40 Michigan Companies Making a Social Impact

By Amanda Lewan on October 4th, 2015 / Comments

A little over five years ago the state of Michigan passed the L3C entity formation option created for the for-profit, mission driven company. It was a reflection of an interest for a new type of company, one that creates profit along with a social impact.

While this trend continues to grow, we wanted to find out who’s leading the way for social entrepreneurship. In this list, we scoured community partners, recent news stories, and kept an eye out for startups launching new social enterprises.

Each business represented here has a layer of social impact baked into their for-profit model. This includes companies who have a give back financial model, companies who hire or service an undeserved market, and those who add in community engagement or social awareness as a vital part of their business.

Retail & Product

Bags to Butterflies. Creating handbags that also encourage mental health in women. You don’t have to carry your baggage alone with this local product and community.

Buy the ChangeTwo Michigan based friends got together to create an ecommerce outlet for goods and products made by women who have been victims of sex trafficking or survived war and poverty in their home countries.

Breathe in Detroit. More than another Detroit t-shirt maker. This company has a give back model donating to Detroit charities to fuel good words on their swag and put them into action.

City Girls Soap. This startup previously received the “Women Rock Prize” by the Michigan Women’s Community Foundation. They create handmade soaps, lotion and laundry flakes out of goat’s milk and employ young people in Pontiac.

De-treadDe-tread saw a growing tire problem in Detroit, where piles of tires were being left in the city creating a fire hazard for the neighborhood. This company recycles the tires and creates products with the re-used rubber material instead.

LazloThe T-shirt that lasts a lifetime, and creates a lifetime impact for former prison inmates. These shirts are made locally in Michigan and hire and train those coming out of prison to provide job opportunities.

Original Stix. Hockey town has a new product that creates a social impact. These iPhone cases are made from recycled game used hockey sticks and assembled by local vets in Detroit.

Owen & Abbey. Reclaimed wood made into handcraft furniture, drawing awareness to re-using materials from Detroit’s abandoned homes.

Rebel Nell. This company makes beautiful jewelry from recycled paint graffiti found in Detroit. They also hire local women to create the product.

The Social Club Grooming Company. Located in Detroit on Wayne State University’s campus, this business is more than a barber shop. They have a model that engages the community through “Shop Talk” that inspires and connects Detroiters to local happenings in the community.

Super Business Girl.  We’ve been following the story of the young and inspiring Asia Newson, known as Detroit’s Youngest Entrepreneur. Asia sells candles that she makes locally in Detroit, and trains other kid entrepreneurs to learn the art of the sales pitch.

Teddy’s TsA company that sells buttons and t-shirts that advocate for civil rights for the disabled.

Tried & True. The Tried and True thrift store in Southgate hires and trains folks with disabilities to help run the store. Their aim is to help people with disabilities become more fully integrated into the community.

Wallace Detroit Guitars. One of the most interesting products to see made from reclaimed wood. Wallace Detroit Guitars are hand crafted guitars beautifully made from Detroit’s own reclaimed wood.

Vital Detroit. Clothing with a give back model that donates specifically to the revitalization efforts in Detroit


ardentCause. The first L3C filed in Michigan, this technology company provides data management for the nonprofit world.

Birdhouse for Autism. A technology company that provides much needed tools and resources for caregivers of loved ones with Autism.

Grubbable. Helping you to “eat with purpose” this new app recently launched in Detroit to help the more conscious restaurant goer find places near them that source their food locally.

Endless Crowds. A crowdfunding platform serving active and veteran military, first responders, and their families.

Kidpreneur. Youth often do not get exposed to technology or entrepreneurship early on. Kidpreneur’s workshops and programs changes this, offering an engaging way to teach digital and entrepreneurship skills.

LocalHop. This new platform was designed for local communities to better connect and promote events to those around them, and currently features many local Metro Detroit communities.

Loveland TechnologiesThis technology company started in Detroit to help provide data transparency around blight and abandoned properties in the city. They’re now expanding to other urban areas with a mission to map America “parcel by parcel.”

Patronicity. A platform that provides community funding for local community improvements. The company aims to democratize the access to capital for community projects while streamlining the granting process through crowdfunding.



Batch Brewery. This Detroit brewery provides a give back model by crafting a new brew on tap each month that donates back to charities in the area.

Brooklyn Street Local. Serving locally sourced food, hiring all staff from within Detroit, and offering PWYC holistic skill-shares.

Cafe Con Leche. This coffee chain opened first in Southwest Detroit, providing a much needed community meeting space and transforming a block. They continue to be a space for an actively engage community.

Detroit Ento LLC. A firm that researches and develops the use of insects as food, feed and pharma, and plans to educate and train Detroiters how to utilize pre-consumer food wastes as feed stock and lower the strains on landfill waste management.

Detroit Water Ice. One of the newest desert spots in Downtown Detroit. This company serves up a special iced treat called “water ice” and donates profits back to local charities.

Fresh Corner CafeFresh Corner Cafe is a mission-driven fresh food delivery service working to ensure that all Detroiters can easily access an affordable and delicious healthy meal.

Hopeful Harvest Foods. Hopeful Harvest is a for-profit subsidiary of Forgotten Harvest, is a full service processor, manufacturer and co-packer dedicated to the development and growth of the metro Detroit entrepreneurial food community.

Recovery Park. Recover Park farms and foods activates vacant land for urban farming in Detroit and hiring former inmates. Recovery Park provides fresh local ingredients to many Detroit area restaurants.

Social Sushi. A sustainable sushi restaurant opening in corktown, that brings people together through events and networking opportunities.

The Natural Market. Providing chemical free goods based around self-awareness, education, and environmental responsibility at an affordable price in a fun friendly environment.

Services & Support

Bamboo Detroit. An L3C community co-working space for entrepreneurs who care about revitalizing Detroit. The space offers affordable options for entrepreneurs in Downtown Detroit.

Detroit Bus Company What happens when an entrepreneur is frustrated with transit in Detroit? The entrepreneur starts a bus company to help solve the problem.

Detroit Training CenterProviding education and job training for local Detroiters in construction, landscaping, and maintenance.

Gringras Global.  Gingras Global is a social enterprise reporting and standards development firm. All products and services are directed to sustainability and best practices.

Linnial. Detroit-based Linnial offers mindfulness support and training for entrepreneurs.

LUX CHIX. Providing holistic entrepreneurship training, helping entrepreneurs discover more spiritual and holistic approach to leadership and business.

Mission Throttle. Looking for capital for your social venture? Mission throttle is the go to fund for social impact investments.

These are just some of the leading social enterprises we’re seeing in Michigan. We’d love to hear from you if you have a for-profit, socially minded business model. Please comment below and share with us what we can add on to a future list.

Michigan startups can also list their company on our Michigan startup directory. 


About the Author

Amanda Lewan

Amanda Lewan

Editor @michipreneur. Co-founder Bamboo Detroit. Follow me @Amanda_Jenn. I love telling the story of entrepreneurs and innovators.