In today’s society, there is an increasing focus on what social entrepreneurs and social enterprises can do to create positive social impact and better the state of the globe.
Social enterprises are organizations which serve a cause through reinvestment of their profits. While it’s difficult to say just how many social enterprises there are globally—nobody has yet worked out a way to quantify them—evidence from the United Kingdom suggests that they are growing rapidly and outperforming traditional private-sector businesses in some areas. That may be due to a perfect storm of increased pressure on charities to self-fund and increased pressure on corporations to behave responsibly in their operations—social enterprises serve both of these drives.
What is known is that social entrepreneurs set out not to make enormous profits but to make an enormous difference. Here are a few of the leaders whose businesses are creating positive social impact in the world today.
5 Social Entrepreneurs Creating Positive Social Impact
Blake Mycoskie, Founder of TOMS Shoes
Blake Mycoskie’s trip to Argentina that led to the creation of TOMS has become the stuff of legend. But it’s not just the fifty million shoes his company has given away that makes him a world-changer. Nor is it the sight-saving eye surgeries, access to clean water, or prenatal and maternal health care TOMS has funded.
No, it’s the One for One model of business that Mycoskie pioneered: the success of TOMS, which gives away a pair of shoes to needy communities for every pair purchased, inspired other businesses to adopt similar methods. More importantly, TOMS and Mycoskie sparked huge interest in social enterprise, social impact, and corporate social responsibility in general, leading to wider discussion of (and adoption of) sustainable and beneficial business models.
Marc Koska, Founder of SafePoint Trust
Billions of injections are given around the world each year in order to treat and prevent disease. But there is no purpose to receiving an injection from a dirty needle—which happens all too often in poor and underserved communities everywhere. According to SafePoint, founded by British inventor Marc Koska, syringes in developing countries are re-used, on average, four times. This re-use leads to the spread of HIV, hepatitis B, and other devastating diseases.
Marc Koska founded SafePoint to raise awareness of the dangers of dirty injections. The trust provides education to health care providers and patients in the most vulnerable dirty injection hotspots, acts as an advocate for policy changes, and—most crucially—offers access to Koska’s K-1 syringe, which locks into the closed position after first use and so cannot be re-used again.
Due in part to advocacy by Koska and SafePoint, the World Health Organization recently announced that it is making injection safety—specifically, the use of non-reusable syringes—the focus of its third global health initiative.
Rosanne Haggerty, Founder of Community Solutions
Community Solutions, founded in 2011, aims to create positive social impact by striving to end multi-generational family poverty and homelessness through policies and practices based on research. Haggerty’s data-driven approach to homelessness has allowed her community partners to understand in detail the scope and causes of homelessness in their region. It has also identified the most effective method for ending homelessness: providing housing coupled with access to social and mental health support. Haggerty has been a vocal advocate for “housing first” methods for over twenty years, but with Community Solutions, she is able to scale and tailor that method for specific communities.
Community Solutions helps local governments and organizations identify the chronically homeless in their areas with research methods and data analysis. They then develop strategies for that particular region’s homeless population, developing the support networks necessary to keep their clients housed. Since 2011, Community Solutions has re-homed more than 100,000 people throughout the US, including veterans, mental health patients, and addicts.
Dr. Amit Goffer, Founder and Former Chief Technology Officer of ReWalk
Dr. Amit Goffer, educated in Israel and the United States as an electrical engineer, founded ReWalk in 2001 following an ATV accident that left him paralyzed. The company sells a futuristic-sounding product that would not sound out of place in a defense contractor’s catalog: robotic exoskeletons. However, the ReWalk device was developed to improve quality of life for those with paralysis. With the ReWalk system, patients with lower limb paralysis can stand, walk, and even descend staircases for limited periods.
The company has developed two models: the ReWalk Personal, which is intended for daily use outside the home, and the ReWalk Rehabilitation, which is intended for use as part of physical therapy sessions inside hospitals and clinics. ReWalk aims to continue developing progressively more functional and light exoskeletons. It is the only exoskeletal device approved by the US FDA.
Dr. Christie Peacock, Founder of Sidai Africa
At first glance, Dr. Christie Peacock’s Sidai Africa may not look particularly world-changing: the company helps livestock farmers in Kenya take better care of their animals. The franchise-model social enterprise provides access to quality medicines, feeds, insurance, and other services, all staffed by trained and qualified veterinarians and livestock technicians.
The company aims to establish a network of livestock care centers within Kenya and then expand into other countries via partnerships with NGOs. In a region where many families’ only asset is their livestock—and where 25 per cent of livestock die prematurely every year due to preventable diseases—Sidai’s model has the potential to raise the quality of life for millions of people by protecting their most valuable assets.
As the world begins to focus on what’s needed in today’s socioeconomic climate, more social entrepreneurs and social enterprises have risen to contribute to the world’s environment, issues, and people. The five social entrepreneurs listed here are only five out of many who are doing important, needed, and socially impacting work out in the world today.
What are some other social entrepreneurs you know that are creating positive social impact?