Workplace Innovations · · 16 min read

The 33 Social Entrepreneurs To Watch For In 2016

Social Entrepreneurship is expanding and evolving in all sectors of our society. From ethical manufacturing to healthcare for rural artisans these social entrepreneurs are innovating the way new business is done. The bottom line is still essential to a thriving company, but more and more it is not t

The 33 Social Entrepreneurs To Watch For In 2016

Social Entrepreneurship is expanding and evolving in all sectors of our society. From ethical manufacturing to healthcare for rural artisans these social entrepreneurs are innovating the way new business is done. The bottom line is still essential to a thriving company, but more and more it is not the only essential that brands are looking at. Bottom line impact will become more and more a way of doing business for social entrepreneurs. This is because bottom line impact is critical to bottom line cash flow. The stories, working conditions, fair wages, ethical manufacturing, impact, and quality is what consumers love about these brands not margins or stock price.

We all know as consumers come so do investors. I believe 2016 investors will start to really look at social enterprise in a new way.

Over the past year I have been introduced to new brands and social entrepreneurs from around the world. Here is a list of the 30 Social Entrepreneurs To Watch For In 2016 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 the new social enterprise business model that has manifested itself in the 21st century. This list is full of Individuals who are taking this new business model and impacting our world in a real way.

Hayley Besheer


Hayley is the founder of

MADI Apparel,

a women’s undergarment brand that intends to Make a Difference domestically and globally. Every pair of MADI undies you purchase, they donate a pair to a woman in need. The start of MADI was ignited by a statistic that Hayley heard, which she found difficult to believe. UNDERWEAR IS THE MOST NEEDED, UNDER-DONATED ITEM OF CLOTHING IN THE US.  She went on to do a little more research and started calling homeless shelters to follow up with the statistic.

Turns out, it’s true.  This is when Hayley knew MADI was a true calling for her life.  The homeless shelters suggested that she also reach out to domestic violence shelters, as they are always looking for new underwear donations.  The pieces matched up.  Underwear is on the urgent needs list at almost every domestic violence and homeless shelter.  Not only would underwear donations make a woman feel clean, but they would help bring back confidence. With this in mind MADI was forged and created to make well designed, comfortable, American made undies for all women. Hayley graduated from the University of Missouri with degrees in Journalism and Fine Art.

Prashant MehtaHassan AhmadAdam Long


Prashant, Hassan, and Adam are the founders of

Conscious Step

, a social enterprise creating well designed socks to fight for global causes. In partnership with the some of the world’s most impactful organizations, each design contributes to a different global cause. Sourced in India from one of the world’s most ecologically and socially sustainable supply chains, Conscious Step socks are made from organic, Fair Trade cotton and deliver real impact with every pair sold.

In partnership with UNAIDS, the  company has socks that provide 1 week of HIV therapy for an expectant  mother; with Room to Read they have socks provide 2 schoolbooks; with Action Against Hunger they have socks that provide 6 meals for a starving child; with each pair provides 18 months of clean water to someone without this basic need, lastly, with Trees for the Future they have socks that plant 20 trees. These three founders all have an amazing backgrounds in specific areas that will no doubt allow Conscious Step to thrive in 2016.

Adam was a marketing strategist and director of Engineers Without Borders. He has a Bachelor of Industrial Design, Marketing and Manufacturing from University of New South Wales. Prashant was a finance and micro-finance expert on Wall St. He has degrees from Bryant University and the University of New South Wales. Hassan was a medical doctor interning at the World Health Organisation. He graduated with advanced degrees in Medicine from the University of New South Wales.

Ryne and Kelly Olson


Ryne and Kelly are the founders of

Give Activewear

, a new women’s activewear brand dedicated to ending world hunger. Purchases of any piece in the collection will provide between six and fifteen life-saving supplement meals to malnourished children in Uganda. The company was created out of frustration


says. Frustrated with many of her generation who seemed to care more about #selfies and #sundayfunday’s than anything else. She wanted to find a way to shift at least some of that focus and time spent on social media to giving back; volunteering, and doing random acts of kindness around the community.

