Black History Month is a time to celebrate the incredible achievements of African Americans in the U.S. In our first February post, we talked about how important it is to consider these achievements in entrepreneurship.
Today we want to highlight a few black-owned social enterprises we think are doing really amazing things in this space – all year around!
Spotlight on Social Enterprises
Unchartered Power’s mission is the “democratization of energy,” through the technology of what they call M.O.R.E. – or motion-based, off-grid, renewable energy. The company has its roots in an invention of its Founder and CEO Jessica O. Matthews – the SOCCKET, a soccer ball that generates energy through the motion of play.
As Matthews told the Business Insider, she was inspired to provide clean, renewable energy to those in need after the power went out at an aunt’s wedding in Nigeria. Not only was the lack of stable energy supply a concern, but she was also disturbed by the fumes from the diesel generators and the lack of clean alternatives.
Uncharted Power now connects with a variety of partners to install MORE solutions in a number of places – whether it be strollers, clothes, floor panels, furniture, speed bumps, and so on. In this, Uncharted Power says it is dedicated to 360 Sustainability, “ensuring that every aspect of the product offering is sustainable.”
And the enterprise continues its commitment to social impact as well, through its “Uplift 1M” educational program. Uplift 1M engages a creative STEM curriculum that empowers students to invent, engineer and manufacture their own solutions, with the goal of developing 1 million inventors!
Startup52 is an early-stage accelerator founded by Chike Ukaegbu. It is the first sole diversity-focused accelerator made in hopes of identifying and grooming outstanding entrepreneurs, especially those from untapped and under-tapped communities, which they define as “people of color, women, entrepreneurs who are veterans, seniors, identify as LGBTQ, with disability, new immigrants and more.”
Their mission is to increase diversity in startup and tech through a supportive, innovative program that includes mentorship, access to working space and services including PR & Communications, Business Model Development and Strategy, Marketing and Sales, Product Development and Project Management, and so on.
At the end of the program, all participants pitch their startups to invited guests and investors. As Ukaegbu states, Startup52 looks to “solve some of the world’s pressing needs by turning viable ideas and solutions into profitable social, environmental or technological enterprises.”
Red Rabbit is a social enterprise based in Harlem, founded by Rhys Powell in 2005. It originally sold delicious, nutritious meals to private schools. But after spending time in the public school system, Powell made a big change in his business model – to one driven by meeting kids’ needs and making a social impact.
Red Rabbit’s new mission is to provide all children with access to nutritious, made-from-scratch meals in school, while also encouraging them to explore, learn and grow healthy relationships with food that will go beyond their schooling days.
Red Rabbit also advocates for environmental sustainability by minimizing their environmental impact. They do this by encouraging their school partners to utilize reusable dishware, utensils, serving and food containers, and eliminating the usage of Styrofoam. Red Rabbit also donates leftover food to local organizations that are in need of healthy food.
A Mission-Driven Economy
Like CiTTA’s Founder and CEO Belinda Li, Rhys Powell is an alum of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, who believes that more and more, people and businesses are driven by mission. We couldn’t say it better than he does in Vanity Fair: “Our mission is our business…it’s a shift that’s happening in business and really indicative of what’s happening in society, too.”
We hope you’ll continue to support and seek out black-owned business and social enterprises – in February and beyond!