• Noel Williams

Examples of Social Innovations Driving Positive Change



Social innovation is the process of creating effective solutions aimed at combating various social and environmental problems. The European Commission defines social innovation as “new ideas that meet social needs, create social relationships and form new collaborations”[1]. Below we have complied a list of examples of some of the most impressive innovations that are driving positive and meaningful changes in the world.

Time Bank Examples


Time Banking is the social innovation that Nomos supports, although we support all social innovations. If you have landed directly on this page from a search or if you arrived here as a recommendation by a friend and you are not aware of time banking as a concept, then check out our blog ‘Timebanking Definition Explained for Beginners’.


The concept of timebanking has created the use of time as a currency as well as brings communities together in large groups. From these ‘Time Bank’ groups, there have been several social innovations and we outline 2 below as examples.


1. Parent Support Network of Rhode Island (PSNR)


Time Banks are an excellent example of innovations which create positive societal change. Time Banks essentially reject money as the exclusive or preferred measurement of value. It centers around the idea that people can create their own modes of exchange - in the form of time.

An example of a successful time bank is the PSNR. PSNR supports parents who have children who experience behavioral, emotional and/or mental health challenges.

Fun outings are sponsored by the network in exchange for parents providing free time services such as child-care and personal support. PSNR is an innovative time banking idea that fosters a community of understanding and encouragement.


2. Westside Repair Café


This Time Bank program helps people share expertise at an event run by L.A. group - Our Time Bank. Everyone in the community is welcome to bring broken or faulty furniture, appliances and clothing for volunteer experts to repair.


The event incentivizes people to keep old items instead of throwing them away where they may end up in landfills and potentially harm the environment. The people who attend the event pay for repairs with time credits or small donations and those who provide the repair earn time credits for themselves. A brilliant and innovative concept that helps the environment and at the same time connects people who aim to create a caring community.

Environmental Examples


3. Earth Hour Day

Earth Hour Day is a powerful and innovative movement that has made a profound social impact. During March each year, millions of people all over the world switch off all the lights in their houses/businesses for an hour. The act of doing so shows solidarity and a commitment to protecting the environment. Aiming to reduce the social and environmental problem of excessive consumption, Earth Hour Day is a wonderful initiative that everyone around the world can take part in.


4. Plume Labs


Plume Labs provides a whole series of innovative products which make information about air quality more accessible to people worldwide. The company inspires people to access and monitor the environment around them, wherever they are, and find clean, healthy air. Raising awareness about how much pollution there is in the air empowers people to take greater control of their own health and wellbeing. The people behind companies like Plume Labs are excellent examples of social innovators who are driving positive social change.


5. The Flower Factory


The Flower Factory is an innovative solution developed by Walker Marsh to address crime and violence in Baltimore. As well as operating as a flower shop, the business trains children who have left the juvenile justice system to become young horticulturalists, planting beautiful flower plots all over the city. The Flower Factory is a great example of a collaborative effort between the government and community, working together to improve the city by combing social and environmental good.


Software Examples


6. Linux software


Linux is a free and open source software that grants users an incredible amount of freedom when using their electronic devices. The entire premise of Linux is to encourage the community to work together - they have adopted the mantra ‘by the people, for the people’. As far as social innovations go, Linux is one of the best, being one of the popular and used platforms on the planet.


7. Access Earth


Access Earth is one of many digital social innovations which aims to help tackle societal challenges. Access Earth is a website and application that allows people with disabilities to locate accessible buildings, hotels, restaurants etc. As their mission statement says, the platform “empowers people to embark on new ventures without having to worry about their destination”. Access Earth is a powerful, innovative idea that tackles a real societal problem and promotes positive change.


8. Open Desk


Opendesk is a global online marketplace which allows independent furniture designers to connect with customers all over the world. The site aims to provide sustainably sourced and affordable products. The social entrepreneurs behind Opendesk stress the importance of moving away from mass manufacturing in favor of a more ethical supply chain. In the process, the innovative business is able to cut down on waste as well as transport cost.

Social Enterprise Examples


9. Bakeys edible utensils


Bakeys raised over $250,000 in a Kickstarter campaign with their innovative idea to prevent plastic waste. Bakeys offers an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic utensils in the form of edible cutlery. Based in India, the company wants to scale internationally and reduce waste worldwide. Companies like Bakeys are instrumental in providing innovative solutions to reducing the worlds waste consumption.


10. Fairphone


Fairphone is a social enterprise which put ethical and environmental values first. The company creates smartphones using environmentally friendly raw materials avoiding unethically sourced gold, tin and tantalum. The entire supply chain is mapped so Fairphone and the end customer knows exactly what goes into their final product. These environmentally conscious phones are great example of a company using social innovation making a positive impact on the world.

Innovators like the ones mentioned above are bringing attention to major social issues and providing solutions to them in new and incredible ways.


Entrepreneurs, governments, businesses and individuals should all work together to tackle the rising number of societal challenges the world is facing today. In order to improve the well-being of people and society as a whole, ideas like the ones listed above and more forms of social innovation is necessary.


Time banking is an increasingly popular way for social innovation to take form. Communities can get together, share ideas and promote social good.


How Can The Nomos App Help You Create Your Own Social innovations?


Download the Nomos app to get involved in a time banking community near you, or to start your own time banking community. Any ideas you have that could help improve social equality or your community is a social innovation.


You can also use the Nomos App to join time banking communities where you will find people willing to join you on your mission to create innovative solutions to solve social or community issues.


Sources:

  1. https://ec.europa.eu/growth/industry/policy/innovation/social

  2. https://www.psnri.org/

  3. https://ourtimebank.com/WestsideRepairCafe

  4. https://www.earthday.org/

  5. https://www.linux.com/.

  6. https://access.earth/

  7. https://www.opendesk.cc/

  8. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1240116767/edible-cutlery-the-future-of-eco-friendly-utensils

  9. https://www.fairphone.com/en/

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