So she started #JustOneAct, a movement dedicated to encouraging millennials to become the generation of generosity.  After seeing #JustOneAct spread, Kelly was inspired further.  She realized that her passion was to help the helpless and provide support to those in need.  She chose to give back on a much larger scale by helping to end world hunger.  So, Kelly and her husband, Ryne,  created Give Activewear together. Kelly holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a MBA from Devry University. Check out their great line of activewear here.

Madison Mikhail Bush


Madison is the founder of the POINT App, a new social good app looking to transform the charity landscape. Sports has ESPN, Friends have Facebook, and Madison wants to make POINT the go to app for everything charity. Its an innovative approach to one of America’s greatest pastimes. Giving is a major part of our society and culture as Americans, but it has long been outdated and slow to innovate.

Madison believes charity should be simple. “I found out 2 years ago that I was a social entrepreneur. But to me, I’m a nerdy person (who cares too much about everything) trying to make the connection causes, volunteering, and giving unreasonably easy.” Madison has a degree in Biology from Capital University in Columbus, OH.

Check out the app here

and Madison’s vision for the future of charity.

Will Green


Will is the founder of Wills London, a vegan shoe brand that’s taking off in Europe. Wills London is dedicated to provide animal and human friendly shoes with high-end styles and fair prices. Will had a goal in mind and it aims to bridge the gap between everyday people and ethically produced vegan shoes. Wills is about getting the latest fashions out there at a fair prices, while not hurting animals or people in the process.  Willis London has been Nominated for Best Clothes and Fashion Award VegFest UK Awards and for Best Vegan Footwear UK Vegan Awards. William graduated with a B.A. from

Middlesex University

in London. Check out his collection of ethically made vegan shoes


Rachel Connors & Joe Demin

Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle
Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle

Rachel & Joe are the founders of

Yellow Leaf Hammocks

. Each Yellow Leaf Hammock directly creates sustainable artisan jobs in rural Thailand and empowers mothers + communities. Each hammock is 100% Handwoven and designed for comfort, strength and outdoor performance. Yellow Leaf stems from the belief that we can transform the world and lift the next billion people out of extreme poverty by changing the perceptions of shoppers and upgrading the style of handcrafted goods.

Artisan activity is the second largest employer in the developing world, but as Rachel explains “there is very little business, marketing or modern design sensibility behind most artisan initiatives. If we can transform the perception of socially responsible goods from a “guilt” purchase into “luxury,” “craftsmanship,” and “irreplicable” we can transform the narrative for millions of women and families”. Rachel holds a B.A./B.S. in Public Relations & Political Science from the University of Florida.  Joe is a jack of all trades entrepreneur with a passion for applying market based funding solutions toward powerful social change. He is fluent in Russian, but not so fluent in Thai(yet). Joe holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from DePaul University. Check out Yellow Leaf’s amazing hammocks


Carol Luong & Matthew Martindale


Carol & Matthew our the founders of


, a data and social good platform growing the $24 billion market for online giving to nonprofits. They make it easier for 501(c)(3) nonprofits to raise donations online through a peer-to-peer fundraising platform and zero fee donation pages. They empower nonprofit staff and their supporters with the tools to create unique and personal campaigns to raise more donations, and never take a cut from donations because nonprofits deserve more of their hard earned donations.

With billions of dollars of donations going to online fees every year, GreatPositive is making online fundraising more effective and efficient so that more of this money will actually go towards improving this world. Carol is largely driven by her purpose and passion for philanthropy. She has leveraged her 7 years of marketing experience in the private sector and 17 years of volunteer experience with nonprofits to build GreatPositive. Her expertise is in online marketing, customer acquisition, communications, affiliate marketing, conferences & events, and analytics. Carol has an MBA from Binghamton University.

