Social enterprises are leading the way in providing businesses that give a little something back – whether it be investing profits, ensuring that producers get a fair packet for their work or providing the resources that impoverished communities need to flourish.
But what about the blokes behind the businesses? What about the male entrepreneurs who decided that there is a better, innovative way to put people before profits?
Reddendi’s co-founder Stefan Humphries is one such man. Stemming from a trip to India with London Business School colleague and fellow founder Neeraj Dalmia, the pair launched Reddendi to help underprivileged children in Africa, India, Peru or Syria.
The hunger to learn and gratitude of the children who, through our charity partners, we have been able to help is extremely humbling
For every sale of one of the firm’s fashionable neckties, which are available in The Big Issue Shop, the socially-conscious firm will educate a child in one of these regions for one whole year.
Mr Humphries said: “The Reddendi brand revolves around giving back to education. Reddendi is actually from the Latin to give back. For us the one real way to drive sustainable change is through education.
“It provides underprivileged children with the tools to escape the desperate situation that they were born into. The hunger to learn and gratitude of the children who, through our charity partners, we have been able to help is extremely humbling.”
Another leading light in social business is Charlie Wright. He started clothing firm Hopeful Traders at the end of 2015 as a response to the ever-present issue of homelessness in the city where he lived and worked, London.
The twist? All of the firm’s organic and ethically-manufactured t-shirts and sweatshirts have been designed by artists who have been affected by social issues like homelessness – with all proceeds from the sale of the clobber heading to homeless charities.
Mr Wright said: “The way we work is that we find artists with a story to tell, and a message about a social issue such as homelessness or mental health.
“We collaborate on designs for the clothing and the sales contribute a percentage directly to the artist, and also to a charity that they have chosen to support.”
Josh Turner’s Stand4 Socks also kicked off in 2015 with the bold question of, ‘What if socks could change the world?’.
Fast forward two years and the social enterprise’s footprint can be felt across 12 global causes in nine different countries. And you can wear the cause that you are helping as a badge of pride – every colourfully patterned sock features the logo of the cause you are supporting.
In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.
Back on the learning curve, James Munro Boon’s idea for Elephant Branded is a simple one: you buy one ethically made, recycled bag or related product and they give one ergonomically designed school bag or school kit to a child in Cambodia.
And it is not just the kids who reap the benefits in the Asian country – the local villagers who make the bags out of locally sourced, recycled materials, get the chance to lift themselves out of poverty by learning valuable skills.
The social entrepreneur said: “By supporting local ladies through the making of each bag and their children by providing school equipment, we hope to break the cycle and provide real long-term change for each family.”
GiveMeTap came out of muscle-bound founder Edwin Broni-Mensah’s ambition to get a six-pack, bizarrely enough. After looking for free sources of water to counter his growing thirst, the entrepreneur remembered his dad’s stories of growing up in Ghana with little or no access to clean water and an idea was born.
Now the social enterprise sells stainless steel reusable water bottles where each bottle funds five years of clean water for someone across Africa while also offering free water refills from a network of shops.
Colcha Clothing’s eye-catching shorts fund an interest in communities that is more than just skin deep. The social enterprise aims to leave a trail of good wherever they go, whether it be locating manufacturing where they find fabric, training skilled workers or tackling social, economic and environmental issues that affect the region.
Scott Jarrett, Colcha Clothing founder, said: “All of our products are driven through an innovative business model, which is refreshingly simple. Wherever we find the fabric, we locate manufacturing. If there are too few workers then more are trained.
“If there are other social, economic and environmental issues negatively impacting the region, we work with experts on the ground to combat them.”