6 Female Founders Who Built Brands Based on Social Change

Women leaders have made enormous strides in the past few years. Today we’re focusing on women whose brands were inspired by a higher purpose, and whose mission is socially driven. According to Inc., businesses that are purpose-driven come out on top, motivating employees to work harder and stick around. Below, we’ve listed six accomplished female founders, with businesses ranging from affordable sanitation and organic baby food, to vegan cooking and period underwear—the ideal role models for any budding entrepreneur.

Maaria Mozaffar

Maaria Mozaffar is a civil rights attorney who launched The Skinless Project, a social enterprise founded on the belief that “all women should embrace and cultivate their personal power so they may succeed in their personal and professional lives.” After all, is that such a crazy idea?

Mozaffar has been hailed as a thought leader for a new generation. In a culture obsessed with beauty and materialism, she preaches authenticity and living in the moment. The Skinless Project is aimed at empowering women through information, resources and inspiration, teaching us to celebrate women for their talent and intellect—not just their looks.

Read our interview with Maaria Mozaffar here.

Lindsay Stradley

Lindsay Stradley is the co-founder and CEO of Sanergy, a company that provides Kenyan slums with affordable sanitation and reprocessing of waste into biogas energy and fertilizer. The brand aims to make this profitable and sustainable, so the problem of human waste disposal in developing regions can be tackled on a larger scale.

In her TED Talk ‘Why We Need To Talk Shit’, Lindsay talks about why the issue of human waste remains unresolved issue in many countries, why we need to start talking about it, and what Sanergy is doing to build economical sanitation solutions. Watch the talk in full here.

Alongside two fellow students from the MIT Sloan School of Management and a team of civil engineering, chemical engineering and architecture graduates, Sanergy created the hygienic yet inexpensive Fresh Life toilet.

Miyoko Schinner

Miyoko Schinner is the CEO and founder of Miyoko’s Kitchen, makers of “the world’s finest plant-based cheese and butter.” Miyoko’s Kitchen is built on the premise that it’s possible to be a cheese lover and an animal lover. An award-winning vegan celebrity chef, Schinner’s book, Artisan Vegan Cheese, arguably kick-started the vegan cheese movement, putting artistry into cheese-making—without supporting the cruelty of the dairy industry.

Schinner is an animal activist and co-founder of farm animal sanctuary Rancho Compasión, where she helps to care for the animals alongside her creative work in the kitchen.

Sallie Krawcheck

Sallie Krawcheck is the CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, a digital investing and financial advisory service for women. A celebrated financial feminist, she’s considered one of the most senior women on Wall Street, having started her career as an equity analyst for various Wall Street firms. The Daily Beast describes her as “a rare honest voice on Wall Street.”

Krawcheck is the Chair of global professional women’s network Ellevate Network, and of the Pax Ellevate Global Woman’s Index Fund. Her best-selling book Own It: The Power of Women at Work is hailed as a career playbook for a new era of feminism. Watch her talk ‘The Power of Women at Work’ here.

Miki Agrawal

Miki Agrawal is a Canadian entrepreneur and the co-founder and ex-CEO of THINX underwear. Miki and her sister Radha Agrawal set up an online store in 2014 (with their friend Antonia Saint Dunbar) selling absorbent, antimicrobial women’s underwear designed to bust taboos around women’s menstrual hygiene. Not only that, the THINX Foundation regularly donates period products to grassroots organizations and local initiatives, making sanitary products available to women in developing countries.

A serial entrepreneur, Agrawal was also the brains behind Tushy—the bidet you can attach to any toilet. Likewise, every Tushy purchase gives one family access to clean community toilets. She owns two organic, gluten-free pizza restaurants in New York called Wild.

Shazi Visram

Shazi Visram is the big boss behind organic baby food brand, Happy Family. An entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist, Visram got the idea in business school after her friend admitted she felt guilty about not making homemade baby food. Happy Family was created with the intention of not only making children healthier, but giving back to those in need. In 2011 it was the second fastest growing company in the food industry, and in 2014 it partnered with The Small Things to create the Happy Family Children’s Village in Tanzania.

Visram is an active member on the Board of Overseers at Columbia Business School and works with the NFTE to mentor to young entrepreneurs from low-income families.

Who else do you think deserves to be on this list? Tweet us your thoughts @iwantherjob.

Kayleigh is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to supporting startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for the latest entrepreneurial news and side hustle tips. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.
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