Matthew oversees design and technology at GreatPositive. He is dedicated to improving the way donors and nonprofits interact and change the world through powerful and cost-effective fundraising tools. Matthew became an entrepreneur soon after high school and has been starting and working with early stage companies since. He has also held several senior-level design and engineering roles throughout his career before becoming a co-founder at GreatPositive. Check out the GreatPositive social good platform


Dallas Crum, Connor Kingsbury, Dylan Carlson, and Trever Bostrom


Meet the squad at Vivid Roots, a social enterprise that gives clean water to those in need with every purchase. They teamed up with Rotary International to fund their first water project in Chiquimula, Guatemala. They are now continuing the partnership with multiple Rotary clubs & the non-profit Water For The Americas to implement sustainable clean water systems in developing countries. The team consists of four friends, all in their early 20s, from Boise, ID who decided to start a brand that embodied their fun and energetic passion for impacting the world in a fun way. Check out their great products


Nicholas Coblence 


Nicholas has spent his career working with global brands in luxury and the arts. His specialties include brand building, positioning, strategy, insights and marketing. During his career, Nicholas worked for Chanel, Assouline, Ashes and Snow, Bill Blass, the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art and the Batsheva Dance Company. As a strategic consultant, Nicholas has worked with Net-a-Porter, Topshop, Christie’s, Burberry, Ford, EMI, SAB Miller, American Express and Starwood Hotels.

In 2014, Nicholas founded

Cords for Music

, a social enterprise that gives a portion of each sale to charities that help fund music education initiatives in public schools and underserved communities.

Cords for Music

produces a line of jewelry and is expanding into other accessories categories focused on the music lover and professional. CFM’s first major partnership is with Education through Music (ETM), a New York based non-profit with an affiliate in Los Angeles. Education Through Music partners with inner-city schools to provide all students with music as a core subject, and to create school communities that value the arts. Nicholas is a French/American New Yorker with professional experience in Japan, France, Italy, Israel and the US. He is a graduate from Vassar College and Columbia University with a masters in Arts Administration.

Hector Alvarez & Patricia Lucero 


Hector & Paty are founders of the social enterprise


. Each purchase has an impact :: 1 beanie = 5 meals; 1 bracelet = 1 dental care; 1 bag = 1 set of school supplies; 1 poncho = 1 school uniform. Each product is unique because it proudly carries the hand signature of its artisan, to enable her a sense of recognition. The signature allows you to trace the artisan of your clothing piece by visiting, where you can discover that woman’s unique story.

Hector is a Swiss-Chilean entrepreneur; co-founder and business developer of social clothing venture


Born and raised in Chile, Hector left his country after his secondary education to go study Business Administration at California State University Fullerton in the USA.  During his studies, Hector had already started a successful part-time photography business, which he then continued to develop as a full-time enterprise after graduation.  Years later, Hector got married to a his high-school sweetheart, a Swiss National and left California to move to Lausanne, where he completed a Master in Management at HEC Lausanne and city which he uses as base of operations to grow his social enterprise.

Patricia is a Bolivian architect and social entrepreneur. Interested by the art of drawing and planning, Paty decided to study Architecture and Interior Design at the Universidad Mayor de San Simón in Bolivia. In search for ways to further her professional career, Paty left her home country to go to the USA, where besides her professional experience, she also became an active volunteer member of the Arthritis Foundation. Since back in the United States, Patricia has really focused on the social issues that affect the people of her country. Willing to do something about this, she decided to put her professional career on hold and venture herself into starting beyondBeanie. Check out the beyond beanie product line


Tina Tangalakis



founder, Tina Tangalakis, always sought to combine her love of art and humanitarian work. As a student she studied costume design at California Institute of the Arts and went on to work as a wardrobe stylist for film and television.  In September 2009, Tina participated in a volunteer program abroad which landed her in Hohoe, Ghana. There she quickly became enamored with the culture and warm hearts of the friends she had made. With her background in business and design, Tina teamed up with a local entrepreneur to begin Della.  The mission behind Della is to empower the women we work with by providing jobs, education and skills training, so that they will one day take these opportunities  and turn them into a lasting, better way of life. Every product is carefully handcrafted by a seamstress using authentic West African textiles. Check out some of the Della products


