Younger generations are rising up and searching for accountability in the business world. This has led corporations and startups to change for the better. Many individuals become social entrepreneurs. They seek to use their business to make a positive impact on the world. A noble cause indeed.
But, non-profits have existed for some time and we should not keep them out of the equation. For they were the forefathers that led to the changes we see going on now. This has led to hybrid businesses that are part nonprofit, and part for-profit.
Below are some of the famous and fascinating founders of the social entrepreneurship industry.
Ashoka: Innovators for the Public
Perhaps the most famous example, Bill Drayton is a pioneer of the social entrepreneur movement. Drayton founded Ashoka: Innovators for the Public back in the year 1980. Its purpose was to shape the global industry into one that allows social entrepreneurs to flourish and to assist social entrepreneurs in finding solutions to today’s problems. Drayton continues his push for a better world by serving as chair of the boards of Get America Working! and Youth Venture.
Another one of our fascinating founders is Rachel Brathen, who had a question: What if social media could become a social mission? Using the name “Yoga Girl”, she wrote a book, becoming a New York Times best seller. It is also her username on Instagram which has amassed over 2 million followers. With the success of her yoga practices and tips, she created a larger online presence called one-eight.tv that had services relating to health and yoga. Brathen hopes that her work has teachers form special relationships with people who are in need of healing.
A trip to Argentina in 2006 changed Blake Mycoskie. He had helped an organization provide shoes to children. He traveled from village to village and saw the hardships and poverty. It inspired him to found his own social entrepreneurship called TOMS Shoes. TOMS states that they will donate a pair of shoes for everyone sold. They have also done this for:
- Access to Water
The brand has worked hard to bring awareness to global issues. As of this year, they have provided over 75 million pairs of shoes and 450,000 weeks of safe drinking water in multiple developing counties. Also, their vision program has restored the sight of 780,000 people by giving them surgery or glasses. Talk about a truly caring person!
Sanjit “Bunker” Roy
Sanjit Roy was born into a wealthy family back in June 1945. When he visited India’s most rural villages, he was absolutely shocked at the poverty. So, in 1972 he founded Barefoot College. The college is solar-powered and for the poor. But Roy did not stop there. He created the Social Work and Research Centre the same year to help provide water and irrigation to drought-prone areas.
He has since then been named one of 50 environmentalists that could save the planet according to the Guardian and 100 of the most influential people by Time magazine.
Jeffrey Hollender is the co-founder and former CEO of Seventh Generation. It had formed when Hollender and his business partner Alan Newman had gotten their hands on a mail order catalog that contained energy conservation productions. This inspired them to form their company, selling eco-friendly household appliances and products. They struck gold and made out with $8 million in just 3 years of operating.
Since stepping down in 2009, Hollender continued to stay busy by co-founding the American Sustainable Business Council. It is a coalition of businesses that are committed to sustainable business practices. Hollender has also written six books and co-founded Sustain natural with his daughter which sells products for personal and sexual health. He has also been a board member of Greenpeace USA, Verite, Health Care Without Harm, and Practically Green.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fascinating founders. Many people remain out there who commit themselves to founding businesses to help society. These businesses are important to our communities, society, and humanity as a whole.