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10 Innovative Social Enterprises that are Improving the World

10 Innovative Social Enterprises that are Improving the World

Some of the most innovative thinkers in the world are putting their skills to use, bringing improvements to people and places that desperately need it.

So what exactly is a social enterprise? It’s simply an endeavor that aims to improve the world and solve a complex problem. Whether it be a nonprofit, business, or other entity, social enterprises use creative ideas to change lives and better the environment. The following are 10 innovative social enterprises that will inspire you to do good.

1. Groundswell

Groundswell is an enterprise that encourages consumers to use their power for good. They address the rising cost of necessary expenses, like energy, and the falling costs of luxury items, like iPods. Through what Groundswellers call “Civic Consumption,” consumers can use their money to support responsible businesses, save money, and promote local wealth. They do this by bringing people and organizations together for purchases, making things like renewable energy cheaper and accessible to more families. Help the environment and help yourself? Win-win.

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2. Compreneurship

Compreneurship unites students and disadvantaged people to develop and execute entrepreneurial projects. In a recent project, students studying design, journalism, and business joined up with local homeless people to create and distribute an original newspaper. Disadvantaged street vendors who distributed the papers earned a whopping 150,000 euros. Basically, Compreneurship puts student projects to valuable, real-life use.

3. Arsenic Absorbent

Professor and Fulbright-Nehru scholar Arup SenGupta is researching his way to a solution for clean, safe drinking water around the world. if you don’t think arsenic poisoning is a serious problem anymore, consider the 140 million people who’ve been affected by it. From India to the US, eight countries have experienced reduced rates of arsenic poisoning since SenGupta developed the first reusable arsenic absorbent.

4. Biolite

Biolite is a start-up that uses thermoelectric technology to make wood-burning stoves clean and safe. Amazingly, the mini stoves also charge cell phones and LED lights. Biolite has worked to create efficient energy with clients like Johnson & Johnson, Hewlett Packard, and Nike. These compact, affordable stoves make cooking easier- not only for frequent campers, but for families in 3rd world countries as well.

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5. TCK Learning Centre

The TCK Learning Centre offers low-cost education to low-income migrant workers in Hong Kong. The Centre offers English, technology, and reading courses for young maids and others migrant workers that have a desire to learn and improve their career opportunities. They also offer a variety of workshops on topics like music, bookkeeping, and video editing to students who would not otherwise be able to afford it.

6. Voidstarter

Voidstarter is an enterprise that converts vacant housing units in Dublin into short-term learning centers and entrepreneur labs. Instead of going to waste as usual, these unoccupied units are used to provide shelter for the homeless, give new entrepreneurs a place to get started, and teach unemployed people new skills. Voidstarter is essentially utilizing wasted space to help those in need generate wealth and gain independence.

7. The Jamble

The Jamble connects collaborators who want to participate in projects or make their ideas a reality. This much-needed online community is perfect for those with start-up ideas who need collaborators with various sets of expertise beyond their own. The Jamble allows users to search for projects or collaborators, enabling brilliant ideas to take shape in the real world.

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8. Swipes for the Homeless

Swipes for the Homeless is an organization founded by college students who wanted to give back to their community. Now, Swipes has grown to include multiple US colleges including Berkley, UCLA, and Northwestern University. Students have the opportunity to donate their leftover meal plan points to local homeless people. Since its inception, Swipes has donated 330,000 pounds of food.

9. Task Squad

Task Squad has created a novel incentive to volunteer: money. Volunteers ages 18-25 can sign onto Task Squad and search for temporary work from organizations and start-ups who post job assignments. Not only does the service reward and encourage volunteering, it provides quality work experience and resume builders for young people who need it.

10. Terracycle

Terracycle is a company that is changing the future of recycling, making it easier to recycle difficult items like chip bags, toothbrushes, and drink pouches. They use Brigades, or collection programs, to collect different kinds of waste. Customers can ship waste directly to the company and gain credits, which can be redeemed for cash or directed towards the nonprofit of their choice.

