Social Venture Network (SVN) has announced that One World Futbol, Sseko Designs, Fenugreen, Sustainable Health Enterprises and MASS Design Group have won its 2013 Innovation Awards, which recognizes companies that have a significant impact in reducing waste, promoting health and supporting education and employment in the developing world.
As one of the world’s leading peer-to-peer networks of values-driven entrepreneurs and investors, SVN says its awards are meant to help support the next generation of socially responsible business leaders. This year's winners includes people of all ages and backgrounds, working everywhere from Berkeley to Rwanda, but united by the belief that business has the ability — and the obligation — to be a force for good in the world.
The 2013 Innovation Awards was judged by a panel of 11 expert judges, which included previous Innovation Award winner Nikhil Arora of Back to the Roots, Amy Hall of EILEEN FISHER, Inc., Renata Hron Gomez of the Hitachi Foundation and Amy Domini of Domini Social Investments.
This year's award winners were judged based on the innovation and impact their businesses displayed in solving social, environmental and economic problems.
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One World Futbol — Tim Jahnigen says he was inspired to start his project after watching news footage of kids in Darfur playing a soccer game using a ball of trash tied up with twine. He and his partner Lisa set out to design a ball that played like a “real futbol,” but would never wear out, never go flat, never need a pump. OneWorld's goal is to bring the joy of soccer and play to youth in disadvantaged communities so that children can be children no matter where they live. For every ball bought by individuals at retail, the company donates a second ball to organizations working with disadvantaged communities around the world. The company also won the Sustainable Brands Innovation Open in 2011.
Sseko Designs — Sseko Designs is an ethical fashion brand that hires high-potential young women in Uganda to make sandals to enable them to earn money through dignified employment that will go directly towards their college educations and ensure they will continue pursuing their dreams. By working for Sseko during their gap year, these young women from impoverished backgrounds gain access to a comprehensive social impact program tailored to their needs and will earn enough income to finance their career ambitions.
Fenugreen — While the world's farmers harvest enough to feed the planet, 25 percent of our food supply is lost to spoilage. Fenugreen says it is taking on this massive global challenge with a simple innovation, FreshPaper. Low-cost, compostable and made with organic spices, FreshPaper keeps produce fresh 2-4 times longer. Fenugreen aims to revolutionize the food economy from farm to fork, and transform the lives of the 1.6 billion who lack access to refrigeration with its mission of "Fresh for All."’ Fenugreen also won this year's Sustainable Brands Innovation Open.
Sustainable Health Enterprises — SHE is a social venture that invests in people and ideas that are typically overlooked as vehicles of socio-economic change. SHE’s initial initiative involves developing a franchise model to manufacture and distribute affordable, eco-friendly menstrual pads for girls and women in developing areas by sourcing local, inexpensive raw materials (e.g., banana fibers) and leveraging existing networks. Coupling these new businesses with public health and hygiene education and advocacy will have a significant social and economic impact on these communities.
MASS Design Group — MASS Design Group is a nonprofit architecture firm committed to building better buildings and enabling the people who build them. The firm works across Rwanda, Uganda, Liberia, Haiti and the US, conducting immersive research in communities not only to build context-appropriate, safer and healthier facilities, but also to leverage local material markets, lead training workshops, spur craft development and foster economic empowerment.
The winners will be formally recognized at SVN's 2013 Fall Conference, taking place October 17-20 in Baltimore, Md., where they will present their work to an audience of more than 400 CEOs, investors and social entrepreneurs. They will receive two years of SVN membership, along with free support and advisory services from SVN members, and extensive media promotion.