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Female Founders to Watch: Starting Up to Do Good

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Female entrepreneurs aren’t just doing amazing things in the for-profit sector, they’re also some of the coolest social entrepreneurs out there.

By Jessica Stillman (Editor, Women 2.0)

Some founders aim to change the world by developing and selling cool new products, while others take a more direct route, starting businesses with the immediate aim of solving social problems. These social entrepreneurs make no bones about the scale of their dreams — they want to make the world a better place — and many of those doing the most interesting and impressive work are women. Here are just a few of these extraordinary female social entrepreneurs:

Eden Full (Founder, Roseicollis Technologies)
Eden Full won Mashable’s Startup for Good Challenge in 2011 at age 19 with SunSaluter, before grabbing a place in the inaugural class of the 20 Under 20 Thiel fellowship. Follow her on Twitter at @roseicollistech.

Lily Liu (Founder & CEO, Public Stuff)
New York-based Public Stuff lets residents make real-time requests of local government (think a cheaper, better 311) that proved its worth during Hurricane Sandy. The company just raised $5 million in new funding late last year, according to TechCrunch.

Melissa Rich (Founder & President, InterSchola)
San Francisco-based InterSchola helps schools sell surplus goods. The company has won many accolades, including being named one of Businessweek’s 2012 Top 5 Most Promising Social Entrepreneurial Ventures. Follow Rich on Twitter at @MellisaRich_IS.

Christine Rizk  (Co-Founder & COO, Fashion Project)
Boston-based Fashion Project aims to transform castoff designer clothes into dollars for charity. Together with co-founder Anna Palmer, Rizk started the company after experiencing the frustrations of fundraising firsthand. The company raised $450,000 in seed funding from angel investors last year.

Shivani Siroya (Founder & CEO, InVenture)
Siroya founded InVenture to help businesses that are too small for traditional banking, developing InSight, a mobile tool to calculate their “credit scores.” She was a TED Fellow and participated in The Unreasonable Institute. Follow her on Twitter at @shivsiroya.

Lindsay Stradley (Co-Founder, Sanergy)
Stradley’s resume includes stints at Yale and MIT Sloan, but these days she’s left the ivory tower to help solve one of the world’s dirtiest problems – sanitation. Sanergy builds compact toilets that Kenyan women run as franchises. Follow her on Twitter at @LindsayStradley.

Roshaneh Zafar  (Founder & Managing Director, Kashf Foundation)
What does her organization do? New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof boils it down: “Roshaneh Zafar… fights extremism with microfinance.” Last year Kashf partnered with Kiva to provide more microloans in Pakistan. Follow her on Twitter at @RoshanehZafar.

Women 2.0 readers: What other female founders would you nominate for a list of social entrepreneurs to watch?

Image credit: hoyasmeg via Flickr.

About the writer: Jessica Stillman is a freelance writer with interests in unconventional career paths, generational differences, and the future of work. She writes a daily column for Inc.com and has blogged for CBS MoneyWatch, GigaOM, and Brazen Careerist, among others. Follow her on Twitter at @entrylevelrebel.