Five Rising Social Entrepreneurs
One of the best parts of my job is I often get to interact with next-generation leaders who—motivated by their faith—are passionate about tackling some of the world’s greatest challenges.
Here are just five social entrepreneurs who inspire me and are already having a HUGE impact:
1. Kohl Crecelius – Kohl made crocheting cool. After learning the art of crocheting from his big brother, he founded Krochet Kids International, which now employs families in Uganda and Peru to crochet hats and clothing. Krochet Kids sold 100,000 hats last year in high-end retail stores like Nordstrom and creatively connects creator and consumer. See www.krochetkids.org.
2. Courtney Rountree Mills – Until recently, Courtney advised Fortune 500 companies. Today, she’s using her business acumen and her Harvard education to unleash entrepreneurship in the developing world. Sinapis Group was an idea Courtney developed in graduate school. Coming alongside dynamic leaders in Kenya, Sinapis Group provides world-class, Christ-centered business training and seed capital. See www.sinapisgroup.org.
3. Greg Spencer –Trekking 136 miles—from San Diego to Los Angeles—with 50 pounds of firewood isn’t a walk in the park. In 2011, Greg, co-founder of The Paradigm Project, wanted to illustrate what millions of women around the world do to get firewood to cook for their families. When Greg and his dad went to Uganda several years ago, they saw the determination of the people working there, as well as great needs. With three billion people still cooking every day at an open fire, they got to work. Launching The Paradigm Project, they are committed to providing 5 million fuel-efficient cook stoves to 25 million people by 2020. See theparadigmproject.org.
4. Jimmy Lin – Jimmy dreamed of being an inventor like Thomas Edison: Today he’s finding solutions to rare disease through the Rare Genomics Institute (RGI). Fusing his skills as a scientist and his desire to help others, Jimmy connects individuals, often children, who have rare diseases with world-class geneticists and analysts at almost no cost. See raregenomics.org.
5. Jeff Shinabarger – Founder of Plywood People, a community committed to addressing social problems to ignite change, Jeff recently wrote More or Less, an engaging read exploring how to rid ourselves of excess, freeing us to give generously and to live radically. He is an example of generous living. Launching the Gift Card Giver, Jeff had the fantastic idea to gather together all those unused and partially used gift cards sitting in our wallets. By re-gifting them, thousands of people have received help. As the former brand manager for Catalyst, the Next Generation Leadership Conference, as well as a co-founder of the Q event, Jeff is passionate about spreading knowledge to Christian leaders across the country. See plywoodpeople.com andwww.giftcardgiver.com.
From crocheting to genetics, individuals of faith are pursuing their passions. It is a joy to celebrate their success—and to dream about all that’s to come.
Peter Greer is president and CEO of HOPE International, a global nonprofit focused on Christ-centered job creation, savings mobilization, and financial training.
A graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School and the former Managing Director of Urwego in Rwanda, he authored The Poor Will Be Glad (2009), The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good (2013), and Mission Drift (2014). Peter blogs at www.peterkgreer.com. Follow him on Twitter at @peterkgreer.