America’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs: 2012 Winners

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

For our fourth annual roundup of promising social entrepreneurs, we asked readers to submit suggestions, narrowed them to 25 for-profit social enterprises, then asked readers to vote for their favorite. Over the past month, more than 7,500 readers cast their votes. Their top five picks follow:

1. The Paradigm Project, which sells clean-burning wood or charcoal cookstoves in Kenya and Guatemala, received the most votes, 15.8 percent. Co-founder Gregory Spencer says the Colorado Springs company hopes to sell 5 million by 2020. U.N.-sanctioned auditors document how much emissions the stoves save; Paradigm sells the carbon offsets the auditors award it.

2. Selling surplus goods for school districts and public agencies on EBay (EBAY), InterSchola turns unwanted assets into cash. The San Francisco business takes a cut of about 35 percent; the school or agency gets the rest—about $15 million over the past eight years—“for stuff they were previously paying to have hauled away as trash,” says founder and President Melissa Rich. It got 12.6 percent of the vote.

Source: Bloomberg Business Week (link opens in a new window)