Social Enterprises to Watch in 2018

5 min read

Last year, we shared five social enterprise brands that were poised to make a difference in 2017. A year later, making socially responsible choices every day feels even more important. It’s easy to say that social enterprises are going to keep growing in prominence and changing the business landscape, but to create that change, they need to capture attention and keep growing their audiences.

These three social enterprises are using marketing in very different ways to spread their messages — and we’ll be watching them all in 2018.

  • Copia

Copia uses tech tools to address the twin issues of hunger and food waste. Copia’s mission is “to end hunger by instantly matching businesses and events with surplus food to those in need.” The program allows business and other groups to alert Copia when they have excess food from an event. Copia then matches this donation with a ServSafe Certified food handler and with a nonprofit, such as a local shelter or afterschool program, to ensure timely delivery of the food.  

While Copia is currently operating only in Northern California, the company has plans to expand. If you want to be notified when Copia comes to your area, you can sign up for updates.

@gocopia gives businesses the opportunity to provide excess food to those in need. Click To Tweet

How Copia uses Instagram to spread the word about food waste

Copia uses Instagram, so often a platform for showing off luxury, to remind us all of the importance of thinking about our consumption and how to give back. In an #EarthDayEveryDay campaign in 2017, Copia used an existing hashtag to deliver eye-catching calls to action and engage their audience.

These posts included stark facts like “If food waste were a country, it’d be the 3rd largest producer of CO2 in the world.” It also reminded viewers that action on this issue could make a difference, because “reducing food waste by 15% could feed 25M Americans.” By tying the posts back to the existing hashtag #EarthDayEveryDay, Copia ensured that their posts could reach a larger audience than their existing followers.

  • SunBug Solar

B Corp SunBug Solar has been designing and installing solar power solutions for Massachusetts homes, businesses and nonprofits since 2009.

While many people may want to switch to solar power for environmental reasons, financial reasons or both, it has a high barrier to entry. Installing solar panels has an upfront cost and inspires all sorts of questions about design and usability. That’s why SunBug’s website and its many educational aspects are so notable.

How SunBug Solar’s website guides visitors through the solar install process

While SunBug only operates in Massachusetts, its website is a great example of how to invite people in and encourage them to make a major, environmentally-friendly change. The website takes visitors through the steps of solar installation and why they should invest, piece by piece.

The website  approachable for those who know little about electric or solar installations. It’s visually appealing and easy to navigate, with separate sections for homeowners, businesses and nonprofits.

Within these sections, SunBug uses a combination of graphics, photos, videos and text to address everything from the technology and cost to questions like “does solar work in New England?” All of the information is tailored to the audience, like information on tax credits for homeowners and Solar Renewable Energy Certificates for nonprofits.

In 2018, we hope to see SunBug continue to prosper — and to see more social enterprise brands and nonprofits with highly technical products or services create similarly inviting websites.

  • Narayana Health

We hear most about U.S.-based social enterprises, but it would be a mistake to ignore the rise of social enterprises around the globe. Thomson Reuters Foundation has found that while the U.S. has the most favorable environment for social entrepreneurs, the sector is growing across countries and cultures. Asian Venture Philanthropy Network and Sattva Knowledge Center reported early last year that India has 2,000,000 social enterprises, and Thailand has 116,000. In a January 2018 special report, Nikkei’s Asian Review highlighted one of these thriving social enterprises, Narayana Health.

Narayana Health is a hospital system dedicated to helping lower-income people access treatment for heart conditions. Founded by Dr. Devi Shetty, Mother Teresa’s personal doctor, the publicly held company now runs 24 hospitals in India and the Cayman Islands. Through a combination of partnerships with government and changes in hospital procedure, Narayana has brought the price of bypass surgery to 100,000 rupees (approximately $1,500). Narayana continues to look for ways to lower the cost of surgery without compromising quality, with the aim of expanding access to other critical surgeries.

How Narayana is spreading the word with media and industry leaders

Narayana Health describes itself as being on “a passionate journey to establish ourselves as the lowest-cost, high-quality healthcare service provider in the world.” For the Narayana model to spread further and influence healthcare around the world, their message that low-cost and high-quality can coexist is critical. To effectively spread that message, Narayana strategically connects with the right media and industry leaders.

@NarayanaHealth knows that low-cost and high-quality healthcare can coexist. Click To Tweet

Dr. Shetty has appeared on NPR’s From Scratch podcast to talk about the Narayana model.

In the interview, he highlights the stark facts about access to surgical care: a century after the first cardiac surgery, only 8 percent of the world’s population can afford heart surgery. Narayana’s work has also been highlighted by The Commonwealth Fund, a U.S.-based foundation dedicated to improving health care practice and policy. They have released both a case study and a podcast on the Narayana model.

Spreading the word about Narayana’s model isn’t just about growing the Narayana chain of hospitals. It’s also about helping the other 92 percent of the world gain access to affordable, high-quality surgery.

What other social enterprise brands are you watching this year? Are you looking for marketing ideas for your own social enterprise?

Get in touch, or download our social enterprise marketing plan template.


Leave a Comment