Anbu Anbalagapandian


Anbu Anbalagapandian is the Founder and CEO of

Orange Harp

, a curated marketplace for amazing products made with a deep commitment to the planet and its people. She started Orange Harp with a vision to use technology and design to make it easy for people to live a socially conscious lifestyle. Fashion is the first step in this mission. She grew up in India where she got introduced to socially conscious living when her family set up rainwater harvesting in their farm.  She is a computer engineer by training who has been coding since 13. For the past 10 years, she has been building mobile products that are used by millions of people. She received her Bachelors in Engineering from Madurai Kamaraj University, India. Download the

Orange Harp app for IOS.

Spencer Brendel


Spencer is the founder of

Play Hard Give Back

, a healthy and tasty snack company to fuel your appetite for social change. PHGB athletes are committed to going beyond their sport by representing nonprofit organizations of their choosing. Through partnerships with hotels, outfitters, offices and more, PHGB is able to raise money and awareness for athletes and their aligned causes with our healthy products. Spencer has been playing hard his entire life. The Sun Valley Idaho native had an active upbringing that manifested in a successful athletic career. He attended Univeristy of St Thomas in Minnesota and played four years of division III NCAA hockey for the Tommies.

Spencer’s active sports background was balanced by an early exposure to many third world countries through extensive traveling with his grandparents. This travel experience helped Spencer cultivate a sense of gratitude and also directly contributed to the development of the idea for PlayHard GiveBack. Spencer co-founded the organization with his father Jeff, and mainly handles relationships with the athletes and all marketing aspects of PHGB.

Dr. Calla J. Kleene & Dr. Hannah Anderson

well_labs (1)

Calla and Hannah are the founders of Well Labs, a supplement company on a mission to give underprivileged children access to lifestyle medicine. As they give back, they also want to give you the highest quality nutritional goods at the click of a button. Their goal is to make preventative health care easy, practical, and accessible all at the same time! A portion of each Well Labs sale goes toward teaching kids the lifestyle skills they need for lasting mental, physical, and nutritional health. They’re helping healthy kids become healthy adults by teaching illness prevention to those who need it most.

Dr. Kleene, co-founder and CEO of Well Labs quickly saw the reactive sick-care model several years ago when she first opened up her small clinic in Iowa.  Even more alarming, was how rapid preventable diseases continued to affect even the youngest of her patients.  Lifestyle medicine should be simple, accessible, and affordable.  Her mission is to offer high quality, physician-grade supplements and education about preventative care, while making it practical and convenient. Dr, Kleene graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Dr. Anderson  believes that real health involves preventing disease, not just reacting to it. As a chiropractor, professor, and blogger she works to educate others about nutrition and practical ways to achieve long term health. Through Well Labs, she’s bringing you simple and practical ways to feel great, and look good doing it. Dr. Anderson graduated from Luther College and Palmer College of Chiropractic. Check out the Well Labs and their innovative approach


Ricardo Juan Bueso & Ricardo Jose Bueso


The two brothers are founder of


, a social enterprise that has taken a creative, innovative, and inspiring spin on what it means to be an active lifestyle brand. Designed to provide responsibly sourced, accessibly priced, daily use goods while donating 100% of its profits to nonprofits, THX sells a selection of high-quality men’s and women’s Swiss fragrances, as well as deliciously impactful Direct-Trade Guatemalan coffee.

The two brothers are first generation Americans from Guatemala. The brothers grew up mostly in Boston and were living in Guatemala for some time, but it became pretty dangerous, so they decided tom move back to states. Leading up to the founding of THX, Ricardo Jose was doing social work around the world. He graduated from University of Miami with a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies. Ricardo Juan graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Business with an MBA focused on Finance.

