Women leading the way in social enterprise

Nearly half of the UK's social enterprises are run by women – and some of them sell great products via The Big Issue Shop

Who runs the world? Girls. Or so says pop queen Beyoncé. But there is some truth behind her catchy lyric and unmistakable voice. In amongst tech giant Cher Wang, publishing star Arianna Huffington, and of course, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg sits an underrepresented clan of formidable women – social entrepreneurs.

Social enterprises aim to change the world through business, and with 41% of the UK’s social enterprises led by women, the reach of global sisterhood only continues to grow.

Social enterprises aim to change the world through business

From Babies with Love puts every penny of profit from its unique, ethically sourced children’s products to help orphaned children around the world. The company’s vision: that every child has a fair start in life, no matter where they are born.

The stunning, design-led blankets, toys and clothes (babygrow pictured below) allow the charity to support children in SOS Children’s Villages across the world, from Indonesia to El Salvador. Plus, they’re all cute as a button.

From Babies With Love babygrow

Soft toys

If they weren’t already cute enough in their organic cotton duck blanket, Pebble Toys can help babies marvel at the adorable designs and quirky expressions of their handmade toys. Working out of rural Bangladesh, the handmade crocheted soft toys are made by a fair-trade cooperative, Hathay Bunano – meaning handmade in Bangla.

The business works in partnership with the cooperative and local charities in the country to teach women in remote areas how to knit, empowering Bangladeshi women (below) with regular, flexible and sustainable employment, giving them and their children a chance at a better life.

Pebble Toys women in Bangladesh

It’s not just toys for tots that women in social enterprise support. Taylor + Rani aim to support teenagers across the globe, through another means of support – bras.

The founder Isobel, shared her dreams of beautiful, comfortable underwear for girls all over the globe. For every pair of knickers purchased, Taylor + Rani send a pair to a girl in need. For every bra purchased, a monetary donation goes towards the provision of sanitary products for girls in countries like Zimbabwe, Malawi and Sierra Leone.

Secret Projects make pillows and other products that are charming, useful and purposeful. They are made in India by women facing social and economic challenges, and the money they earn through making Secret Pillows and Secret Saris affords them an opportunity to better support themselves.

But Secret Projects founder, Fritha, wants more women to get involved in making a difference. Through sharing her story, Fritha inspires other social entrepreneurs, particularly young women, to find their social passion.

The money they earn affords them an opportunity to better support themselves

Within the social enterprise movement there’s always been a sense of community, with owners helping each other to make their business the best it can be, allowing each other to help as many people as possible.

Amongst the women in social enterprise, this connection is even stronger, with women like Fritha not only harnessing their own creative skills to help other women, but in doing so, ensuring that women across the community are supported in the amazing work that they do.

Main image: The Wonderbag factory in South Africa

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