by Lauren Hockenson
In our social entrepreneurship series, The World at Work, Mashableinterviews the faces behind the startups and projects that are working to make a global impact.
By harnessing the power of digital technology, these five companies have altered commonplace models such as crowdfunding and toy development to change the world for the better. While the companies are diverse, they share a common thread: A passionate leader who’s devoted to improving lives.
Here’s a roundup of featured projects from the last week, including exclusive video interviews with the founders of these innovative startups. To read more and watch the videos, click through to the full story, and follow the series to learn about more breakthrough companies.
Big Idea: Skillshare provides an online hub for people to sign up to teach or attend offline classes.
Why It’s Working: Skillshare allows anyone to teach a class — and make money while doing so. Users choose to learn topics in five main categories at very little cost: creative arts, culinary arts, entrepreneurship, lifestyle and technology.
Big Idea: Indiegogo is a crowdfunding platform that also helps users amplify their project through a special “gogofactor.” The more traction a campaign gains, the more eyes will see it.
Why It’s Working: Indiegogo relies on “user democracy” — anybody can raise money for anything, and the power of the funders help dictate what catches fire and ends up on the website’s homepage. The result is that those looking for funding can reach new audiences to help get their work realized.
3. Love With Food
Big Idea: Love With Food is asubscription-based online food gourmet delivery service that sends tasty morsels directly to your door. For every box of treats it delivers, Love With Food donates an equivalent amount of money to a local food bank.
Why It’s Working: Smaller food producers often have trouble affording marketing and distribution services, and one in every five American children are going hungry. Love With Food is helping to solve both of those problems in one fell swoop.
Big Idea: Zaarly is a marketplace for anything — whether you want to send your wife flowers, have someone bring you dinner or need someone to mow your lawn. Sellers are hiring locally and keeping money within the community, while providers are putting money in their pockets.
Why It’s Working: Zaarly enables anyone to become an entrepreneur — whether you want to pick up some extra cash or be a full-time Zaarly user, the platform empowers people in Zaarly markets to get things done. And if you’re a small business that needs a little bit of help doing errands or filing paperwork, there’s an eager person waiting for you on Zaarly.
5. Jerry the Bear
Big Idea: Jerry the Bear is a robotic teddy bear that “has” diabetes. Children are able to take care of Jerry by checking his blood glucose levels, giving him “insulin shots” and “feeding” him a variety of foods.
Why It’s Working: Targeted specifically to children living with type 1 diabetes, Jerry helps sick kids not only learn about the procedures that are performed on them daily but also empowers them to understand the importance of symptom-checking and self-care.