ENTREPRENEURS FOR GOOD: CENTER FOR SOCIAL INNOVATION OPENED A 24,00sq.ft. SPACE IN A PRIME MANHATTAN LOCATION AS AN INCUBATOR FOR SOCIAL CHANGE THROUGH SOCIAL ENTERPRISE
The Center for Social Innovation has created a model for fostering and supporting entrepreneurs who are creating new business models as start-up social enterprises. We visited their headquarters numerous times and met with several of the Founders and many of their members. They are true believers that in order to effect real change that benefits our society that we need to develop sustainable business models, and that means PROFIT. Without a profitable business model the intention of providing a social good will fall short of its goals. An example would be a gentleman we met with who developed a for profit business that is changing the way a food drive is organized and executed. His model has donors buying groceries online from a menu of food products or just making a donation. The donors pay retail, he pays wholesale, and the wholesaler delivers the groceries to the distribution point. There are no multiple carbon footprints from many people bringing the goods to a collection point and it is easy and convenient to make a donation. The products offered are ones that really serve the purpose of those in need. No more cans of pie dough and out of date exotic sauces. He has been enormously successful. This model raises much more food than the traditional method and it has been extremely successful when offered as a competition on college campuses between sororities and fraternities. His company can execute this in any location just by making arrangements with a local food wholesaler.
Here is why we are using this example of what the Center for Social Innovation is promoting: does it accomplish a social benefit? Yes, it makes a food drive easier to participate in, yields significantly greater amounts of donations, eliminates a wasteful set of carbon footprints, and its success encourages others to have more food drives and more often. Is it sustainable? Yes, it is profitable enough that he can run this business and expand it like any other successful enterprise. Is it innovative? Yes, and it is revolutionizing the concept and application of a food drive.
Most of the start-ups born and 'raised' at CSI revolve around using today's technology and social media to create innovative social enterprises. You can sign up for their newsletter if you want to see enterprises that are changing our world grown from an idea to a reality. CSI itself is sustainable because it charges for work space, meetings, and conducts classes on social enterprise taught by the people who have successfully built such enterprises. Look for CSI to be a regular component of our newsletter
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