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Do any of these innovative social enterprise ideas get your brain churning? Head over to the EntrepreneursToolkit and find out how you can start your own enterprise and become part of a global solution.

Featured photo credit: the recruiter’s lounge via therecruiterslounge.com

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Last Updated on December 10, 2019

7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

7 Strategies to Keep Employee Motivation High

Highly motivated employees are essential to the success of any business. Most people spend a third of their lives at work.[1] That’s a significant amount of time away from home, apart from the people who make us happy and the things we love to do. So keeping employee motivation high is essential for creating an office environment that gets the best out of our people.

But do you know what motivates your people?

It’s simple:

  • Is their work stimulating?
  • Does it challenge them?
  • Is there room to grow, a promotion perhaps?
  • Do you encourage creativity?
  • Can they speak openly and honestly with you?
  • Do you praise them?
  • Do you trust your staff to take ownership of their work?
  • Do they feel safe in their work environment?
  • And more importantly, do you pay them properly?

Every one of these factors contributes to the general happiness of your employees. It’s what motivates them to come into the office each day and work hard, hit goals, and get results.

In contrast, an unmotivated employee is typically unhappy. They take more sick days, they’re not invested in seeing your business succeed, and they’re always on the lookout for something better.

Stats show that 81 percent of employees would consider leaving their jobs today if the right opportunity presented itself.[2] So it’s up to you to set aside time and energy to create a work environment that benefits every one of your employees.

These seven strategies will help you motivate your people to consistently deliver quality work and, more importantly, to stick around for the long term.

1. Be Someone They Can Rely On

You rely on your people to turn up to work each day, to come to you when they have a problem they can’t solve, to be honest, and to always engage professionally with customers.

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But this is not a one-way street. You, too, need to be someone your team can rely on. They trust you to have their backs when a client is unreasonable, to know that the decisions they make are in your best interest, and to make good on your promises.

If you say you’ll attend an important meeting, be there. If your company makes a profit and you’ve said you’ll pay a bonus, pay it. The goodwill of your people is something you never want to test, let alone lose.

Be reliable; it’s astounding how much this motivates your people.

2. Create an Awesome Company Culture

There’s no denying that company culture trickles down from the top. Your leadership and attitude massively influences the attitudes, work ethic, and happiness of your staff. If you’re always stressed-out, overly demanding, and unreasonable, it’ll create tension in your office which will adversely affect your employees’ motivation levels.

In fact, the HAYS “US What People Want Survey” found that 47 percent of staff who are actively looking for a new job, pinpoint company culture as the driving force behind their reason to leave.

So if you have high staff turnover, you need to determine whether your company culture might be the motivating factor behind your churn rate.

Here are four ways to build a culture that keeps your employees highly motivated.

  • Be conscious of the image you present. Your body language and attitude can positively or negatively impact your employees. So come to work energized. Be optimistic, friendly, and engaging—this enthusiasm will spill over to your people and motivate them to be more productive and efficient.
  • Appreciate your people and be reasonable. Celebrate your team’s achievements. If they’re doing a good job, tell them. Encourage them to challenge themselves and try new things. And reward when deserved. If they’re struggling, help them. Work together to find solutions and be a sounding board for their ideas.
  • Be flexible. Give your people opportunities to work remotely—this is highly motivating to staff, particularly millennials. They don’t want to be battling traffic each day on their way to work. They don’t want to miss their kids’ baseball games or ballet rehearsals. Stats show that companies that offer flextime and the ability to work from home or a coffee shop have happier and more productive employees.
  • Create employee-friendly work environments. These are spaces that inspire and ignite the imagination. Have you ever been to Google’s offices? No headquarter is the same. From indoor slides and food trucks, to hammocks, and funky work pods on the wall, gaming rooms, and tranquil interior gardens, there’s something for everyone. It’s a space where people want to be, catering to their need for creativity, quiet, or team building; you name it.

