Creating A Hub For Social Enterprise In Orlando
Planned Giving – By Rachel Calderon
In last month’s Park Press column, I introduced the Social Enterprise Accelerator, a new avenue for empowering entrepreneurs to build viable businesses that solve social issues. The Accelerator is now accepting applications for its first class, which will begin in September.First, why does our community need a resource like this? The simple reason is that we have a growing number of emerging business leaders who have a big idea for solving a social issue, but they need some direction with getting there. They need a support network, guidance, and strategy to grow to the next phase and achieve their mission.
The Accelerator helps entrepreneurs secure the connections, resources, and funding to launch their game-changing ideas. It is led by a public-private collaboration that also includes Orlando-based Clean the World, which recycles discarded hotel soaps to battle global disease; and Downtown Credo, which runs four name-your-price coffee shops.
J.P. Morgan, CNL Financial Group, Tupperware and Greenberg Traurig law firm are also key backers, as are Central Florida Foundation and Entrepreneurs in Action. The City of Orlando has also embraced the Accelerator as a tool to enhance the region’s economic development and tackle its social issues.
Together, our mission is to bring about positive social change fueled by the launch of creative, profitable, and sustainable economic ventures.
Here’s how the program works:
The Accelerator is free to selected applicants, and six to eight teams will compete for a minimum $25,000 investment. They’ll take part in a six-month, customized program with proven curriculum designed by Rollins College – one of the nation’s leading colleges for social entrepreneurship – and enjoy access to a team of mentors, faculty and student interns, as well as legal, accounting and marketing professionals.
Regardless of who wins, each participant will graduate from the Accelerator with a more detailed business plan, enhanced professional network, and clearer roadmap to both business and social impact success.
Already, the concept is taking hold. Two young entrepreneurs from Orlando were about to move to California to grow their company, a social-benefit app called Snapgood. When they heard about the Accelerator, they scrapped those plans and decided to apply to the program.
As word gets out, we think enthusiasm will start to snowball, generating interest from entrepreneurs and investors alike.
By their very nature, social enterprises – whether focused on local or international issues – are deeply attached to their communities. They are owned and operated by higher percentages of women and minorities than the traditional “tech” start up.
Just as importantly, these businesses attract millennials looking to get involved, and give back, in a personal way. Millennials are predicted to take over the workforce by 2030, comprising 75 percent of employees. In addition, Millennials are 60 percent more likely to buy from socially-conscious brands, and represent $2.45 trillion in spending power.
As our region seeks to broaden its economy, imagine the possibilities that will emerge from accelerating our commitment to social enterprise. Let’s come together to turn dreams into reality – creating jobs while making the world a better place.by