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Sullivan Field Trip Offers Whirlwind Trip to At Least Seven Social Enterprises

Seven social-enterprise businesses have already been lined up for the Sullivan Foundation’s upcoming Social Entrepreneurship Field Trip to Raleigh, North Carolina, and more are in the works, according to organizer Harrison Wood.

The field trip takes place Sept. 13-15, 2019. For a rate of $119 per room, partner schools can use this link to book rooms for their attending students at the Holiday Inn Raleigh Downtown, located at 320 Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. To book by phone, they can call 855-914-1878 and reference Block ID “SUL.” Schools must book the group-block rooms by August 27.

Click here now to sign up for the field trip. The deadline to register is Sept. 2.

Students with an interest in social entrepreneurship will meet and learn from owners of a wide variety of businesses with a focus on social impact. Many of them are triple-bottom-line businesses – they generate a profit while also addressing a social need and benefiting the environment. These social enterprises include:

HQ Raleigh—Launched in 2012, this co-working community fosters entrepreneurship and collaboration. It has helped launch 500 start-ups in Raleigh, according to the company website. At its Warehouse District Location, HQ Raleigh creates a “collaborative environment that empowers high-impact, high-growth entrepreneurs to create purpose-driven businesses that leave the world better than they found it.”

Picture shows a selection of Reborn Clothing items for sale

Reborn Clothing creates an upcycling option for old clothes in your closet.

Reborn Clothing Co.—Emily Neville started Reborn Clothing as a sophomore at North Carolina State University to give consumers an upcycling option for their clothes and to reduce textile waste. The company takes used garments and repurposes them into new, useful items, including baby blankets, throw pillows, dog bandanas and more. Visitors to Reborn’s website can also purchase upcycled items made from scraps from the manufacturing process. These range from duffel bags and makeup cases to keychains, earrings and scrunchies.

CompostNow—This social business helps reduce waste by collecting food scraps from residents and businesses and turning it into compost for gardens. Customers receive a bin that can be filled up with any food scraps, pizza boxes, coffee grounds and paper products. CompostNow picks up the filled bin and replaces it with a clean one on each service day. Customers can use the resulting compost in their own gardens or donate it to farms and community gardens in the region. The company’s clients include individual households, restaurants and business offices.

this photo shows how young people are interested in composting

Volunteers spend some time creating compost for CompostNow.

A Place at the Table—This pay-what-you-can, breakfast-and-lunch café opened in downtown Raleigh in January 2018. A Place at the Table provides healthy food and community for anyone, regardless of their ability to pay. Payment options include paying the suggested price; paying at least half of the suggested price; or volunteering with the restaurant. Tips go to furthering A Place at the Table’s mission, and customers can also purchase $10 tokens to pass out in the community.

Carroll’s Kitchen—This foodservice social enterprise in Downtown Raleigh provides employment for women recovering from homelessness, incarceration, addiction and domestic violence. The Carroll’s Kitchen menu features contemporary comfort food in catering and grab-and-go services. Artisan items include mushroom toast and avocado toast for brunch, the Sausage & Roasted Pepper Quiche, seasonal soups, salads, and sandwiches such as the BBQ Meatloaf, the Pressed Roast Beef Wrap and the Turkey Brie, among others.

this photo shows the attractive GreenToGo packaging

GreenToGo containers can replace up to 1,000 single-use styrofoam boxes.

Don’t Waste Durham/GreenToGo—Crystal Dreisbach is leading a campaign to significantly reduce plastic and paper waste in Durham with these two operations. Through Don’t Waste Durham, she has proposed a new ordinance, recently endorsed by the city’s Environmental Affairs Board, that would impose a 10-cent fee on plastic and paper bags at retail stores, restaurants and grocery stores in Durham. She also founded GreenToGo, a reusable to-go container service for restaurant customers. GTG’s reusable carryout box has a spill-proof, durable design, and one box replaces at least 1,000 single-use Styrofoam boxes.

Bee Downtown—Founded by fourth-generation beekeeper Leigh-Kathryn Bonner, Bee Downtown installs and maintains beehives on corporate campuses in urban areas, helping to rebuild honey bee populations while providing turnkey, year-round employee engagement and leadership development programming to its partners. Clients have included AT&T, Chick-Fil-A and Delta Airlines.

this photo shows honey bees in action

Bee Downtown uses honey bees to teach leadership while also benefiting the environment.

