On World Entrepreneur Day, we round up how social entrepreneurs across the globe are making an impact local through everything from recycled plastic bags to sharing sugar.
With a mere 3% of Brazilians owning two-thirds of the country’s arable land, the odds are stacked against the small farmer. Raízs’ swish e-commerce platform aims to redress the balance. It connects 92 farms selling 160 organic products to urban outlets and consumers. This puts money into the pocket of the little guy and healthy food in the fridges of time-starved urbanites - economically strengthening the food chain.
Look out for: Further demand for Raízs after becoming one of 10 products selected for Sustainable Brands Rio 2016.
We recognize the value of small & independent farmers by connecting them to urban consumers
Repurpose Schoolbags, South Africa
This female-managed enterprise has the school run and homework fully covered. Made from recycled plastic bags, the satchels have a sonar panel and reflective panels on the back to make pupils more visible. This transforms into a lantern, so children in poor communities without money for kerosene or candles are able to study after dark.
Look out for: Repurpose CEO Thato Kgatlhanye’s recent appearance with Bill Gates discussing African innovation on MTV Base.
Repurpose schoolbag is an upcycled solar-powered schoolbag.
Dine with Khayelitsha, South Africa
Township vibrancy. African food. World-changing conversation. Dine with Khayelitsha invites people of all backgrounds and nationalities into this Cape Town township for a “purposely awesome” experience: a three-course meal washed down with themed discussions on the likes of race, social entrepreneurship and land redistribution. The 200-rand fee goes to the Have Fun primary-level education program, a leadership initiative for South African children.
Look out for: Dine with Khayelitsha’s partnership with Xhosa-learning NPO UBuntu Bridge.
Dine with Khayelitsha is a conversational dinner served with a treat of true African cuisine through themed dinners.
Featured at the MENA Social Enterprise Forum, Hydrobarley produces fresh animal fodder for small farmers using hydroponic methods: 80% more nutritious and three times less costly than regular commercial fodder. Not only is this good ecological sense, but it’s a plus for rural children, too. They’re often the ones forced to search for extra food for family livestock, meaning they’re not in school.
Look out for: Four new production units in 2016 to add to the two existing ones, increasing fodder production from 18 tonnes a month to 150.
Zó Project, Vietnam
Manufacturing paper from the bark of the Dó tree - found in northern Vietnam - involves around 100 different steps in a process that takes up to a month. Zó Project are keeping this dying tradition alive by making and selling Dó paper products, from stationary to fans to lamps. It’s not a cultural indulgence: founded three years ago and based in Hanoi, this sustainable business is there to reinforce the value chain in the Vietnamese handmade paper market. Look out for: more new types of paper to add to Zó Project’s existing 20 (Dó paper was traditionally produced in very few varieties).
Tem Açúcar?, Brazil
Joining the sharing revolution alongside the likes of Freecycle and Streetlife, is Tem Açúcar? (translation: Got Sugar?). It’s a web platform allowing users to lend and borrow objects for short amounts of time, which aims to encourage more reasonable rates of consumption. Founder Camila Carvalho thinks economic crises in South America have helped promote the sharing economy – and has 75,000 users and a 50% fulfilment rate for their requests to prove it.
Look out for: Tem Açúcar’s forthcoming mobile app making the sharing revolution handheld.
"Tem Açúcar?" é uma plataforma que facilita o empréstimo de objetos / We facilitate the lending and exchange of objects
What 3 Words, UK
What 3 Words is a new universal addressing system that breaks the globe down into 57 trillion 3m2 portions, each identified by a three-word combination. Much easier to remember than GPS coordinates and more precise than postal addresses, it has the potential to break down poorly mapped developing countries for a multitude of purposes, such as business growth, service provision and crime reporting.
Look out for: The system (already available in nine languages) being rolled out into Italian, Greek and Arabic.
Three billion people worldwide cook on indoor open-wood fires, which causes health problems that result in 4m deaths a year - for context, that’s more than Aids, TB and malaria combined. BioLite’s HomeStove burns wood more efficiently with less emissions. Which not only reduces those alarming statistics, but frees up time for those forced to collect fuel - and as an added bonus uses the fire’s heat to generate free electricity.
Look out for: BioLite’s new BaseLantern, a powerful 100-lumen outdoor lamp.
TV series The Wire made clear the extent of social deprivation in Baltimore. Knowing that the process starts early, Thread offer mentoring and community resources to the bottom 25% of high-school students in the city. The organisation offers support throughout their remaining school time, and for up to six years afterward. This doesn’t just benefit students – it allows educated volunteers who might otherwise leave Baltimore the opportunity to build long-lasting community links.
Look out for: Thread’s continuing series of conversation nights in August, bringing together students, volunteers and commercial partners from around the city.