5 Social Good Startups to Watch in 2014

January 21, 2014
Kenneth Soto

In 2013, top startups helped their customers buy fresh food through the mail, share their cars and enjoy delicious cider. We predict that 2014 will be a breakout year for startups dedicated to social good.

Working for the social good can mean a lot of different things, but it's generally defined as activity that promotes benefits for all of society. So when it comes to social good startups, you'll see many offering products and services that promote giving and volunteerism or directly take on some of society's most common ailments like poverty or inequality. 

Whether your idea of “social good” is protecting the environment, helping the needy around the world to set up businesses or helping the homeless in your neighborhood to get their lives back, here's our list of 5 Social Good Startups to Watch in 2014:


Prosperity Candle



Prosperity Candle provides candle making and business training to refugee women who have been forced from their homes due to war, famine or discrimination. Through creation of small businesses, these women are able to earn a living wage, provide for their families and take back control of their lives.

What to watch for in 2014

Look for Prosperity Candle’s outreach to extend farther than ever as the social enterprise launches new products from around the world including rice bowls from Japan and the soapstone candle holders handmade in Kenya. Proceeds from these Kenyan vessels go directly to African families to help with healthcare costs, fund education, and support micro-enterprises in the area.

The Bottom Line: Artisanal candles create opportunities for underprivileged women and families around the world to prosper.


Wine for The World



Wine for The World sends experts abroad to work with winemakers in the developing world to create the best wine possible. Through partnerships with top Napa Valley winemakers, these small businesses are then able to export their wines for sale in the United States, a notoriously difficult process for even top wine importers.

What to watch for in 2014

In December 2013, Wine for The World completed their first collaboration between Helen Kiplinger, 2012’s Food & Wine Magazine Winemaker of the Year from Napa, CA, and Ntsiki Biyela, 2009’s Woman Winemaker of the Year, in Stellenbosch, South Africa. The wines will be available for purchase in the US starting in February/March of 2014.

The Bottom Line: Winemaking partnerships in the developing world promote small-business success and exceptionally good wine.


lur apparel


@ lur_apparel

lur apparel is a women’s fashion brand making clothing from 100% recycled materials, including plastic water bottles. In addition to the startup’s ecofriendly pursuits, the company donates a portion of its proceeds to Friendship Bridge, a nonprofit providing education and microcredit to underprivileged women, and Miracles in Action, which provides education and vocational support to the areas where lur’s clothing is manufactured.

What to watch for in 2014

lur apparel is expanding its lines each season. At the end of 2013, lur apparel began offering a greater range of clothing to fit women of all sizes. Currently featured in over 200 boutiques around the country, watch for lur apparel to continue to grow and make an appearance in a women’s boutique near you.

The Bottom Line: Sustainable and socially responsible clothing for women who make a difference.





Catchafire connects nonprofits with the professional volunteers that their organizations need to make an impact. A nonprofit posts a project (web design, for example) and potential volunteers apply online as they would on any other job board. Catchafire then helps schedule the interviews and facilitates the hiring process.

What to watch for in 2014

This year volunteering will mean more than spending an afternoon at the soup kitchen. Catchafire will allow volunteers to build their resumes while helping a good cause and give nonprofits direct access to the professional help that they need.

The Bottom Line: Catchafire gives professionals the opportunity to use their skills to make a difference.


Hand Up



Hand Up is a Bay Area startup working to help the homeless and others in need through digital donations. Each member (a person or family in need) receives their own web profile and a personalized business card. They then distribute their cards to friends, neighbors and anyone else that may want to help. Donors give online or through SMS, and member use these donations for the food, clothing and medical services that they need.

What to watch for in 2014

While currently only available in San Francisco, watch for Hand Up to begin partnering with organizations around the country. This digital approach to donating will allow for thousands of homeless and poverty-stricken families get the help they need with dignity.

The Bottom Line: Digital donations directly serve the homeless and those in need in San Francisco, and soon around the country.

One comment on “5 Social Good Startups to Watch in 2014”

  1. Hey Kenneth,
    Great read. I'll have to check some of these out. I was curious if there was going to be a 2015 update or if maybe I am just having trouble finding it. If you haven't written one for this year check out Stand4. We are a social network for social good. We work similarly to Charity Miles. Sponsors advertising dollars are used to sponsor 'Stands' you can take on our app. Stands can be anything from taking a picture at the beach or drawing an animal. Easy tasks anyone can do. Every time you take a stand, we donate. It is the easiest way to make your mark on the world without ever having to open your wallet or take more than a couple of minutes of your time. If you have questions or want some more information shoot me an email and I would be more than happy to help. I can also send you a press kit as well. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Best,

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