Social innovation calls for identifying and meeting the unfulfilled needs of people and communities. Since the development of the Cooperative Movement back in the 19th century, people and organisations have been trying to satisfy their existing needs and challenges by changing the way they act as well as their working models. The financial challenge is increasing, but the landscape for development innovation is also changing in a positive way as more entrepreneurs, nonprofit organisations and active communities of citizens organise their own brainstorming ‘sessions’ to generate good social innovation ideas. Behind every great project lies a great idea. In this blog post we have compiled a list of 8 mind-blowing social innovation ideas that have had a positive social impact or promise a better future.



Community Shop

The role of social enterprises in the overall development is increasing as it is now evident that they can greatly support the economy, create jobs and generate local wealth. A great example is Community Shops, which today have a presence in almost all areas of the world in various forms in terms of their offering and structuring. Community Shop in the UK ‘is a social enterprise that is empowering individuals and building stronger communities, by realising the social potential of surplus food’. But is it only about food, or is there something more important in this initiative? ‘Members of Community Shop can shop for good food at great prices – easing pressure on family budgets – but also gain access to professional, personal development programmes, to kick-start positive change in their own lives.’ As per the owners’ words, this is their success plan!

Find out more about it here.



It is very important that companies and organisations include responsible and social contribution actions within their range of activities. Nowadays, more than ever, there is a greater need to achieve a global reduction in food waste at the same time as increasing food support for charity organisations. Boroume comprises a group of people who try every day to help reduce food waste at the same time as increasing food support for NGOs that provide help for people across Greece. As a nonprofit organisation, they adopt a holistic approach to the issue of food waste, seeking to address prevention, information and practical implementation at every level of the food chain. They started out five years ago with 12 cheese pies and now they say they have saved and offered more than 20 million portions of food in every corner of the country.

Find out more here.


Rapanui organic clothing

They have a big plan; to redesign the clothing industry. Why? To make clothing more sustainable. OK, but how will they do that? Obviously through exploiting the capabilities of technology for a good cause. Companies have started to approach the issue of environmental protection seriously. They choose not to use air conditioning in their offices and they use recycling bins at the same time as creating their products to be more environmentally friendly.

Rapanui make their products from more sustainable materials like organic cotton. Most of their work during the first few years of their brand was aimed at helping customers understand where clothing comes from and how it’s made. They believe that the future of fashion is a circular economy, meaning that when you’re done, you can send your old products back to them and cash in the material for store credit.

Find out more here.


Soma Water

Clean water is a basic human right. One in every 10 people in the world has no access to clean water. Some of them have to walk for two to four hours to (maybe) find a lake containing dirty water in order to cover their basic needs. The mission of Soma Water is to help bring an end to the global water crisis. According to Soma, ‘Thousands of people now have access to clean water through projects funded by the Soma community. All Soma employees launch their own fundraising campaigns and Soma matches employee donations to charity: water 100%.’[i]

Find out more about Soma here and find out how you can launch your own campaign to raise money for clean drinking water.


Trabasack lap desk bag

It’s amazing what can happen when a great idea meets technology. Sometimes an idea that helps to tackle a wide social problem comes from one person who faces the problem in their everyday life and decides to do something about it. The Trabasack lap desk bag is an award-winning British innovation. ‘Clare and Duncan’s son Joe was born with Dravet Syndrome, a condition which causes severe epilepsy and learning disability. As a former sculptor Clare turned her creative energies into product design and created the first Trabasack as a wheelchair lap tray designed to be safe and easy to use for Joe. Soon the family found others enquiring about their innovative tray and they took the step to make the product commercial.’[ii]

Find out more about this innovative idea here and here.


Swipe out hunger

Hunger and homelessness are widespread among college students around the world. According to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, about 15% of students at 66 institutions in the US said that they had gone hungry during March 2018. Swipe is a leading organisation founded by a group of UCLA students partnering with universities to end college student hunger. How does it work? Students use the service to donate extra meal swipes. Then the donated money moves into a ‘swipe’ fund which is ultimately used towards either dining hall credits or the campus food pantry.

Find out more here.