“Discover Your Power”: Once Homeless, Caterer Stephanie Terry Now Creates Living-Wage Jobs for the Disenfranchised

Stephanie Terry once saw herself as a failure – divorced, homeless, separated by trying circumstances from her extended family.

But whatever was missing from her life, she wasn’t lacking in talent, faith and determination. Now, as owner of a catering company that provides living-wage jobs for people who ordinarily can’t find employment at all, Terry is a successful social entrepreneur who helps others achieve the kind of success that, to her, once seemed so elusive.

Terry, co-owner of Sweeties Southern and Vegan Catering in Durham, N.C., grew up in a family that loved soul food but also knew its drawbacks. Her great-grandmother, nicknamed Sweetie, developed recipes that captured the flavorful essence of soul food without all the salt, pork and fat. “The women in my family were very conscious of the need for healthy food,” Terry writes on her company’s website. “I just could not let go of the vision of honoring our food traditions while integrating healthy, vegan and vegetarian alternatives. I started Sweeties to do just that, taking my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother’s commitment and awareness to the next level.”


Still, success in the foodservice business didn’t come easily. She had worked as a baker and chef in a number of foodservice operations in Tampa, including the famous Wrights Bakery. But in 2001, after her divorce from her first husband, Terry and her four kids found themselves in a poorly run homeless shelter in Tampa.

“I know what it feels like to feel like a failure, just being a failure,” Terry said in a video interview with the Alla Faccia blog. (Note that her maiden name is Perry, but she has remarried since this video was created.) “My divorce felt like a failure … and I could not take care of my kids financially, and I became homeless. It was really hard.”

Fortunately, cooking wasn’t her only talent – she also had a knack for sales and impressive people skills. She was still living in the shelter when she landed a job as a sales coordinator for Marriott Hotels. She was so good at it that, after a bleak year of homelessness, she scraped up enough in savings to rent her own small place and eventually was able to bring her family back to her home state of North Carolina.

There, she became a volunteer for Justice United, which advocates for living wages for hotel workers, and was soon hired as a paid organizer. In 2009, she moved on to Organizing Against Racism (OAR), where she helped coordinate workshops for activists, students and scholars. As an activist herself, she even met with then-president George W. Bush and Florida Governor Jeb Bush to call attention to the often abysmal conditions in homeless shelters.

But things really took off when a caterer backed out of an OAR workshop at the last minute. Terry stepped in and did the job herself, and her food – not to mention her organizational skills – were such a hit that her services were soon in demand around the area.

Before long, Terry had launched Sweeties, serving up delicious soul-food dishes that include both meat and vegan options. As an L3C company, Sweeties makes a profit while also fulfilling a social mission, providing jobs for people with disabilities or criminal records. And it has earned extensive media coverage for its menu that includes everything from red beans and rice and mac and cheese to vegan fried chicken and vegan barbecue ribs.

“Everywhere I go, I tell people this: Vegan is the hottest trend in soul food,” she told IndyWeekly in an interview about her company.

She also makes sure to tell people that no dream is impossible – even when you feel like an utter failure.

“If I was talking to a child right now … I’ve achieved my dream, my visions, my goals, [so] I always say the one thing you must discover is your power,” Terry told Alla Faccia. “Along the way, with lots of help from wonderful people, I learned what power really is and how to be powerful. Believing in what you’re thinking, putting faith into whatever it is you’re dreaming about, and then acting from that place [of faith] will create whatever experience, anything you want.”


Social Venture Fund Invests in Second Location of Popular Deaf-Owned Pizzeria

The deaf couple behind Mozzeria, a celebrated San Francisco pizza restaurant that employs only people who are deaf, will open a second operation next year in Washington, D.C. with help from a venture fund that supports startups addressing social needs.

The new Mozzeria location will sit just seven blocks from the first deaf-run Starbucks signing store, which also provides jobs for the deaf and hard of hearing. Also nearby is Gallaudet University, a renowned school for the deaf and hard of hearing, where Mozzeria owners Melody and Russ Stein met.

The Steins opened the first Mozzeria in December 2011. The San Francisco location also operates two food trucks. When it came time to expand to a new market, the Steins secured an investment of “several million dollars” from the Communication Service for the Deaf Social Venture Fund (CSDSVF). The CSDSVF, according to its website, was created “to invest in deaf-owned businesses that will in turn reap more than financial profit.” Social enterprise businesses that receive the venture fund’s support make money while creating positive social change and providing employment for underserved populations like the deaf.

