Social Entrepreneurship is expanding and evolving in all sectors of our society. Over the past year I have been introduced to new brands and social entrepreneurs, here is a list of the 18 Social Entrepreneurs To Watch For In 2015, that I think will be having a huge impact. I believe we are starting to see a major shift between the traditional business models of the 20th century and this new SE business model that has manifested itself in the 21st century . This list is full of Individuals who are taking this new business model and changing our world.
Ethnotek creates high quality laptop and travel bags that feature ethically sourced handmade textiles. Your purchase helps us sustain employment and demand for the art of hand printing, weaving and embroidery in our partnering artisan villages in Ghana, Guatemala, India, Indonesia and Vietnam. Ethnotek is so much more than just a bag! It’s a celebration of culture, it’s a community, it’s a global movement.
Stand4 is a social good crowd-funding platform that doesn’t require the backer’s wallet. Instead, you can help fund your favorite non-profit projects by simply standing for it. Once a project reaches a particular amount of stands, a corporate sponsor funds the project. Our first project is the clean water project – every stand will give 1 child clean water for a year. After you stand for it you’ll be able to follow the project all the way through its development (from the filters being made to the children drinking the water). Stand4 allows you to take stands(donate) on things you care about, from animals to hunger, with a simple stand(click) Stand4 makes a small donation to the non-profit you have chosen. It also instantly tells you what your click(stand) has provided.
Carmin and Christian Black are the sibling founders of HALF UNITED, and the people behind the concept of using a recycled bullet casing to represent your fight against hunger. Having started their business with only $200 these two turned a fledgling idea into a growing movement of men and women UNITING together to stop hunger in its tracks. HALF UNITED has given over 115 thousands meals to children since 2010. HALF UNITED proves that it is far better to give than to receive, donating HALF of the profits from every product sold directly towards fighting the global hunger epidemic!
Chad Mulder – ruly
ruly, a digital photo concierge service with a mission to create tech jobs for women in poverty. Founder, Chad Mulder, was inspired to create ruly after traveling in East Africa with his wife and young boys as volunteers for a fair trade company. He was captivated by the way entrepreneurs were designing startups to address big social issues, and the positive impact they had on local families. “We want to see the end of extreme global poverty. It has ravaged too much of the world for too long, and it has been especially brutal for women,” says Mulder. “Instead of aid or charity, we’ve set out to create a sustainable business that generates transformative jobs. Not just any kind of job, but tech jobs. We believe this type of job creation can change the economic future of women, families and communities.”
COURAJ (pronounced “courage”) is an Austin, TX based buy 1, give 1 lifestyle clothing brand and tool, with one mission: Help the people of the world show more courage. COURAJ spelled with a J, represents a journey of courage. When you buy, COURAJ gives away a story of courage. They aim to be a combination of a TOMS Shoes, LiveStrong, Hurley, Nike, and Red Bull, while spreading the virtue of courage.
Donnel Baird works to create jobs and reduce energy costs for underserved communities. Through his organization BlocPower, Donnel helps churches and community organizations to use their collective power to bargain for discounts on energy-efficient products ranging from insulation to solar panels, which are then installed for lower electricity bills. A nonprofit arm of BlocPower trains community members to do the construction work for living wages. For Donnel, working with underserved communities in the Bronx and Washington, D.C. offers him an opportunity to bring a sense of community empowerment to communities where such resources are much needed.
Dawn Taylor and Christina Eldridge – Red Dirt
Each Red Dirt good sold funds one year of clean water access for someone in need. We believe water access is the single biggest game changer in an impoverished person’s life, setting off a domino effect of improvements. All of our goods are made in partnership with artists. Our tees, water bottles, and phone cases feature artwork from around the world. Our leather goods are made from artisans we work with in Kenya, from design to production. Our fabric goods are made by entrepreneurial women in Guatemala.
Suraj Gudka – Sokotext
Sokotext is one of my favorite social enterprises out there at the moment. They use SMS technology to bring healthy foods to slums in Nairobi and our looking to expand to Latin America sometime next year. Sokotext is creating jobs, teaching skills, and delivering healthy foods to individuals in some of the poorest areas of the world
Life Equals started with a single product called Focus & Energy, a product our founder, Kyle FitzGerald needed himself. Kyle, like many others has long struggled to drink anything with caffeine. His quest for alternative sources of caffeine without the typical side effects was the inspiration for our vitamin and supplement business – Life Equals. Kyle, like many other millennials has an deep desire to give back. Kyle is a passionate traveler and has experienced many different people and cultures. Realizing how fortunate we are to live in America, Kyle decided to stitch the one-for-one model into Life Equals. So the idea was born that Life Equals would offer the highest quality, most bioavailable vitamins that not only make your life better, but could would have a deep and long lasting impact on children in need throughout the world.
