When Innovation Meets Social Good, Consumers Win

At this time of year, when our attention turns to giving back and products that allow us to do so, we offer a look at social enterprises that are taking innovative approaches to problem-solving and making our world a better place.



I was recently invited to participate in the inaugural The Intersection Event: Where Innovation Meets Social Change this coming January at Pixar’s headquarters, where a cast of leading business innovators and social change agents will discuss ways in which they can work together to positively affect their businesses and the world around them.

The invite got me thinking about some of my favorite social enterprises, particularly at this time of year when our attention turns to giving back and products that allow us to do so. I have compiled a collection of some of my favorite social enterprises for you here, and look forward to hearing about yours through the comment section below:

  1. FEED Projects: FEED Projects employs the sale of reusable bags to fight hunger and eliminate malnutrition throughout the world. To date, FEED has been able to raise enough money through the sale of products to provide over 60 million school meals to children around the world through the United Nations World Food Program.
  2. NourishingUSA: NourishingUSA distributes free NourishingUSA Hunger Kits to anyone who requests them through their website. Once received, volunteers are requested to grow the contents in their home gardens and give the produce to those in need, allowing anyone to join in the fight against the growing problems of poverty and obesity.  
  3. Global Cycle Solutions: Leveraging a worldwide market of over 1 billion bicycles as a driver of innovation and affordable energy, Global Cycle Solutions hopes to enable micro-entrepreneurs to bring the service of pedal-powered devices to their communities to meet an extensive range of needs from agricultural food processing to home appliances to battery charging.
  4. The Paradigm Project: The Paradigm Project is a social enterprise working to create sustainable social, economic and environmental value within developing world communities. Their current project is a clean-fuel cookstove project in Kenya, which they are currently in the process of expanding into South America and East Africa. 
  5. Treasure & Bond: The New York City-based concept store from Nordstrom, Treasure & Bond has developed a retail model where 100% of all their after-cost profits go directly to programs that benefit people in need, right here in our own community. 
  6. Made for Good: Made for Good is a consortium of like-minded brands assembled into one global community, sharing common goals, purpose, and passion. Each Made for Good brand aligns with a nonprofit partner to raise money through the sale of its products. 
  7. Mission Measurement: Mission Measurement is a social-impact consulting firm that works with leading corporations, nonprofits and government agencies to measure and improve the results of their social initiatives.
  8. AlterNetRides: AlterNetRides is a website that encourages all forms of alternative transportation: carpooling, vanpooling, biking, walking, and public transportation.
  9. Source 44: Source 44 discovers the origins of their clients’ products and transforms these findings into innovative supply-chain savings. They also partner with clients to help prioritize their energy, water, carbon, and waste-reduction initiatives, helping to ensure they meet sustainability targets while eliminating unnecessary costs and identifying new revenue-generating opportunities.
  10. Plant With Purpose: By reversing deforestation, Plant With Purpose helps the poor restore productivity to their land to create economic opportunity out of environmental restoration.
  11. The Honest Kitchen: The Honest Kitchen makes dehydrated, human-grade all natural whole foods for dogs and cats. Their recipes are made in a human food facility (not in a pet food plant) for the highest quality standards. They adamantly protest puppy mills and give back to a range of animal-focused charities through their Pawlanthropy program.
  12. World Vision: World Vision is a humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. One of their most interesting innovations is their annual holiday gift guide, which allows consumers to purchase anything from a well to a goat for families in need around the world on behalf of recipients, who are notified with a holiday card.
  13. is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization committed to providing safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries. They believe people in developing countries know best how to solve their own problems, so they forge partnerships with carefully screened partner organizations in the target countries that understand, and are part of, the local culture. The result is a solution tailored to the needs of each community, instead of a technological fix the community has no way of maintaining.
  14. Natural High: Natural High is a drug-abuse prevention organization aimed at helping people find their natural high and reject drugs. They accomplish their mission through the highly acclaimed Natural High® DVD Series and various educational outreaches. The Natural High® message has an in-your-face approach, as told through the words, deeds, personal actions, and right choices made by athletes, artists, and youth role models.

What causes are you supporting, and which organizations do you think are doing the most innovative work?

Shawn Parr is the The Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy headquartered in San Diego whose clients and partners have included Starbucks, Diageo, Jack in the Box, Adidas, MTV, Nestle, Pinkberry, American Eagle Outfitters, IDEO, Virgin, Disney, Nike, Mattel, Heineken, Annie’s Homegrown, The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, CleanWell, The Honest Kitchen and World Vision.



[Image: Flickr user Jason Pratt]

About the author

Shawn Parr is the Guvner & CEO of Bulldog Drummond, an innovation and design consultancy headquartered in San Diego whose clients and partners have included Starbucks, Diageo, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, Adidas, MTV, Nestle, Pinkberry, American Eagle Outfitters, Ideo, Sony, Virgin, Disney, Nike, Mattel, Heineken, Annie’s Homegrown, Kashi, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, The Honest Kitchen, and World Vision