In April Mozzeria hosted a group of children from the California School for the Deaf/Fremont.

“It’s been a longtime dream to see a deaf-owned restaurant in Washington, D.C.,” Russ Stein signed in a joint interview with the Washington Post recently.

Diners at Mozzeria place their orders in sign language or by pointing or writing with pen and paper. Both of the Steins are accomplished pizzaioli. For Melody Stein in particular, success as a restaurateur feels especially sweet because she was rejected years ago when she applied to the California Culinary Academy. “[The Academy] called my mom and said we can’t accept her application because she’s deaf,” Stein, 45, signed to The Washington Post. “What if they were in the kitchen trying to yell, ‘Out of the way!’ with hot soup? They viewed me as a liability.”

People with impaired hearing often encounter such obstacles. As the Post reports, there are roughly 30 million Americans with severe hearing loss in both ears. Only 48 percent of deaf people have jobs, compared to 72 percent of the hearing population, at least in part because many employers subscribe to inaccurate stereotypes about deaf people.

“That’s why Mozzeria is so important,” Christopher Soukup, CEO of CSDSVF, told the Post. “The more we can put those success stories out there, brick by brick we can combat that perception.”

The Meatball Pizza at Mozzeria

Why Social Entrepreneurship is a Smarter Way of Doing Business

Mission-driven businesses can make more money than traditional profit-only companies because they deliver real value to their communities, according to Henrietta Onwuegbuzie, a Lagos Business School professor and visiting senior lecturer at Yale University’s School of Management (SOM).

As Yale Insights reports, Onwuegbuzie believes social entrepreneurship marks a return to a more traditional business model. “Business, initially, was created to meet the needs of a society, but capitalism derailed that understanding,” she said. “We now believe that you set up a business to make money while nonprofits, charities and government are meant to concern themselves with impacting lives. However, business can be a tool for social transformation while remaining profitable, and we’re losing sight of this.”

In fact, companies that address social issues can have a leg up on their competitors. “Being purpose-driven, mission-driven, impact-driven helps companies grow faster and make more money,” Onwuegbuzie said.

Henrietta Onwuegbuzie

She points to highly successful corporate giants like Microsoft and Amazon as examples of businesses that have impacted society in positive ways while reaping huge profits.

The for-profit vs. nonprofit/charity dichotomy “has led to a world where businesses that could transform the world don’t because they think impact will lead to below-market returns,” said Onwuegbuzie. “On the other hand, those (nonprofits) who are impact-driven are not sustainable because they remain donor-dependent and do not have a business model to ensure their financial sustainability … Impact-driven businesses, on the other hand, are aimed at impacting lives beyond financial returns. They therefore make money while making a difference and … bridge the gap between economic growth and social development by creating shared prosperity and, consequently, a better, safer world.”

Onwuegbuzie related a story about one of her students who was strictly out to make money and doubted that his company could thrive by focusing on social impact.

“We kept going back and forth about it until he finally decided to try the idea of being value- or impact-driven,” she recalled. The man’s company, based in Nigeria, sold educational toys, including dolls, all of which were white with blue eyes and blonde hair “and did not resemble black girls.”

“It therefore occurred to him that he could produce black dolls that would not only make the black girl proud of her brown skin and curly hair but would also help them learn about the three main ethnic groups in Nigeria: Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba,” Onwuegbuzie recounted.

The Queens of Africa line of black dolls, developed by Nigerian entrepreneur Taofick Okoya, is an example of a product that has social impact while generating profits and media buzz.

“The dolls were dressed in traditional attire for each tribe, and each one came in a box with a little booklet about the culture of each tribe. A portion of the revenues from the dolls was also intended to be used to promote education. (The business owner) identified a dilapidated school in a low-income neighborhood, which he decided to renovate with some of the proceeds from the doll sales. He required the companies he engaged in the renovations to hire local people in the area and train them as they did the work. This arrangement helped build skills in these places.

“By the time the project was completed, he was listed for a state government award. Both the novelty of African dolls with African names and the good works the entrepreneur was carrying out in the community drew attention to him. He has since been interviewed by every single national newspaper, in addition to globally known media like CNN, Forbes, CNBC, and BBC Africa. He told me, ‘For 10 years, I was making money, but not even the most rickety local newspaper cared to hear my voice. Today, I’ve got a global voice because of these dolls. They have brought me more money and fame than all my other toys.’”

