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Social Startups And Giving Back

Being Europe’s leading startup capital, it comes at no surprise that Berlin is turning into a silicon valley for social innovation. As more and more visionary, agile and conscious-thinking entrepreneurs choosing Berlin as their home base, the city has developed a powerful and growing eco-system. Numerous accelerators, community events and networks are sprouting all over the city, with coworking spaces such as Impact Hub, Social Impact Lab and Migration Hub acting as trailblazers. The idea behind social business: companies can be both profitable and leave a positive footprint behind. A concept that has been particularly brought forward by banker, economist and civil society leader Muhammad Yunus. The Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the famous Grameen Bank set up his first global office in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district on Kottbusser Damm in 2018 - a good sign that Berlin is ready to play a major role in shaping the new ‘for purpose’ economy. berlin.impacthub.net , berlin.socialimpactlab.eu/en , migrationhub.network , yunussb.com

Berlin’s Most Inspiring Social Startups

In 2013, two students embarked on a mission to give people worldwide access to clean drinking water and sanitation. They founded soulbottles, a social business that makes reusable glass bottles, purfled with colorful motifs and designs. Soulbottles is 100% made in Germany, 100% free of plastic, certified as a B-Corp and gives 1 euro per bottle sold to water and hygiene projects in developing countries. soulbottles.de

Combining high quality, organic coffee with social good is the mission of Coffee Circle, a certified B-Corp and roastery from Berlin Wedding. Not only are their farmers paid far above world market price, they also invest 1 Euro per kg of coffee into social community projects in the growing regions. coffeecircle.com

Another bright company in the ‘B-Corp’s made in Berlin’ line is Little Sun. The brainchild of artist Olafur Eliasson designs and produces pocket-sized solar lamps in the shape of a little sun. Every lamp sold here subsidises a lamp for families in remote Africa, helping them to switch to clean energy and become self-sufficient. Merging the worlds of arts and engineering, Eliasson and his team continue to draw global attention by skillfully setting the tiny lamps in scene during events like the UN climate march. littlesun.com

 Those who think that sustainability cannot be sexy are proven wrong by Einhorn.

After years in the Berlin startup scene, Waldemar Zeiler und Philip Siefer founded a social business that makes fair and sustainable design condoms which are also vegan. With their funky condoms packaged in chips bags, they thrive to make an everyday product both desirable and “fairstainable”. Zeiler and Siefer also initiated the „Entrepreneur‘s Pledge“, a network where 50 experienced entrepreneurs signed up to found at least one social business in their lifetime. einhorn.my , entrepreneurspledge.org

Few things could be more ‘Berlin’ than a tech startup with a heart for planet earth. Ecosia is a search engine that uses 80% of its profits to plant trees to replenish rainforests from Brazil to Indonesia. ecosia.org

Giving Back: Social Engagement

Making a trip to Berlin and doing something good: That’s the idea of Vostel – Volunteering in Berlin. Whether sorting food donations or pitching in at a home for senior animals, Vostel supports a variety of initiatives. Give Something Back to Berlin strengthens the social cohesion of Berliners old and new: The platform brings together initiatives and search ads, for example for a multilingual football coach in Kreuzberg, thus creating space for participation and interaction. querstadtein fights against prejudice by having people who were once homeless give guided tours of the city; refugee tours are planned for the future. vostel.de , gsbtb.org , querstadtein.org/en

Über den Tellerrand kochen brings refugees and Berliners together around a table and a stove. In an informal atmosphere, they cook together and get to know each other’s cultures. Following the motto “food unites”, Kreuzberger Himmel is a Syrian specialty restaurant in Kreuzberg’s Yorckstraße and is run by refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan who want to give back the hospitality they received upon their arrival in Berlin. ueberdentellerrand.orgkreuzberger-himmel.de

A different approach to housing migrants is taken by Sharehaus Refugio. By inviting around 40 refugees to live and work together, they create a unique support network, hosting community dinners, meditation and prayer sessions or music nights in their urban garden on the rooftop. Next door, Rückenwind offers bikes for refugees, bringing them one step closer to a freedom and independence. In their workshop, donated bicycles are repaired by Berliners and refugees side by side. refugio.berlin , rueckenwind.berlin/en

Further topics in our sustainability special

 

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