15 Startup Ideas for Social Entrepreneurs

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If you’re someone who wants to make a difference in your community and the world, you might just be the ideal social entrepreneur. Social entrepreneurs are business owners that develop a startup with the goal to make a social or environmental impact.

Whether it’s building a tool or providing a service for existing charities — social entrepreneurs are a much-needed part of the modern American fabric. Learn more about how to start a social startup by reading our top 15 startup ideas for social entrepreneurs.

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Social Entrepreneurship Startup Ideas

1. Crowdfunding Platform

Crowdfunding platforms are a useful tool for entrepreneurs, charitable causes, and individuals to raise money and reach their financial goals. To create a successful crowdfunding platform that is able to compete with other trusted platforms, you’ll need to create a unique idea or function that sets your platform apart. This could be a network of investors, advertisement opportunities, or specified crowdfunding topics such as real estate.

2. Reusable Grocery Bags

Sustainability is at the forefront of many people’s minds these days, and with more and more people looking for alternatives to wasteful plastic grocery bags, there is a good-sized market for a reusable grocery bag business.

A couple of ways to make this startup idea your own are to create more functional bags (e.g., thermal capabilities, pockets, waterproof material, etc.) or design your bags to target a specific audience by identifying trends.

Recommended: Check out our full list of Startup Ideas for Green Entrepreneurs.

3. Clean Energy

It’s no secret that clean energy is growing in both popularity and necessity. A clean energy startup can be either a product or service that takes a green approach to produce energy such as electricity-generating bicycles or solar paneling. Developing concepts and executing your business idea will require either knowledge of clean energy or the support of someone who has this knowledge.

4. Microlending Business

A microlending business loans small amounts of money to people who cannot qualify for loans through other institutions. Normally, this startup charges a fairly high interest rate to its customers to mitigate risk if the borrower defaults on their loan. In underserved areas, microlending businesses can help provide communities with opportunities to introduce much-needed resources to their local communities.

5. Ethical Online Marketplace

With more people at home than ever, the convenience of shopping online has grown in popularity. However, this doesn’t mean that the marketplaces available are providing products that are ethically sourced, made, or sold. That’s where you come in! An online ethical marketplace provides a platform for ethically made goods to be found and purchased by interested consumers.

6. Fair Trade Subscription Box

There are subscription boxes for everything these days. To lower costs, however, many businesses opt to sell products that the makers aren’t adequately compensated for. A fair trade subscription box startup provides the ease and excitement of a subscription box while introducing consumers to fairly traded, handcrafted products that they can feel good about purchasing.

7. EdTech Startup

With more schools adjusting to online teaching, an EdTech startup could give students an easier route to education. Whether it is for K-12 education or college-level students, the time to develop technology to enhance online learning is now.

Make this startup unique and socially responsible by doing your research on the problems schools face today with their eLearning software or equipment, and work to develop a product that smoothes the creases in online teaching.

Learn more about starting an edtech startup from the founders of Trashbots!

Also Recommended: Check out our full list of Startup Ideas for Education Entrepreneurs.

8. Community Garden

Community gardens are in high demand from city folks who want to put their green thumb to use. All you need is a plot of land and raised garden beds (depending on the quality of the soil) as well as some marketing strategies. Make your community garden stand out by offering gardening equipment, seeds, and other supplies your customers might need.

9. Eco-Friendly Bed-and-Breakfast

sustainable bed and breakfast is a great idea for entrepreneurs with hospitality experience and rooms to spare. Making this classic business idea eco-friendly is as easy as changing your power source to something more sustainable, sourcing organic or locally grown ingredients, and furnishing your guests’ rooms with sustainable furniture.

Recommended: Check out our full list of Startup Ideas for Food Lovers.

10. Pet Shelter

Pet shelters, or animal rescues, provide a much-needed service — taking in abused or stray pets to find happier homes for them as well as keeping healthy animals from being euthanized. If you’re an animal lover, a pet shelter is an admirable startup idea to make a social impact on your city or community.

Recommended: Check out our full list of Startup Ideas for Animal Lovers.

11. Bookmobile

Bring the gift of reading to communities that don’t have the same access with a bookmobile. This startup idea can be easily made possible by soliciting donations of used books that you can deliver to underprivileged communities. For children especially, a bookmobile startup could provide the education and entertainment they deserve in an easy, accessible way.

12. Water Purification

Unfortunately, there are plenty of places in the US and across the globe that don't have access to safe, healthy drinking water. Your startup could be the answer to providing people with usable water. Whether you develop a portable water purification tool or an entire system for homes and businesses, this startup idea has the potential for high profits as well as a strong social impact.

13. Online Courses

You probably know the saying that knowledge is power, so it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have access to a good education. Sharing knowledge through online courses makes education more accessible and provides a service for people interested in learning the skills you have to teach them.

To make this a socially-focused startup idea, gear your online courses towards teaching valuable skills that can help students find employment or enhance their quality of life.

14. Sustainable Clothing Line

Fashion is one of the most wasteful industries on the planet. If you’re thinking about starting a clothing line, consider making it a sustainable one! A sustainable clothing line can make an impact by creating thoughtful garments that are long-lasting and ethically made out of sustainable materials such as linen or hemp.

15. Charity App

Make philanthropy more accessible by creating a charity app. This could be an easy space to crowdfund for charities, make donations, or fulfill a need in your community. Since most adults have smartphones, a charity app startup can provide an easier way for charities to gain the funding and support they need in order to help the people who need it most.

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