Better World Books
We had the pleasure to write about the frontrunner back in February. Better World Books is a for-profit online bookstore founded in 2002 by college students looking to support themselves upon graduation. Better World Books is a B Corporation, meaning it is responsible to not only shareholders but to stakeholders for creating social and environmental as well as economic value. The company gathers inventory through library and school book drives and shares its revenues with hand-selected literacy and education programs as well as libraries world-wide.
The nine-employee health-care management and consulting company constructs disease-management programs in addition to performing IT work, systems consulting, and program audits. One of its big social goals is to provide free medication to the uninsured through its primary nonprofit partner RXpartnership.org. Structured as a non-stock corporation, Impact Makers contributes all of its profits to charity.
Most of us have probably seen Stonyfield’s yogurts in the refrigerator section in at least one of the grocery stores we shop at. Started 26 years ago, its mission was to demonstrate that business could be both profitable and sustainable. Last year, the company generated more that $300 million in sales and controlled about 7% of the yogurt market. Despite the economy, Stonyfield founder, Gary Hirshberg, hopes to increase revenues by 15%, a testament that a sustainably-produced yogurt is a valuable commodity.
23-year old founder, Richard Ludlow turned down a job at McKinsey and deferred Harvard Business School to start Academic Earth, an organization that is offering free, world-class educational content online. Ludlow’s mission is to expand access to high quality education for free online and eventually make the for-profit operation sustainable through ad sales and affiliate marketing. The site, though currently isn’t profitable, now features lectures from Berkeley, Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Stanford, and Yale.
Clean Fish connects small-scale fish suppliers with distributors to get sustainable seafood to restaurant kitchens and supermarkets. Clean Fish is an effort to build a market for aquaculture and fishing that doesn’t damage the environment. The company currently has 24 artisan fish producers, called the CleanFish Alliance, and they have doubled their revenue each year for the past three years. This year they are expecting to reach $20 million.
Check out the Business Week article and a slide show on some of the other companies nominated here.
Photo Source: Business Week // Brian Smale
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Released at the beginning of the month, Business Week announced its list of most promising social entrepreneurs, voted on by its readers. The idea, according to the site, “was to track down trailblazing companies… that aimed to turn a profit while tackling societal problems.” Out of over 200 nominations, here are the top-5: