How Social Entrepreneurs Are Repurposing Capitalism To Tackle Global Issues

Dian Kurniawati was overwhelmed by anguish every time she visited the shores of her hometown in Java, Indonesia. The waves rushing up to her feet would leave behind plastic bags—a dismal reminder of the impact of human activity on nature, which moved her to address the problem of plastic waste. She founded Tridi Oasis, a venture that turns plastic waste into multiple opportunities.

The company gives a second life to non-biodegradable material. It collects discarded PET bottles and processes the waste into high-quality plastic flakes, which are then used for the manufacture of packaging materials and textiles. The business has created many jobs, especially for those in the informal sector who were the worst hit by the pandemic. “In the long-term, I want Tridi Oasis to turn trash into jobs and useful products,”says Kurniawati.

Canopy Power, founded by Sujay Malve, is another company working towards a cleaner environment. Growing up in India, Malve experienced what it’s like to live with frequent power outages. It inspired him to find an alternative source of electricity using solar energy—a solution that achieves substantial cost savings by cutting diesel fuel usage, while decreasing pollution and CO2 emissions. The firm aims to empower people to move away from fossil fuels and use more reliable and renewable electricity supply. The microgrid and engineering services company is solving the problem of energy access and security for businesses and communities across several remote islands in the Asia Pacific.

Tridi Oasis and Canopy Power are among the many new age enterprises that are leveraging cutting-edge technology to develop innovative solutions that deliver not only commercial success, but also create a positive social impact. Other examples include ATEC which enables universal access to safe and clean cooking, and agritech ventures Listenfield which provides an application programming interface to help produce better quality crops with sustainable agricultural practices.

Unreasonable Impact

A common thread across these enterprises is Unreasonable Impact, a partnership between Barclays and Unreasonable that offers a global accelerator programme to empower mission-driven businesses to create scalable and lasting changes. Jaideep Khanna, Head of Asia Pacific at Barclays, says “Through Unreasonable Impact, we support some of the fastest-growing ventures to help scale up entrepreneurial solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges, and help profit and purpose co-exist.”

The programme is run in cohorts across the Asia Pacific, the Americas, and the U.K. and Europe. It provides resources, mentorship, and a global support network to entrepreneurs working on resolving pressing global problems profitably while sparking innovation and creating jobs.

Daniel Epstein, Founder and CEO, Unreasonable, established the company with the mission to re-purpose capitalism. He believes that entrepreneurs are shaping the future of food, energy and sustainability and that innovative ideas from small- and medium-sized businesses are key to making lasting changes. “Sometimes we need to have unreasonable goals to change the world,” says Epstein.

Changing the World One Venture at a Time

The programme is based on the belief that the power of the collective will make a lasting impact. “Business is about people, partnerships and profitable solutions, and we have to be on the side of the entrepreneurs who take on these mammoth challenges, improve social outcomes, and generate profits for shareholders,” says Lars Aagaard, Head of Mergers & Acquisitions and Financial Sponsors for the Asia Pacific at Barclays.


Unreasonable Impact fellows do not believe in settling with the status quo. Instead, they are motivated to shape progress in the right direction and design profitable solutions to create a sustainable and equitable future. These entrepreneurs can make a dent in employment trends and lead the path towards sustainability, while also innovating across sectors such as food, agriculture, and manufacturing.

“At the forefront of innovation in their respective sectors, we continue to be inspired by each entrepreneur as they challenge the status quo with their impactful solutions,” commented Alexander Harrison, COO APAC & Country CEO, Singapore, Barclays.


All images were taken before the Covid-19 pandemic.

Back to Top