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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 January 21, 2020

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

How to Increase Work Productivity: 9 Ground Rules

We all have those days when completing our assigned tasks seems beyond reach. With the temptation of social media, mobile games, and the internet in general—not to mention the constant bustle of people in the office—it’s easy to fall prey to disruptions and distractions at work.

So, what can we do about it? How to be productive at work?

While we don’t have a foolproof system that can completely eliminate disturbances and diversions, we do have 9 ground rules that can be applied to help give your productivity levels a boost.

Keep reading to find out our tips on work productivity.

What Does It Mean to Be Productive?

How to be productive at work?” is the age-old question plaguing employees and employers alike around the world. Regardless of where you work and what you do, everyone is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and effective.

But what does being productive actually entail?

Completing more tasks on your list or working longer hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being more productive. It just means you’re more busy, and productivity shouldn’t be confused with busyness.

Productivity means achieving effective results in as short amount of time as possible, leaving you with more time to enjoy freely.

It involves working smarter, not harder. It means refining processes, speeding up workflows, and reducing the chances of interruptions.

Productivity is best achieved when looking at your current way of working, identifying the bottlenecks, flaws, and hindrances, and then finding ways to improve.

9 Ground Rules on How to Be Productive at Work

1. Avoid Multitasking

Multitasking can give the impression that more tasks can be accomplished as you’re doing multiple things at once. However, the opposite is true.

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Research has shown that attempting to do several things at the same time takes a toll on productivity and that shifting between tasks can cost up to 40 percent of someone’s time.[1] That’s because your focus and concentration is constantly hindered due to having to switch between tasks.

If you have a lot of tasks on your plate, determine your priorities and allocate enough time for each task. That way you can work on what’s urgent first and have enough time to complete the rest of your tasks.

2. Turn off Notifications

According to a Gallup poll, more than 50 percent of US smartphone owners admit to checking their phones a few times an hour.[2]

Switching off your phone—or at least your notifications—during work hours is a good way to prevent you from checking your phone all the time.

The same applies to your computer. If you have the privilege of accessing social media on your work desktop, switch off the notifications on there.

Another good tip is to logout from your social media accounts. Therefore when you feel the urge to check it, you might be swayed because your page isn’t so easily accessible.

3. Manage Interruptions

There are certain disruptions in the office that are unavoidable such as your manager requesting a quick meeting or your colleague asking for assistance. In order to deal with this, your best approach is to know how to handle interruptions like a pro.

Be proactive and inform the people around you of your need to focus. Turn your status on as “busy/unavailable” on your work chat app.

If you’re on a deadline, let your colleagues know that you need to concentrate and would really appreciate not being interrupted for the moment, or even work from home if that’s a feasible option for you.

By anticipating and having a plan in place to manage them, this will minimize your chances of being affected by interruptions.

4. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain once famously said that:

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“if it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”

What this basically means is that you should get your biggest, most urgent task out of the way first.

We all have that big, important task that we don’t want to do but know we have to do because it holds the biggest consequence if we don’t complete it.

Eat the frog is a productivity technique that encourages you to do your most important, most undesirable task first. Completing this particular task before anything else will give you a huge sense of accomplishment. It will set the ball rolling for the rest of the day and motivate you to eagerly complete your other tasks.

5. Cut Down on Meetings

Meetings can use up a lot of time, which is time that can be used to do something useful.

You have to wait for everyone to arrive, then after the pleasantries are out of the way, you can finally get stuck into it. And sometimes, it may take a whole hour to iron out one single issue.

The alternative? Don’t arrange a meeting at all. You’ll be surprised at how many things can be resolved through an email or a quick phone call.

But that doesn’t mean you should eliminate meetings altogether. There are certain circumstances where face-to-face discussions and negotiations are still necessary. Just make sure you weigh up the options prior.

If it’s just information sharing, you’re probably better off sending an email; but if brainstorming or in-depth discussion is required, then an in-person meeting would be best.

6. Utilize Tools

Having the right tools to work with is crucial as you’re only really as good as the resources you have at your disposal. Not only will you be able to complete tasks as efficiently as possible, but they can streamline processes. Said processes are essential to a business as they manage tasks, keep employees connected, and hold important data.

If you’re the manager or business owner, ensure your team has the right tools in place.

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And if you’re an employee and think the tools you currently have to work with aren’t quite up to par, let your manager know. A good team leader understands the significance of having the right tools and how it can impact employee productivity.

Some examples of tools that could be used:

Communication
  • Slack for team chat and collaboration.
  • Samepage for video conference software.
  • Zendesk for customer service engagement.
Task Management
  • Zenkit for task and project collaboration.
  • Wunderlist for listing your to-do’s.
  • Wekan for an open source option.
Database Management
Time Tracking
  • Clockify for a free tracker.
  • TMetric for workspace integrations.
  • TimeCamp for attendance and productivity monitoring.

You can also take a look at these Top 10 Productivity Tools to Help You Achieve 10x More in Less Time.

7. Declutter and Organize

Having a disorganized and cluttered workspace can limit your ability to focus. According to researchers, physical clutter can negatively impact your ability to concentrate and take in information.[3] Which is why keeping your work environment well ordered and clutter-free is important.

Ensure you have your own system of organization so you know what to do when the paperwork starts to pile up.

Being organized will also ensure that you know where to find the appropriate stationery, tools, or documents when you need it. A US study reveals that the average worker can waste up to one week a year looking for misplaced items.[4]

Here’s a useful guide to help you declutter and organize: How to Declutter Your Life and Reduce Stress (The Ultimate Guide)

8. Take Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity at work. Working in front of a computer can lead to a sedentary lifestyle which can place you at a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a 30 second microbreak can increase your productivity levels up to 30 percent.

As well as your physical health, breaks are also crucial for your mental and emotional wellbeing. That’s because your brain is like a muscle, the more it works without a break, the easier it is for it to get worn out.

Ensuring you actually take your breaks can prevent you from suffering from decision fatigue. It can also help boost creativity.

Take a look at this article and learn why you should start scheduling time for breaks: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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9. Drink Water

Although we know we should, it’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the working day.

Many of us turn to tea or coffee for the caffeine hit to keep us going. However, like taking breaks, drinking water is essential for maintaining productivity levels at work. It’s simple and effective.

Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration and also headaches, tiredness, and weight gain.

A good tip to avoid dehydration is to keep a water bottle at your desk as it can serve as a reminder to constantly drink water.

If you find the taste of water a little bland, add some fruit such as cucumber or lemon to give it a better taste.

You can also get more ideas on how to drink more water here: How to Drink More Water (and Why You Should)

The Bottom Line

The preceding 9 ground rules on work productivity aren’t the be-all, end-all. You and the company you work for may have other tips on how productivity is best increased and maintained.

After all, it’s something that can be perceived differently depending on the exact job and work environment.

In saying that, however, the 9 ground rules serve as a good foundation for anyone finding themselves succumbing to disruption and distraction, and are looking for ways to overcome them.

A good tip to keep in mind is that change doesn’t happen overnight. Start small and be consistent. If you slip up, just dust yourself off and try again.

Developing habits happens gradually, so as long as you keep up with it, you’ll soon start to notice the changes you’ve been making and eventually enjoy the fruits of your labor.

More About Boosting Productivity

Featured photo credit: Cathryn Lavery via unsplash.com

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