One of the hottest trends in the business world at present is the rise of social entrepreneurship. Simply put, social entrepreneurship revolves around forming companies or cooperatives that focus on improving society while turning a profit. Some notable examples of social entrepreneurship outfits include Tom’s Shoes, Warby Parker, Bio-Bean, BioLite and Solar Sister to name just a few. If you want to start a business that changes the world and makes decent money on the side, the following ideas are ideal.
An E-Cycling Waste Disposal Concern
Every year, Americans dispose of 9.4 million tons of e-waste in the form of cellphones, laptops and wireless routers. Only 13% of that e-waste is actually recycled at any point. You can keep dangerous heavy metals out of the landfill by starting an e-recycling depot in your area. Look at the potential local competition by canvassing businesses on E-cycling Central when performing market research. Donate some of your profits to an ecological charity to stand out.
A Water Quality Improvement Enterprise
Widespread access to clean drinking water over the past century has boosted the average lifespan of citizens in every country on the planet. Unfortunately, billions of people still don’t enjoy the benefits of adequate water purification. A social start-up that installs water filtration stations in poverty-stricken locales is a great way to make money and help people at the same time. You might also launch a business that performs water quality assessments and recommends affordable solutions to sub-standard water.
An Organic Produce Cooperative
Every year, more and more consumers are learning about the potential dangers of the produce and meat cranked out by industrial farms. That’s why Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is becoming so popular. A local CSA farm is sort of like an Indiegogo campaign. Supporters pay in advance for a specific cut of the crop and collect their produce as it becomes available. Perform some market research, find out what consumers in your area want the most and start planting.
A Roving Medical Checkup Outfit
While medical insurance reform has come a long way in recent years, many low-income citizens still lack access to basic medical care. People living in rural areas often have a hard time seeing physicians for even the most basic annual checkups. A start-up that specializes in creating temporary clinics in remote locales is an easy sell on sites like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Simply hire a few doctors on a per diem basis and bus them to under-served areas.
A Solar Panel Installation Business
In the fight against climate change, reducing carbon emissions is a top priority. Solar panels are a great way to cut back on fossil fuel use and save money on utility bills at the same time. A company that installs solar systems for home and business owners is easy to found. Off-the-grid systems in particular are incredibly easy to install even for inexperienced DIYers. You’ll need a master electrician to do the wiring and a few laborers for heavy lifting.
A Ride-Sharing Service
As great as apps like Uber and Lyft can be, they’re not exactly the most socially beneficial services on the market. Ride-sharing is still the way to go if you want to save money on transportation costs and reduce carbon emissions. Launching a ride-sharing business is easy since localized options are often lacking. All you need to do is create a forum-style site where local commuters can exchange information. Once your site has enough traffic, monetize it with ads and affiliate links.
A Cost-Cutting Educational Concern
There’s no denying that the cost of education has exploded over the past decade. College has never been more expensive and the public secondary schools are spending more per student than ever before. You can make some serious coin by helping parents and educators to cut back on costs. Setting up a website that acts as a virtual bazaar for used books and tablets is always an option. Try to find a specific niche to exploit for the purposes of standing apart from the crowd.
A Legal Assistance Enterprise
In recent years, start-ups like LegalZoom have helped millions of Americans save a ton of money on legal costs. While the legal paperwork game is pretty much locked down at this point, there are other niches that can be explored. For instance, you could create a start-up that helps community organizations hire competent attorneys at a price that they can afford. Lawyers looking to expand their practices like to take cases pro bono due to the positive PR.
A Grass-Roots Political Action Facilitator
When it comes to getting the word out about a particular cause, sites like Change.org are often the way to go. The problem with these petition sites is that they really only do one thing. If you want to actually effect change in your community, you need a service that helps activists and community members take action. A subscription-based forum site that’s focused on a specific city or region is an easy project for savvy side income entrepreneurs.
A Community-Based Micro-Lending Concern
Companies like Grameen Bank and Kiva have proven that capitalism and social justice are not mutually exclusive concepts. These micro-lending sites tend to focus on entrepreneurs in developing countries. You can take the same micro-lending model and fine-tune it for aspiring small business owners in your own neck of the woods. For instance, you could develop a site that allows members in your city, county or state to make short-term loans to each other in exchange for credits or vouchers.
A Recreational Outfit for Underprivileged Children
Every year, not-for-profit organizations like Fresh Air Fund give low-income children from cities the chance to live a different experience during the summer, making new friends and unlocking they potential. While Fresh Air Fund and similar agencies do a fine job, there’s plenty of room for improvement. Carve out a niche for yourself by focusing in on a specific sector of the market. For instance, your own city-to-country exchange could stand out by assigning kids to specific locations based on their academic or vocational interests.
Making Your Socially Conscious Start-Up Really Last
The key to successfully launching a business that impacts the world for the better is communicating your message to consumers effectively. This is important not only during the fund-raising phase but throughout the life of the business. Marketing is one of the most important skills that entrepreneurs must possess, after all. Keeping your mission statement in mind when making decisions will ensure that your business continues to turn a profit and improve the world over the long haul.