Seed Spot is an amazing organization based in Phoenix, AZ. Their core mission is to help social entrepreneurs bring their ideas to life. They provide assistance in everything from networking, product development, and raising capital for a product or idea. Check them out and spread the word about Seed Spot and the work they are doing with social entrepreneurs.
Before leading Switchboard, Eric was the Executive Vice President, COO & Co-Founder of EconoMEDics, a medical device start-up that designed a rugged, low-cost, power-generating pulse oximeter for the developing world. With a degree in Bioengineering from UC San Diego and a term as an engineering Project Manager at the medical device company DJO, Eric is now happy to label himself as a social entrepreneur. Eric was named one of the Top 11 Innovators in mHealth in 2011 and Rainer Arnhold Fellow in 2012.
Krochet Kids intl. has continued to grow and evolve in ways we never imagined since we earned our non-profit status in January 2008. Today, over 150 people in Uganda and Peru are working, receiving education, and being mentored toward a brighter future in creating gifts that give back. The products created abroad have been well received here at home and the collaboration of our staff and beneficiaries around the globe has created a sustainable cycle of employment and empowerment.
Sword & Plough empowers veteran employment by working with companies and non-profit organizations that employ veterans as sewers and manufacturers, and we ask our partners to scale with us by hiring veterans to meet the growing demand for S&P products. If the fabric doesn’t have a cool story, we won’t use it. We recycle thousands of pounds of military surplus that would otherwise be burned or buried. Because our bags are made from repurposed military gear, they are also water, fire and UV resistant! Our goal is to emotionally and physically touch civilians in their everyday lives. We aim to remind them, in a beautiful way, of the challenges our country and veterans face, and the power that every person has to help.
TechChange is a social enterprise based in Washington DC that specializes in building online certificate courses for individuals and organizations who want to make a positive difference in the world. Over 90% of the world is now covered by a cellular network and 30% of the world has access to the internet. The growth in global connectivity to has been tremendous, especially in the last few years.
What’s perhaps even more impressive is that a whole range of technological tools, services, applications, platforms, and devices have been developed to benefit humanity: from transforming conflicts, to fighting diseases, to distributing food, to mapping natural disasters and so much more. However, individuals working all over the world in fields like social justice, international development, and disaster response have tremendous difficulty keeping pace with these advancements in technology.
With Re-purposed products, Indosole offers the most organic, toxic free and environmentally sustainable production process. There is no melting down, off gassing, or reforming of any materialjust strong hands and minds. To enhance every aspect of your life, Indosole uses only locally sourced and animal free materials during its transformation of waste into fashionable and functional items. It is our dream to provide you with footwear that not only eliminates waste, but also, can give it a new life.
Cotopaxi sells amazing outdoor gear and give back to humanity. They want to disrupt the outdoor industry and inspire companies to do more for the world. Because they sell directly to you online, they offer higher-quality products without the retail markup. Each piece of Cotopaxi gear is tied to a humanitarian cause in one of the poorest regions of the world. We tell you where your money goes in a tangible way. For example, buy a Cusco pack and help educate a child in Peru for one week at Qosko Maqi. When you buy a Cotopaxi +India water bottle, you give clean water to a person in India for six months through our partner, charity: water.
Nisolo is a Nashville-based lifestyle brand focused on social impact. Nisolo ethically sources products in a manner that positively impacts consumers and producers. For producers, Nisolo offers skills training and safe working conditions, facilitates international market access, and ensures beyond fair trade wages. For consumers, Nisolo’s handmade, classic essentials offer superior design, effortless style, and the ability for consumers to improve livelihoods through their purchases.
Panda is on a journey to change the environmental and social impact of sunglasses. They produce high-end sunglasses handcrafted from sustainable bamboo. What’s more, each purchase gives the gift of vision to someone in need. Through their partnership with Optometry Giving Sight, they have found a unique opportunity to help grow organically alongside a non-profit organization.
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Founder of Causeartist // Social Entrepreneur