Sabrina Mutukisna


Sabrina Mutukisna is the Founder & CEO of

The Town Kitchen

– a community-driven food company that employs and empowers urban youth. Since their January 2015 launch, The Town Kitchen has delivered thousands of meals to clients like Pandora, Plum Organics and the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee. It has been featured by Fast Company, East Bay Express and KRON 4.

Prior to launching The Town Kitchen, Sabrina worked to create sustainable workforce pathways that bridged stakeholders across public and private sectors. She provided technical leadership to six California community colleges and worked with NASA to embed hand-on science programming in 46 after school programs.  Sabrina is currently a board member for New Leaders Council Oakland and mentors young entrepreneurs in Youth Impact HUB. She graduated with honors from UC Berkeley.

Joshua Maddox


Josh is the a co-founder of Agrego, an organisation that builds social enterprise models that seek to lift as many people as possible permanently out of poverty.  He has 10+ years of international management experience in strictly for-profit organisations, but now is excited to finally be moving into something more meaningful. His most recent projects social good project now is called

Stock Disrupt

. Stock Disrupt is a fascinating new microstock startup platform that will give 100% of profits to build creative training centers and provide opportunity in low income countries and urban centers. He is also working on two other social impact projects called Domogo and Eduku. More on these projects coming soon.

Niranjan Kumar & Devan Anderson


As a college sophomore doing research on microfinance in a small village in Honduras, Niranjan Kumar saw first hand the major impact that micro-loans had for small businesses.  He came back to the US dreaming of different ways to create a similar impact. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in Economics and Public Policy, he teamed up with his good friend Devan Anderson, a Menswear Designer & accomplished Digital Strategist.

Devan had started his own brand and knew the hurdles entrepreneurs faced in raising capital and growing a business.   Together, they felt they could build a company that highlighted and celebrated entrepreneurship, all while sustaining microfinance as a part of its mission. They founded


, an American made headwear company that provides a $10 microloan for every item sold to entrepreneurs within the United States. In alliance with their nonprofit partner Kiva, they have already supported 11 Entrepreneurs and are ready to exponentially increase their impact in 2016.”

Heather McDougall & John McDougall


This bro and sis team of Heather and John are the founders of


. Bogobrush aims to not only produce a 100% biodegradable toothbrush but to help someone in need with their plan to give a Bogobrush away to someone who needs one with every one that is purchased.

Bogobrush believes the world deserves a toothbrush worth caring about. They believe that it starts with knowing where it came from, and how it was made. They believe it grows from an attention to aesthetics that will make you smile, and deepens with the beauty of giving back to someone in need. They believe that what is good for the planet, is good for us.

Heather is a vibrant and curious gal who is determined to help the world be a brighter place. She’s an honors law school grad, a yoga teacher, and a social entrepreneur. She’s has also worked on venture finance and non-profit lobbying.

John is an award-winning industrial designer with a passion for sustainability. He has done work for General Motors, Peugeot, Fisker Automotive, Dean Kamen, Coca-Cola, and others. When he isn’t drawing toothbrushes or cars, John is most likely outside, searching for adventure by land, air, sea, or snow. Check out the innovative Bogobrush


Ashley McIntosh


Ashley McIntosh is the Founder of

Azura Bay

, an online boutique dedicated to carrying luxurious, ethically-made and eco-friendly lingerie, swimwear, and loungewear; where every purchase helps give back to environmental and social causes. Ashley has been a Marketing Professional for the past five years, working for companies in a range of industries. While volunteering at Ten Thousand Villages during University, she was inspired to create a social enterprise in the world of fashion. She has a diploma in Business Administration from Red River College (2007) and a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of Manitoba (2011). Check out Azura Bay’s elegant collection


Related Post: Causeartist Presents: The 36 Social Entrepreneurs To Watch For In 2018

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