by Christy Williams | Featured Contributor
I’ve always been especially inspired by entrepreneurs who have an undeniable urge to make the world a better place. Socially-conscious business owners who are driven more by being of benefit to others than they are by the the bottom line. Who know what their “Why” is and are compelled by it so much so that they develop their career—and sometimes even their lives—around that mission.
I recently went on a web-quest to find some of those socially-minded people who are changing the world, and was so inspired and uplifted by their stories, I wanted to share them with you.
1. Jessica O. Matthews, Uncharted Play
In 2008, while Jessica O. Matthews was working on a class project at Harvard University, she invented SOCCKET, a soccer ball that harnesses energy. Realizing that she had the opportunity to bring this unique combination of play products and clean energy to communities worldwide, Matthews founded Uncharted Play.
With a mission of “Democratizing energy access worldwide,” Uncharted Play has developed what they call their Impact Vision around four pillars of: Inspire Through Play, Teach STEM, Create Social Solutions, and Scale Impact.
Not only has Matthews created a company where “doing good and having fun” go hand-in-hand, she is teaching others to do the same with her example.
2. Denise Paredes, Equal Uprise
Denise Paredes combined her passions for accessories, responsible consumerism, and quality craftsmanship to create this unique brand of modern home décor and accessories.
But Equal Uprise is more than just its one-of-a-kind pieces. Paredes created Equal Uprise with the goal of empowering and investing in the artisans from rural communities in Tunisia and Ecuador.
So not only does Paredes create jobs for the artisans in their communities, she also invests back in their businesses through their Business Development Program.
3. Doniece Sandoval, Lava Mae
We all know how soul-nourishing a hot shower or bath can feel after a long day. So imagine how it would feel to go days or even weeks without one. Doniece Sandoval came up with the idea for Lava Mae after seeing a young homeless woman on the street crying that she’d never be clean again.
Sandoval founded Lava Mae in 2013, and set to work converting public transportation buses into mobile toilet and shower units for the homeless in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Not only has Sandoval created a business that provides sorely-needed hygiene services, she has also offered our homeless friends the dignity they deserve with the “Radical Hospitality” of Lava Mae.
4. Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, Studio 189
Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah founded Studio 189 with a mission of using “fashion as an agent for social change, turning challenges on the ground into opportunities.” The artisan-produced collection of ethical fashion and accessories are all African and African-inspired.
The artisans use traditional techniques in crafting their wares, and oftentimes they are techniques that have been handed down from many generations. In turn, Studio 189 offers their artisans in Ghana empowerment, education, and opportunity. Fashion with a purpose, for sure.
5. Komal Ahmad, Copia
A lot of us grew up being told to clean our plates because there were starving people in the world. And now that I’m a mom, I absolutely cringe every time I scrape uneaten food off our plates, thinking of who that could have fed. Well, Komal Ahmad is putting all that uneaten, leftover food to use.
Copia is a tech-enabled service that redistributes food surplus to nonprofits in need. Once signed up, organizations can simply schedule a pickup of surplus food using the app, and one of Copia’s Food Hero Drivers will pick it up and deliver to an nonprofit in need.
Ahmad came up with the idea when she was at the University of California, Berkeley. She met a homeless veteran who had recently been discharged from Iraq but was still waiting for his benefits to kick in, and he hadn’t eaten in three days.
Meanwhile, across the street in Berkeley’s dining hall, Ahmad knew thousands of pounds of food were being thrown away. It became clear to her that lack of food wasn’t the problem—the logistics of distributing uneaten food was the problem. And she invented Copia to solve that problem.
For more inspirational stories about and resources for social entrepreneurs, visit Social Enablers.
Image of Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah of Studio 189: YouTube
Christy Williams is an expert in her own midlife crisis, and not-at-all an expert in spiritual awakenings, both of which are currently ongoing for her. She is proud to call herself: Sassy Writer/Editor. Career and Life Coach. Flexible Work Evangelist. Spiritual Seeker. Highly-Sensitive Soul. Empathic Intuitive. Aspiring Herbivore. Fierce Mom. Slacker Wife. Hot Mess. And she also wants you to know that you are not the boss of her. She would love to connect with you on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and her website.