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Apr 27, 2016

May Is a Great Month to Learn About Social Enterprise in Central Ohio

The social enterprise sector in Central Ohio is growing rapidly but remains in the early stages of development.  This became clear in April when The Columbus Foundation and the Columbus Jewish Federation hosted an investment presentation by the Israeli Venture Network (IVN).  The IVN has invested in over 30 social enterprises through four social investment funds.  With this track record it could talk about return on investment and the social impact driven by those investments.

Central Ohio is not yet able to tell an equivalent story of investment and accomplishment.  We do not yet have investment funds focused on social enterprises nor have we compiled sufficient data to demonstrate the social benefit that investing in local social enterprise can produce.

Despite lacking a track record, Central Ohio has energy, involvement, and momentum.  May provides an excellent opportunity to learn more.  Four public events next month will feature local participants in social enterprise talking about their experiences in and expectations for social enterprise.
At noon on May 3 the Columbus Metropolitan Club will host a session on the local start-up investment programs.  Capital remains scarce, especially for start-up social enterprises, and gaps persist.  This luncheon panel will discuss the gaps that are being filled by the Ohio Small Business Development Center and ECDI, and the gap that soon will be filled by the CINCO Fund.

As part of StartUp Week, on May 4 at 3pm a panel of entrepreneurs will discuss ways in which a business can integrate social impact into its business model.  Jeni’s Ice Cream has opted for the certification route, while Commons Studio is becoming a social enterprise (and embarking that evening on the SEA Change accelerator facilitated by the Center for Social Enterprise Development!).

On May 13 as part of the all-day Cause Collaborative conference, a 1:00 pm panel of local nonprofits will talk about why they have concluded that social enterprise is an essential approach to sustaining their nonprofit missions.  They will also discuss why they chose the SE Catalyst immersion program run by the Center to help them develop their social enterprise ideas.

Young professionals are the most dynamic supporters and participants in social enterprise.  On May 27 the Ohio Young Professionals Leadership Summit will feature an entire afternoon on social enterprise.  A luncheon panel will feature three local social entrepreneurs talking about the special meaning that social impact gives to their business.  It will be followed by three sessions for Summit participants to meet directly with a dozen local social entrepreneurs to learn ways they can become involved in these businesses’ development.

Central Ohio may not yet have the results, but these four events in May will provide opportunities to hear directly from the people that are already directly involved in advancing this emerging sector.  The sessions will provide attendees a compelling case to advise, donate to, buy from, and invest in local social enterprises.

Today you can create social impact yourself by buying from the 85 social enterprises listed in the Central Ohio Social Enterprise Directory.  To see the incredible range of activities, share and like our Facebook page which updates local action regularly.  And, of course, follow the action on twitter (@CSEDcentralOH, #socent, #AsSeenInCbus, #GiveBackHack, #passionpurposeprofit).

Allen Proctor, Facilitator of Social Enterprise and President, Center for Social Enterprise Development