Sector News, August 2018

A Hopeful Future:
Kids in Social Enterprise

The future of social impact is looking bright. Increasingly more kids and young teens are choosing to start social enterprises. In the past quarter, three young entrepreneurs under the age of 14, have received national recognition for their social impact initiatives. Chicago native Jahkil Jackson started his first organization to serve the homeless and displaced individuals at just 8 years old (Forbes). Project I Am raises funds for initiatives helping end homelessness and donates basic necessity kits he calls “Blessing Bags” to local shelters. Each Blessing Bag comes with toiletries, granola bars, bottled war, socks and more; to date, Jackson has distributed nearly 7,000 bags globally (Project I Am). Just a year older, both Gitanjali Rao and Mikaila Ulmer started their social enterprises at 11 years old. Rao, named America’s top youngest scientist, has developed a new device and app that allows citizens to personally test lead levels in water, accurately and efficiently.  Moved by the devastation of the Flint Water Crisis, Rao wanted to create a device that would prevent crises like that in the future (Global Citizen). Mikaila Ulmer, now 13, uses her business to promote bee conservation. Mikaila’s “Me & the Bees” lemonade started as a neighborhood stand, sharing her grandmother’s 1940’s recipe, and is now stocked at Whole Foods Market and supplying several local businesses. 10% of all profits from Me & the Bees fund bee conservation efforts across the country (BBC).


Social Impact, There’s An App For That

As the world becomes increasingly digital and data-driven, technology innovation is a continued active force in the social enterprise space. Similar to Uber’s ride-sharing technology, social entrepreneur Jehiel Oliver launched a digital app to connect under-resourced, sub-Saharan African farmers with tractor owners nearby. HelloTractor technology geographically tags and tracks machinery and adds them to the app, allowing farmers with low financial flexibility to rent available equipment. The social enterprise also employs booking agents to share tractor-renting opportunities with farmers who may not have technology connecting them to the HelloTractor app (Forbes). CoverUs, a new healthcare social enterprise, was developed to make healthcare “more affordable and efficient for ordinary people.” The app lets patients log health data into secure blockchain technology and earn financial benefits for their contributions. By answering health surveys and logging doctor’s visits, patients securely and privately earn a return while helping inform necessary healthcare innovations and studies. The goal is to disrupt an industry where 25% of Americans struggle to afford healthcare expenses, yet private institutions profit from their data (Crain’s New York Business). It’s clear not every individual in the world has access to utilize these technologies, however studies show two-thirds of the world’s population uses mobile smartphones, making apps a worthwhile tool for affecting social change. Redbull recently composed a list of 15 social enterprise apps making a difference around the world. See it here.

>> New York’s growing ‘tech for good’ community, Crain’s New York Business


Disrupting the Social Change Status Quo

A few months ago, a Deloitte report shared that 88% of millennials expect businesses to make a concerted effort to alleviate social problems (Deloitte). With the 2018 Edelman trust barometer at a historic low, Americans are more distrusting than ever before of the government’s ability to affect social change, and are looking toward businesses (CEO leaders especially) to speak out and take action on social issues (Edelman). Looking back over the year, the country is in a shift and society is increasingly looking toward social enterprise to disrupt the status quo. There are endless examples of social enterprises doing so — like ABLE, an apparel company that made the bold choice to publish its garment workers’ wages and encourage fair pay, and Known Supply which connects consumers with the individuals who make their clothes (Style Blueprint). Some in the sector are discussing another response to this new pattern of distrust toward national government: “new localism” fueled by social enterprise. Localism in social enterprise denotes allocating social change efforts toward solving the issues right in your community. It centers on connecting investors with local social entrepreneurs, using regional resources, supporting local businesses and in turn creating healthy, sustainable communities and economies (Best Self Magazine). Some entrepreneurs think the revitalization of localism can be an alternative to reliance on government and big business in this season of distrust and see its potential to help with economic inequality, racial tension and division (New York Times).