Talking Social and I Don’t Mean Social Media

June 21, 2016

When we hear the term start-up nowadays we think of very successful businesses that we can’t live without. Most of the businesses are social media sites that leave us wondering how we ever got along without them. Start-ups are also believed to garner unknown financial riches, as investors are known to pump a great deal of money into the perceived next big thing. Tech start-ups tend to be the most talked about and in demand, but what about social start-ups?

Increasingly start-ups are looking to make money and have a positive societal and environmental impact. According to Fast Company in the U.S. about 5.7% of working age people are involved in the start-up phase of social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship projects range from addressing irrigation problems to recycling waste and much much more in between.

Venture capitalists or angel investors tend to fund most start-ups but a growing trend is to be funded by crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing is the process of getting work or funding by a crowd of people as stated by Daily Crowdsource. This practice has led to the growing popularity of sites such as Kickstarter which has made getting funding to start a business much easier. Crowdfunding offers an additional benefit beyond just funding. Often times in crowdfunding you get to keep full ownership of your company opposed to having to give an equity stake to investors.

Recently the University of Chicago held its Social New Venture challenge, which the Chicago Tribune covered. This challenge requires participants to show a focus on social impact. Since this challenge began in 2011, 75 companies have participated in the program with 25 still in business today, according to the Booth School of Business. All of these companies competed for various monetary prizes to help advance their vision.

Here are a few of this year’s participants and winners:

AccessArc: winner of $20,000 and its goal is to allow inmates more access to legal advocacy.

JoinGiving: winner of $20,000; Their company allows businesses to donate gift cards to nonprofits, who in turn use those gift cards to incentivize donors. This is beneficial as incentives will likely lead to more donors helping nonprofits.

Previous winners:

As America is currently in a voting cycle last year’s winner BallotReady is a timely addition.

BallotReady is a start-up that produces online voter guides. This provides easy to understand information on candidates in your area. This is especially helpful in a voting cycle, which America is currently in. This will help you get educated on candidates and make informed decisions.

Here are some other social start-ups as previously covered by Mashable:

Aunt Bertha: This is an aggregator of charitable programs at every level from local to federal conveniently located in one place. Aunt Bertha also works to match people with charitable programs based on what they are looking for.

Echoing Green: This company is more so built around the idea of further investing in social entrepreneurs and changemakers. Echoing Green provides grants to entrepreneurs who are committed to making a difference.

Reboot Stories: Focused on engaging children from low-income school districts in an attempt to help them become better readers. This program uses technology and multimedia to help children learn in classrooms that may not have this opportunity otherwise.

Here are some other start-ups also brought to us by Mashable:

Bookshare: This is the world’s largest online library of copyrighted books for people with difficulties such as blindness and other print related issues. Those with visual impairments can listen to books, read using digital braille, enlarged fonts and much more.

Blind Square: This sounds really close to Foursquare and that is for good reason. It is essentially a GPS for the visually impaired. Blind Square will provide information about your surroundings and things that may be of interest such as a coffee shop or store of some kind.

Moms Rising: This group aims to make the US a more family oriented country. This is a collection of mothers who are working to impact legislation as well as promote fair treatment for mothers and women.

WeFarm: Sharing resources is critical to improvement and although the world is more connected than ever some may not have the Internet. WeFarm seeks to help farmers who may experience this problem by providing a way for farmers to share ideas and resources using SMS.

Enable Talk Gloves: These gloves are used to translate sign language into text and words. This is very beneficial as it can help ease communication with the hearing impaired.

Social start-ups are more popular than ever as we as a whole are trying to do more good. An easy way to support these entrepreneurs is to visit their website and buy their product, give a donation or just share some encouraging words. There are plenty of ways to do good, and supporting some of these companies is a great step.

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