With every product you purchase, TOMS will help a person in need. ‘One for One’ – this is TOMS registered trademark slogan around the world. Every time we purchase a TOMS product, we help someone who also needs it but cannot afford to buy it. A simple idea has grown into a global movement: TOMS Shoes has provided over 60 million pairs of shoes to children since 2006, TOMS Eyewear has restored sight to over 400,000 since 2011 and TOMS Roasting Company has helped provide over 335,000 weeks of safe water since launching in 2014. In 2015, TOMS Bag Collection was founded with the mission to help provide training for skilled birth attendants and distribute birth kits containing items that help women safely deliver their babies. As of 2016, TOMS has supported safe birth services for over 25,000 mothers.’[iii]   

Find out more about what TOMS is doing today here. 


The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook

We all know the benefits of reading. Reading refines the spirit and sharpens the thought. Our spiritual horizons are widened and critical thinking is activated. Taking this into consideration there is a tendency around the world to create books with educational content that benefits not only the reader but society as well. A good example is The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook authored by Ellen Jackson and published by Taunton Press.

‘Almost twenty years ago, some of the most revered chefs in the world looked at the way Americans were eating and decided that they had to help change it. In 1993, these visionary chefs founded Chefs Collaborative and vowed to use their influential restaurants to educate the public about a better way to nourish ourselves, a way that would be better for the planet, for our health, and for our communities. Now more than 12,000 strong, the Chefs Collaborative network includes top American chefs who have been a significant force in the food revolution that’s improved the way Americans eat.’[iv]

Find out more here.


Learn more at Social Innovation Academy

World history has shown us that crises act as precursors to social change; however, that doesn’t mean much on its own. It is necessary to implement specific policies and action plans that will enable good ideas to be transformed into great social innovations. The role of education is critical in enabling a move in this direction. Limitless, along with 4 other partners, has recently launched a project that aims to develop the first online Social Innovation Academy in Europe. The Social Innovation Academy will be the first fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation.

Why Social Innovation Academy? Social innovation is increasingly seen as the answer to the rising number of European societal challenges. While the European authorities, leading academics, policy experts, business people and activists agree that social innovation is the key to a better future for Europe and the world, it is extremely difficult for professionals to obtain high-quality training on what social innovation actually offers and, more importantly, how it can be done in practice. The Social Innovation Academy will aim to change this situation in Europe and beyond. If you are interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our friends or follow us on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here


The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Would you like to collaborate? Get in touch!

Subscribe to Social Innovation Academy updates


The Relationship Between Social Impact and Sustainable Tourism: Insights from the Founder of Rooted

The tourism industry accounts for approximately 10 percent of the world’s workforce, and the ripple effects felt by other industries are profound. Tourism can be an incredible force for good but implemented improperly, it can also do a lot of damage. One of the most...

8 leading social innovation trends for 2020

What are the leading social innovation trends for 2020? Check out 8 trends selected by the researchers at Social Innovation Academy.

How the European Social Innovation Competition is supporting new innovators and ideas

The European Social Innovation Competition is now in it’s sixth year, read how it is supporting social innovation across all EU and Horizon 2020 countries.

8 social innovations addressing the coronavirus pandemic

8 impactful social innovation examples addressing the coronavirus pandemic to bring you hope in these dire times. Check them out!

8 housing solutions for inclusive cities

An inclusive city is one in which all the inhabitants and their needs are valued on an equal basis. It is a place where the people whether wealthy or poor, educated or uneducated, able-bodied or dysfunctional; also regardless of race, age, religion, origin, political...

Tech-oriented social innovation: 8 tips from one of the leading start-up enabling platforms in Europe

Interested in learning how to make your tech-oriented social innovation successful? Learn from one of the leading start-up platforms in Europe.

8 examples of corporate social innovation worth considering in your company

Corporate Social Innovation (CSI) spans different fields and sectors; here are some of the initiatives that firms have integrated into their operations.

How crises are a leverage for social innovation: 8 systemic change strategies to address systemic issues

Social innovation must involve all sectors of the society. Discover 8 systemic change strategies to address systemic issues in times of crisis, as COVID-19.

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your network!