Keeping in Touch: Social Entrepreneurs That Give Back

With the in-your-face daily onslaught of presidential candidates that are trumpeting their accomplishments to get votes, sometimes they can sound so boastful, but end up quacking like Daffy Duck!

For a couple of the frontrunners who will remain nameless, if you look at their history and financial successes, few have a clean record of accomplishments without some sort of compromises to their integrity. An apparent few are not in it for the selfless contributions to society at large.

Yet, there are many well-known small businesses that are heralded for their contributions to helping humanity. In the twenty-first business models, many companies are incorporating giving back. In some cases it gives consumers the satisfaction to do something good as well. From eco-friendly recycled clothing to creating low-carbon footprints which have boosted the selling point for new companies, there is a new wave of business models to choose from.

In 2013, BusinessInsider.com shared a story about Blake Mycoskie who found his calling during a trip to Argentina:

"Struck by the sheer number of children living in such dire poverty that they lacked even shoes, Mycoskie decided to take action.

His solution was as simple as it was innovative: He founded TOMS, a for-profit company that donates a pair of shoes for every pair purchased by consumers. Mycoskie dubbed this strategy One for One, and has since expanded his offering to include eyewear. As of today, TOMS has delivered over 10 million pairs of shoes to children in need in over 60 countries" Not only is this company a success, with incredible earnings, it is a recognizable and trusted brand amongst sought after millennials.

Another identifiable and well received brand that is highly respected in the bath and beauty sector is Burt's Bees. This eco-friendly product line is based on utilizing the healing properties and miraculous uses of honey. When you buy one of their products you know some of it is going to the Greater Good foundation, established in 2007. In an effort to expand the mission of "producing healthier, eco-friendly, personal care products" they are also helping other social entrepreneurs to create change and earn a living.

There are many well established brands that give back, many of which have been around for a long time, with a growing number found in the healthy food category. Take Newman's Own, founded by actor Paul Newman and author A.E. Hotchner in 1982. Whilst only batch making homemade salad dressings and sauces for friends, as a hobby, the friends soon saw an opportunity to turn this hobby into a benevolent movement that in its 30 year history, has given over $450m to thousands of charities.

Moving into the new millennium, demand for transparency in labels, Nell Newman (daughter) expanded the brand to Newman's Own Organics. It is now a separate company that produces only organic foods including chocolate, cookies, pretzels and pet food. It seems as if many of these companies just started out with humble beginnings and then became household names.

Following many of the examples set, there are a growing number of businesses that prefer Social entrepreneurship as an alternative to mainstream capitalism. These social entrepreneurs have created unique offerings to problems that those focused on profit would normally neglect. So, by utilizing entrepreneurial principles to create social change, they direct their attention to global issues such as poverty, environmental issues and access to basic resources.

According to Entrepreneurs Toolkit (ET), there are a few other notable social entrepreneurs, such as Sam Goldman and Ned Tozun. Inspired during a volunteering tour with the Peace Corps in Benin, Africa, Goldman questioned whether there was a safer and better way to provide lighting and energy to the developing world after his neighbor had an accident with a kerosene lamp and was injured. This developed, when meeting Tozun at an Entrepreneurial class and the pair formed d.Light, which ET describes as "a hybrid organization focused on providing the world's poor with eco-friendly, cheap and safe lighting" and is aiming to have reached 100 million people in the developing world by 2020.

When looking at utilities, communication is another field that has seen social entrepreneurs develop in. Keeping in touch through connecting America was created through the Federal Lifeline Assistance program from The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under Ronald Reagan. An initiative to help provide those on low incomes with the means of communication, this program is available across the country and is a great example of the blend of commercially focused providers working alongside the more socially entrepreneurial. Large corporate giants like AT&T & T-Mobile are operating alongside social entrepreneurs, like Florida based Issa Asad of Q Link Wireless, to help those on lower incomes stay connected. The program works by offering those who are part of an existing assistance program, or who fall below 135% of the federal poverty guidelines with heavily discounted rates for their home and cell phones, ensuring that as many people as possible have access to the basic means of communication. An idea which perhaps could be adopted by other sectors to help those in need.

With all of the pressing and immediate threats to our modern world, it is comforting to know that there are those out there who will either use their experience, wealth or influence to help make society, and the world, a better place for us all to live in. Whilst it has traditionally been those who have a passion or drive to support a cause with wealth or passion, all organizations can contribute. In fact, with these good examples to follow, even those who come from the world of percentages and profit margins can contribute to this social entrepreneur movement and make a big difference to those who need it most in a time where many have lost faith benevolence.