If you’re feeling particularly depressed about the state of our world right now, you’re not alone. We’re all experiencing the impacts – both directly and indirectly – of a worsening climate crisis, ongoing global pandemic, and more armed conflicts than we’ve seen in the last 50 years. The onslaught of doom and gloom headlines is exhausting.
The recently released 2022 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) report is no exception, and the picture it paints is undeniably grim. Its opening lines read, “The world is facing a confluence of crises that threaten the very survival of humanity.” That’s a lot to take in, and news like this is burning us out. There’s even a term for it: crisis fatigue.
How do we navigate the reality of the world we live in without losing our hope, energy, and momentum towards the better future we know is possible? Like all complicated questions, there is no simple answer. But one way to carve out a bit of space for hope is to take the advice of Fred Rogers: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
No one embodies the hope and resilience of the “helpers” Rogers’ is talking about better than social entrepreneurs. As the World Economic Forum shares in this blog post, “Social entrepreneurs – innovators with a social mission – are vital first responders to the COVID-19 crisis and are uniquely positioned to represent a new standard for today’s change leaders and governments.”
According to the most comprehensive data ever gathered on the social enterprise movement, published in a recent report by the British Council and Social Enterprise UK, over 11 million social enterprises are already operating worldwide, and leaving the world better than they found it wherever they are. More importantly, they are showing proof of a better working model for a sustainable, equitable, and just economy, society, and planet.
Here are just a few examples of social enterprises advancing the SDGs:
Arqlite: Climate Action (SDG 13) & Sustainable Infrastructure (SDG 9)
Arqlite is a social enterprise that has developed upcycling technologies to transform up-to-now unrecyclable plastics into efficient, low carbon, environmentally friendly materials and solutions. These plastics otherwise would have ended up in dumps, landfills, incinerators or even worse: water courses, polluting our environment for thousands of years. One of its signature products, Arqlite Gravel, is a durable, safe, and eco-friendly alternative to traditional gravel that directly helps reduce plastic pollution while advancing sustainability within the construction industry.
Safeplan Uganda: Gender Equality (SDG 5), Quality Education (SDG 4), & Decent Work (SDG 8)
Safeplan Uganda creates sustainable jobs for young people and promotes life saving technology (including energy products) by reaching the most vulnerable women and youth with social-economical projects for sustainable rural development. Working with the community to identify the most pressing needs, Safeplan Uganda’s programs focus on the pillars of health, the environment, gender equality, education, and information technology. Its ultimate aim is to create a safe and socio-economically secure society where all people – including vulnerable citizens – live and deliver their full potential.
Caare Healthtech: No Poverty (SDG 1) & Promoting Good Health and Wellbeing (SDG 3)
Caare is an India-based consumer healthcare technology social enterprise on a mission to solve an issue that we all face: locating quality home care for the people we love. Caare’s innovative mobile app is increasing access to healthcare in rural communities by empowering community health workers to facilitate telemedicine through the app.
Sibo: No Poverty (SDG 1) & Responsible Production and Consumption (SDG 12)
Sibo is a social enterprise based in Costa Rica that creates innovations with purpose to solve the biggest pains of the food industry, like malnutrition, food waste, food scarcity, and sustainability. From food ingredients that can be used in the preparation of any kind of food, alternative and sustainable proteins, to sustainable packaging and biomaterials, Sibo looks for solutions in the places no one else does by using FoodTech and BioTech together.
Digital Lions: Decent Work (SDG 8), Gender Equality (SDG 5), & Responsible Production and Consumption (SDG 12)
Digital Lions is the world’s first Fair Trade verified digital agency, offering a wide range of creative services from websites, logos, image editing, and flyers to videos and 2D animation. Operating from a solar-powered IT campus in Kenya, Digital Lions creates world-positive jobs at fair wages, and reinvests its profits into capacity-building for local digital creatives.
Social entrepreneurs like these are lighting the way to achieving the SDGs and solving the complex, interconnected challenges facing our world. When we support social entrepreneurs, we are choosing to invest in a future more equitable and sustainable than the status quo. And just as the negative impact of crises is compounded when they are linked, so is the positive impact of interlinked solutions.
These global challenges can only be overcome with global solutions. Only by working together – across industries, sectors, and geographic borders – can we affect the scale of change needed to put ourselves back on the path to inclusive prosperity for people and planet by 2030.
“We must rise higher to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals – and stay true to our promise of a world of peace, dignity and prosperity on a healthy planet.”
António Guterres Secretary-General, United Nations
If you’re energized to take action to rescue the SDGs by accelerating the social entrepreneurs on the front lines, we hope you’ll join us on the TRANSFORM Support Hub. Launched in 2022 by MovingWorlds, SAP, TRANSFORM, and Unilever, the TRANSFORM Support Hub brings together the best of offerings made available by the public, private, and social sectors to support the social entrepreneurship ecosystem.
And our work is just getting started. To provide the best support for social enterprises, the TRANSFORM Support Hub continues to partner with corporations, accelerators, and other social enterprise support organizations to break down barriers to coordinated action and accelerate progress at the systems level. Learn more and get involved here!