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Conscious business: 10 social enterprises that are making a lasting impact

Conscious business: 10 social enterprises that are making a lasting impact

Article · By Kerry Needs on November 28, 2016

“We are living in a truly historic moment where anyone can create positive change” - Ashoka

The world as we once knew it is changing.

We are no longer looking at business as purely a means to make money; we are now beginning to generate income in such a way that it benefits both humanity and the wider environment. We’re becoming more conscious about how we generate and distribute income.

The idea of a social enterprise is relatively new, the idea first being coined in the late 1970’s. A business that is both environmentally sustainable and has social objectives is something that some entrepreneurs have taken very seriously, and created a significant social impact as a result.

Here’s ten social enterprises you just may have heard of. These organisations are making some serious noise in the world, and changing the lives of thousands of people worldwide.

  1. Malala Fund

Malala Yousafzai, an education activist, gained widespread publicity in 2012 when her campaigning efforts resulted in an assassination attempt by the Taliban after speaking about girls having the right to education. She is a co-recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize and set up the Malala Fund - an organisation dedicated to a world where every girl can complete 12 years of safe, quality education. The Malala Fund work locally and internationally with educational organisations, advocating for policy changes and resources to help girls thrive and learn. They have a wide range of notable supporters, including Google and 21st Century Fox.

  1. TOMS

Toms was created In 2006 when Blake Mycoskie befriended children in a village in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need, creating their famous ‘One for One’ mantra. So far, TOMS has given 60 million pairs of shoes to children in need. They also have other programmes, including include improving sight, access to clean water, and resources to have a safe birth.

  1. Ashoka

Ashoka is a citizen led social enterprise that encourages everyone to be a changemaker. As one of the first social enterprises created in 1980 by Bill Drayson, the organisation’s aim is to be a leader in the field of social entrepreneurship. As well as connecting social entrepreneurs together and learning from their challenges, Ashoka also has an ‘Every Child practising empathy’ initiative. They are passionate about young people creating change in the world, and have a large network of Fellows across the world, all passionate about creating lasting social change.

  1. Charity: Water

Charity:water is a social enterprise that allows access to clean, safe drinking water for developing countries. Scott Harrison, a former club promoter, decided to solve one of the world’s biggest problems - that there are 663 million people on the planet that don’t have access to clean water. Charity: water have recently developed their own virtual reality film, The Source, with more than 10,000 people viewing the premiere. They met Selam, a 13-year-old girl in Ethiopia, and experienced the moment her village received clean water for the first time. Every view unlocked a $30 donation for clean water. By the end of the three weeks, Charity:water unlocked enough to change the lives of over 12,460 people in need.

  1. Kick Start

Martin Fisher and Nick Moon set up KickStart in 1991, which at the time was known as ‘Approtech’. They created technologies such as irrigation pumps that are solely used in developing countries; allowing rural African farmers to generate more income and thus lift themselves out of poverty.

To date, they have helped over 1 million people gain a better future. They gain support from organisations such as Exxon mobile and IKEA, and partner with charities such as Oxfam and Unicef.

  1. Envirofit  

Envirofit is less than 15 years old, but has revolutionised the developing world by changing the way energy products are developed. With a goal of improving harmful traditional cooking methods, Envirofit innovated a product line of aesthetic, high performance cookstoves tailored to the needs of customers. Envirofit improves fuel use by up to 60% and reduces carbon emissions by 80%, a benefit that is now serving over 5 million people worldwide.

  1. Safe Point Trust

Marc Koska, Founder of the Safe Point Trust, is a man who’s ideas have made a significant global impact. The Safe Point Trust aims to ensure that all 17 billion injections given across the world each year are safe. He invented the first auto disabled syringe, which prevents re-use, and has now impacted over 4 billion lives, with the World Health Organisation announcing a new policy on injection safety following his efforts.  

  1. Terracycle

Terracycle has become a leading force in the recycling industry, by transforming hard to recycle waste. They do this by reusing, recycling or upcycling the products, instead of using it for landfill or incinerating it. They partner with brands around the world to offer free recycling programs, and then use the money for charitable projects. To date, 63 million people in 20 countries have helped to collect and recycle enough waste to raise over 15 million dollars for charities around the world, and Terracycle has won over 200 social entreprise awards worldwide.

  1. Change

Change is a social enterprise harnessing the power of the internet to make social changes. They use online petitions to highlight important social issues, and to date have had over 171 million people taking action through their site. This has resulted in over 19,000 victories in 196 countries. The site is an open platform, meaning anyone can set up and run a campaign for a cause they care about.

10. d. Light

d.light was founded by Ned Tozun and Sam Goldmun in 2004 after Sam witnessed a teenager get badly burnt by a kerosene lamp in Africa. d.light is a global leader in solar power, having sold more than twelve million solar light and power products in 62 countries, and is improving the lives of over 65 million people. Their aim now is to reach 100 million by 2020.




Article by:

Kerry Needs
on November 28, 2016

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