So take a look at your company culture and ask yourself, Is my business an attractive workplace for talented professionals? Does it inspire commitment and motivate my people? What could I do to improve my company culture?

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3. Touch Base with Your Team Weekly

Make time for your people, whether you run a remote business or work in an office, set aside time each week to talk to your people one-on-one. It’s non-negotiable.

When there’s an open line of communication between staff members, work gets done. Don’t believe me? A study by Gallup found that 26 percent of employees said feedback from their leaders helps them to do a better job.[3]

Your people want to feel trusted. They want to take ownership of their work, but they also need to know that when they have a question, they can reach out and get answers. If you’re unwilling to make yourself available, your team will quickly become unmotivated, work will stagnate, and your business will stop growing.

So block off time on your calendar each week to touch base with your people, even if only to let them know that what they’re working on matters.

4. Give Them the Tools They Need to Do Their Jobs Well

Imagine trying to run your business without electricity. How would you contact your clients? What would happen when your phone or computer battery died?

Technology is super critical to the success of your businesses. It allows you to work more efficiently, to be more productive, and to handle matters on-the-go. That’s why you need to give your people tools that will make their jobs easier.

Make sure their equipment is in good working condition. There’s nothing more frustrating than a laptop that takes ages to boot up. It’s got to go. Replace outdated software with new software. Don’t make your designer work in Coreldraw; give them access to the most up-to-date version of Adobe Creative Suite. Take it a step further and buy them a subscription to Shutterstock or Getty Images.

Make working for you a pleasure, not a pain; and watch your employees’ motivation levels rise.

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5. Provide Opportunities to Learn and Upskill

Would you believe me if I told you that 33 percent of people cite boredom and a need for new challenges as the top reason for leaving their job?[4] If you want to retain your talent, you need to upskill.

Thanks to technology, we live in a rapidly evolving world that demands we change with it. A copywriter is no longer just a writer; they now need to be experts in SEO, Google Adwords, CRMs, and so much more.

A pastry chef needs to be a food stylist, photographer, and social media manager. An entrepreneur needs to be a marketer—or at least take ownership of the marketing message for their business—if they hope to scale.

Technology makes all of this possible. No matter your location, your people can continuously expand their knowledge and gain new skill sets—something that’s highly motivating to employees. They want to know that there are opportunities to grow and develop themselves.

If you won’t invest in your people, then your business becomes just another job to tide them over until they find where they truly belong. So be the company that sees value in developing its people.

6. Monitor Their Workload

Overworked employees tend to be unproductive and unhappy. Your people cannot be at full capacity every day, month to month. Something’s got to give. They’ll become deflated and their work will eventually suffer, which will negatively impact your business.

What I like to do is implement a traffic light system. It helps me to keep a finger on the pulse of my business. So there’s red, yellow, and green:

  • Red means they’re fully loaded.
  • Yellow means they’re busy, but they can potentially take on more.
  • Green means they haven’t got enough to do.

I use this traffic light system because I don’t want my team members to be stressed out of their brains all the time. If they are, they won’t make good decisions and they won’t do good work.

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If my people are regularly overloaded, I have things to think about. Perhaps I need to hire a new person to help ease the load or take a closer look at what projects are good to go, and which can take a back seat.

And this is why #3 is essential. If I’m regularly engaging with my people, I’ll know that while they’re coping with their workload, it is impacting their performance and health, and I’ll take action.

7. Don’t Mess Around with Your Employees’ Pay

Never mess around with your people’s salary. As a business owner or high-level manager, it’s easy to forget that most people live from paycheck to paycheck. Delayed compensation can mean a missed bill payment, which could result in costly penalties they can’t afford or hits to their credit score.

So it’s your job to ensure that you pay your people on time.

The Bottom Line

A motivated team is an asset to any business. These people never give up. They get excited about coming to work each day and can’t wait to test a new theory or tackle a particularly tricky challenge. They’re proud of the work they do. And more importantly, they have no reason to leave.

Wouldn’t you rather be part of their success story than the business that drove them away?

More to Motivate Your Team

Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

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