A social entrepreneur is a person who identifies a pressing social problem and finds an innovative solution to solve it while having a positive impact on the world at large.
Here are 3 social entrepreneurs changing the world for the better:
1. Dirk Müller-Remus – Changing the lives of autistic adults
There are around 7 million people with autism in the EU and 76% – 90% of adults with autism are unemployed according to the latest reports.
Although autism affects a person’s ability to interact with the people around them, autistic persons display innate abilities and skills: attention to detail, enjoying repetitive tasks, lack of tolerance for errors, persistence and loyalty.
Businesses could employ persons with autism to work on tasks such as software testing, programming and data-entry. Unfortunately, such opportunities for high-quality work have gone to waste due to autistic people’s high rate of unemployment.
Dirk Muller-Remus set out to change that. In November 2011 he founded Auticon, the first enterprise that exclusively employs adults on the autism spectrum as IT consultants.
Inspiration for the company came when Mr Müller-Remus’ son was diagnosed with Asperger’s. Mr Müller-Remus was dismayed by the lack of employment prospects on offer for autistic people and decided to build a company which created long term sustainable jobs for adults on the autism spectrum.
Auticon is based on the traditional IT consultancy model: highly talented experts are employed by the company on a permanent basis. Each individual’s skill set is matched to a specific client assignment. Auticon’s consultants and clients are offered the support of in-house job coaches who ensure that the consultants’ work environments enable them to deliver to their full potential.
Learn more: Make Your Workplace More Accessible To Employees With Autism
2. Briac Barthes – Bringing clean and affordable energy to people in Africa
Co-founder and CEO at hiLyte, a Swiss-based startup, Briac Barthes and his team bring clean and affordable energy to people in Africa through their innovative solution – the Iron Battery.
The Iron Battery provides cheap clean energy for people who still use kerosene for lighting. The hiLyte battery produces enough power to charge a phone and give light to a room for one night. All the consumables are non-toxic and easy to find everywhere on Earth: iron, paper and iron salt.
Iron is the most abundant electrochemical material, paper is fully biodegradable, and iron salt is already used as fertilizer in a lot of places.
All of this makes it possible for the users to dispose of the used solution in the ground without harming the environment.
To date, the Iron Battery saved 44 kgs of carbon emissions and impacted 50 people.
Learn more: Briac Barthes – Driving Change Through Social Entrepreneurship
3. Asha Patel – Helping individuals with their emotional and mental health
According to the World Health Organization, mental disorders affect 1 in 4 people.
Experts estimate around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide (source).
A vast majority of them find themselves unable to live with their mental health problems.
Working in mental health services, Dr Asha Patel experienced this situation first-hand which prompted her to found her company, Innovating Minds.
Innovating Minds is a social enterprise that cares about helping individuals with their emotional and mental health throughout education, training and employment.
She created a model that lets children and adults access expert help more quickly. The community interest company has grown rapidly and the team are working nationally and with international partners. The team include clinical psychologists who deliver specialist accessible psychological support within education and the community.
Company’s mission is to equip individuals with skills to live with their mental health problems enabling them to engage in education, training and employment.
Learn more: Along the Road to Great Mental Health: Debunking the Myths & Stigma
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