While the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the global markets, social enterprises—businesses that exist to achieve a social mission—carry on, generating pathways to financial independence for individuals and families. They create social impact through innovative products and services that not only meet market needs and desires but also provide jobs to people who face significant barriers to mainstream employment. Your support of their work, especially during this time, keeps vulnerable populations employed, helps them build essential skills, and advances the mission and financial stability of vital nonprofit organizations.
If you are looking for some unique, creative, and meaningful products to treat yourself or to send to someone you love during this time, look no further than this guide. Here is a collection of some of the most effective social enterprises that are using their business models to create opportunity, strengthen communities, and inspire change.
Thistle Farms – Nashville, Tennessee
Thistle Farms is a nonprofit social enterprise dedicated to helping women survivors recover and heal from prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. Many of these women are employed at Body & Home, Thistle Farms’ largest nonprofit social enterprise, creating natural bath and body products that are healing for both the customers who purchase them and the women who create them. Shop the featured items below:
Saw’s Edge Woodshop and SustainU by Coalfield Development – Wayne, West Virginia
Saw’s Edge Woodshop’s products are handmade in Appalachia as part of Coalfield Development’s commitment to workforce development and rebuilding the local economy in the wake of the coal industry’s rapid decline. SustainU is focused on changing the way clothes are made to improve the environment, reinvigorate America’s manufacturing sector, and educate the world about how clothing can positively impact people’s lives. Shop the featured items below:
Bonton Farms – Dallas, Texas
Bonton Farms operates a 40-acre farm just outside of Dallas, providing meaningful work for marginalized individuals and healthy fresh food for the community. Bonton Farms is creating a blueprint for community-driven change. Buy some honey or swag and support the mission. Shop the featured items below:
Women’s Bean Project – Denver, Colorado
Women’s Bean Project provides transitional employment in gourmet food manufacturing for chronically unemployed and impoverished women. These women earn a full-time wage, build crucial professional and life skills and set goals that will carry into their next chapter. Each product sold helps lift women and their families out of poverty, homelessness and incarceration. Shop the featured items below:
Madd Love Market by UTEC – Lowell, Massachusetts
Products made from salvaged New England hardwoods are handcrafted by ambitious young adults seeking to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success. Each piece includes the UTEC logo as a reminder of its special craftspeople – young adults who are overcoming incarceration, lack of education and other challenging circumstances through craftsmanship, passion and life change. Shop the featured items below:
Back on My Feet – Nationwide
Believing that confidence, strength, and self-esteem are key to life transformation, Back on My Feet combats homelessness through the power of running and the relationships formed between volunteers and individuals experiencing homelessness. Shop men’s and women’s apparel here.
Hot Bread Kitchen – East Harlem, New York
Hot Bread Kitchen creates economic opportunity in East Harlem through culinary job training and a small business incubator. They employ women from around the world, leveraging their talents and passions to launch careers in the food industry. Buy the cookbook here!
Mobile Loaves & Fishes Community Market – Austin, Texas
Mobile Loaves & Fishes operates a 51-acre master-planned community to restore dignity for the chronically homeless. Its micro-enterprises empower individuals to transform their lives by putting their passions to work. Browse the Community Art House gallery.
Old Skool Café – San Francisco, California
Old Skool Cafe is a jazz-themed supper club in San Francisco where at-risk youth run every aspect of the business. Through its intensive vocational training and supportive community, it seeks to break the cycle of poverty and incarceration. Shop the featured items below:
Out of the Blue Granola by Blue Monarch – Monteagle, Tennessee
Blue Monarch provides a residential Christian community where women learn to break destructive cycles and rebuild their families. Their Out of the Blue shop provides their residents employment, selling delicious, homemade, and healthy snacks. Shop the featured items below:
PeaceLove – Pawtucket, Rhode Island
PeaceLove believes creative expression inspires and heals. They work with individuals, families, and organizations throughout the country to improve mental health and better quality of life through art therapy. Shop the featured items below:
Project LIFT – Tampa, Florida
Through vocational skills training and mentoring, Project LIFT empowers at-risk teens to replace negative behaviors with positive tools. Their non-traditional approaches empower teens to make healthy life decisions and become productive members of their community. Browse the Project LIFT shop.
The Phoenix – Nationwide
The Phoenix is an addiction recovery program that leverages a sober-active lifestyle to build supportive communities and reduce the stigma of addiction in order to help people heal and overcome. Shop Phoenix sportswear here.
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