Five Companies that Serve the Underserved
The following "blue sky" companies focus their missions on market niches that are commonly underserved by traditional businesses:
SUNRISE BANK of St Paul MN. has a stated mission of being the “most innovative bank empowering the underserved to achieve”. The family-owned bank has focused its marketing and growth plans on low-income residents and the increasing population of immigrants that now live in Minnesota’s urban neighborhoods.The bank has proactively hired a diverse front-counter workforce and increased its outreach via multi-language services, philanthropy, financial literacy education, and volunteerism.Product lines also have been adapted. Sunrise has compassion as one of its motivations: “Every community or population, no matter how poor or how new to the country, has its own hopes, dreams, aspirations and obstacles. Banks should recognize their obligation to help people realize those goals.”The bank also is a certified B-Corp which formalizes their commitment to social good.
PIGEON.LY targets the prison inmate population and their families. They offer affordable photo-sharing, telephone and mail services. They claim to have the largest up-to-date prisoner databases – a critical component that addresses the challenge of connecting inmates with their families. Often, inmates are transferred without notifying families, so mail and messages are often misplaced. Pigeon.ly employees see their mission not just as a technology solution but also as a way to “keep families together.”
EONE is a fashionable, high-end watch designed for the vision-impaired who want an alternative to “talking” watches that are sometimes disruptive or inappropriate in certain settings. The company’s charitable partner is The Seeing Eye, the oldest existing guide dog school in the world
Yellow Scope was created by two moms/scientists. The company sells toys/kits designed to help girls fall in love with science.The learning experience is described as rigorous with real lab equipment. This addresses the market dirge of products aimed at girls that focus on light-weight pseudoscience (like creating spa products) vs. the ones marketed to boys that are focused more on foundational science principles.
Love Your Melon was founded in an entrepreneurship class at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota by two friends, Zach and Brian. On a mission to improve the lives of children battling cancer since October 22nd, 2012, Love Your Melon began with the simple idea of putting a hat on every child battling cancer in America. Now the hats are a hipster fashion item and 50% of profits go to non-profit partners fighting pediatric cancer. To date, they have donated over$ 2.6 million and over 109,000 hats.