a company that uses toys for social change.

Sometimes we find a problem and become obsessed with finding a solution. In her fourth year at university Ilana Ben-Ari was assigned a project to “create a navigational tool for the blind.” Ilana created the Empathy Toy, a 3-dimensional collaborative puzzle coupled with blindfolds, which later won Best in Show at the ACIDO (Association of Chartered Industrial Designers of Ontario) Awards.

Ilana went on to give a TEDx Talk, “close your eyes and think about the colour yellow. In one word describe the colour yellow to the person sitting next to you. Now think about how you would describe the colour yellow to someone who can’t see.”

The first order for 50 toys were made of wood at Studio Junction, and assembled by hand in Ilana’s living room. Now the Empathy Toy is used in 1,000 schools, in 100 offices and in 43 countries!

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