Here in the U.S., Toms is an example of a company that delivers value through social impact as well as profits, Onwuegbuzie noted. “The fact that when you buy a pair of Toms shoes, another pair is given to the poor makes people prefer to buy Toms. The model has made the brand popular. People choose Toms shoes because they want to be a part of doing something good.”

Photo by Nnaemeka Ugochukwu

“With purpose-driven businesses, profit ensures business sustainability,” Onwuegbuzie added. “While most social enterprises tend to avoid profits, it is important to build sustainability into a business. Profit can be considered the reward for doing good. It also allows you to expand your business, which allows you to reach and impact more people while keeping your business sustainable. Impact-driven businesses help to bridge the gap between aggressive economic growth and lagging social development.”

Onwuegbuzie called for colleges and universities worldwide to rethink their approach to educating students about entrepreneurship. “I think business schools have a major role to play in transforming society by educating students and business leaders to be impact-driven,” she told Yale Insights. “They have to be imbued with the idea that business can be a tool for social transformation aimed at providing solutions to problems. This is also a competitive strategy, as the wider the impact of the solution, the more money the business makes, because the more relevant it is, the higher will be the demand for it.”

Crowdfunding Platform Brings Together Social Entrepreneurs and “Regular Folks” as Investors

A new crowdfunding platform aims to help social entrepreneurs—especially women and people of color—raise funds and give investors the chance to “put their money where their heart is.”

Crowdfund Mainstreet, co-founded by attorneys Michelle Thimesch and Jenny Kassan, is a Regulation Crowdfunding (or Reg CF) platform made possible under Title III of the JOBS (Jumpstart Our Business Startups) Act passed in 2012. The law made it easier for anyone to invest in small businesses through crowdfunding. The law allows entrepreneurs to raise up to $1,070,000 a year in crowdfunding capital.

Thimesch and Kassan have a history of providing legal services to social entrepreneurs. Kassan specializes in helping issuers craft their offerings for maximum results. “We believe that customizing and crafting offerings based on your company, rather than picking something off the shelf, is one of the things that will distinguish the issuers on our platforms,” Thimesch said in an interview with Devin Thorpe, host of the Your Mark on the World podcast.

She said entrepreneurs should go into the crowdfunding process with a comprehensive understanding of their business models. “The more you understand about that, the better equipped you will be to actually craft an offering that makes sense,” she said. “Many entrepreneurs do not understand they have that option because they’re used to the VC world where the investors hand you the term sheet. You are actually in a position to craft your own offering.”

In a video on the Crowdfund Mainstreet website, Kassan said crowdfunding can be a boon to traditionally marginalized entrepreneurs. “Our financial system is really not designed to serve probably 99.9 percent of businesses,” she said. “If you are a woman or a person of color, your chances of getting financing from a bank or a professional investor are even less.”

Women and people of color have traditionally had a harder time raising money for new businesses. Crowdfunding could change that.

Through crowdfunding, this new and more diverse generation of entrepreneurs can create businesses that will make a real difference. “When Title III of the JOBS Act passed, I knew it was a game-changing law,” Thimesch said. “I knew that, in its highest, most exalted state, this piece of legislation could actually serve to revitalize communities and shift money from Wall Street to Main Street, which is what needs to happen to make big economic change in our country.”

Thimesch said Crowfund Mainstreet is designed for “America’s unsung entrepreneurial heroes and the people who want to invest their savings in the kinds of companies that are doing things they want to see in the world.”

Crowdfunding for social entrepreneurship also means you don’t have to be rich to invest in a startup, Kassan said. In fact, many people are already investors and don’t realize it. “When most people think about … an investor … they will often picture, maybe, the people on ‘Shark Tank.’ But the truth is, 99.7 percent of investors in our country are just regular folks. They don’t even think about themselves as investors. They would never call themselves investors. But they are investors. They have mutual funds. They have retirement accounts. These are the investors we want to see on Crowdfund Mainstreet. These are the investors who are able to really put their money where their heart is.”

And the Crowdfund Mainstreet entrepreneurs want to do the same, Themish said. “They’ve gone into business not just for the opportunity to achieve financial security for themselves and their employees but [because] they want something more. They want to leave something behind, a legacy—anything from fixing what’s wrong in a particular industry or revitalizing a local community or propping up those that do not have access to the resources they need for upward mobility. Regulation crowdfunding has the ability to be a revitalization tool.”