Innovation That Matters

Top 10 Nonprofit & Social Cause startups from the past 12 months

From innovations addressing the #BlackLivesMatter movement, to startups that empower refugees, here are the top nonprofit & social cause startups from the past year. Note: in order to read some of these articles, a Springwise Access account is required.

Blind women trained for early breast cancer detection

Tapping into the many talents of blind individuals, discovering hands trains blind women for clinical breast cancer examinations — their tactile awareness has been proven to enhance detection rates.

We also saw a crowdsourced app, SeeLight, which offers audible information to help blind and visually impaired users cross urban roads.

Read more about discovering hands »

Cashiers will keep an eye on elderly customers’ wellbeing

In Holland, supermarket staff are keeping an eye out for signs of loneliness or neglect in older customers as part of the Super Care initiative.

Read more about Super Care »

Contactless donation in cafes help feed children around the world

Looking to make small donations seamless is Lunchbox, a contactless donation box that could increase monetary donations by upgrading the old-fashioned change bucket.

Read more about LunchBox »

Edible pie charts raise awareness of gender inequality

Although improving, institutional racial and gender inequality is still pervasive in countries around the world, and we are seeing innovations hoping to raise awareness and foster a more open dialogue. Bakery chain Paul has created Bittersweet Pies — a range of cakes topped with statistics that highlight the country’s gender inequality.

JumpStart Inc’s Focus Fund tackles the homogeneity of Silicon Valley tech firms, by investing USD 10 million in women and ethnic minority-led, early stage tech companies. We also saw, a voice-changing recruitment tool letting coders interview for top tech companies without the risk of unconscious biases working against them.

Read more about Bittersweet Pies »

Former gang members launch guided tours in Panama

Just as startups are helping asylum seekers integrate into the society of their new homes, an initiative in Panama City aims to reintegrate ex-criminals into their community. The Fortaleza Tour is a walking tour set up by rehabilitated graduates of the Esperanza Social Venture Club — an organization dedicated to demobilizing Panama’s street gangs. The tour takes visitors through landmarks and historic sites, as the guides share their personal stories and favourite hangouts.

Read more about Fortaleza Tour »

Free resource helps transgender people find indiscriminate doctors

While rights for trans and cis individuals may receive less headlines than other issues, significant advances are still being made. MyTransHealth will be a searchable database for the trans community — listing local, qualified doctors with understanding and expertise.

Read more about MyTransHealth »

Free tattoos to cover self harm scars

Lastly, apprentice tattooist Whitney Develle has offered to cover up self-harm scars for free to enable sufferers to put their past behind them.

Read more about Self-harm tattoos »

London workshop provides refugees with a bike and the skills to fix it

One of the most pressing issues faced by nations around the world today is the refugee crisis. We have seen many innovations alleviating living situations in camps, but the most inspiring initiatives work to integrate those who have been forced to flee their home country, helping them start businesses, gain skills and have a chance at a sustainable life in a foreign place.

The Bike Project — run by some of London’s refugees — provides new immigrants with donated bikes, and teaches them how to repair them. Transport in London is notoriously expensive, so having their own bikes increases their chances of finding work.

In Finland, Startup Refugee will provide mentoring programs and funding to help refugees in Finland start their own businesses.

Eat Offbeat enables people to order home-style ethnic meals prepared and delivered by refugees who have resettled in New York. Tapping into the growing trend of on-demand food delivery, as well as consumers’ appetite for authentic, exotic foods, the social enterprise simultaneously empowers those in need.

Read more about The Bike Project »

Panic button automatically calls contact list with live-stream video

Incidents of police brutality have once again lead to tragic headlines in the US this year. Witness is a mobile app enabling users at risk of police harassment to easily record and broadcast their situation to a configured contact list.

Body cam usage has increased, but the MagCam might provide a more direct solution to the crises prompting the movement of #BlackLivesMatter. It is an easily mounted camera and microphone for firearms, which aims to produce clearer evidence for gun-related incidents.

Read more about Witness »

Restaurant-style soup kitchen serves patrons with dignity

We’ve seen many inspiring startups over the last 12 months looking to help feed those who go hungry. One of our favorites was Kansas City Community Kitchen, where, instead of waiting in line for their meal, those in need were shown to a table and served by a waiter.

The Food for Fines scheme, in an effort to garner more tinned food donations, enabled Lexington residents to trade cans of food for a reduction on their unpaid parking ticket fine. We also saw an Uber for food rescue — Transfernation — which is an app that links available volunteers with corporate events wanting to donate leftover food.

Read more about Kansas City Community Kitchen »