Monthly Archives: June 2011

Building a Local Ecosystem to Promote and Expand Social Enterprise

The Social Enterprise Alliance was created in response to a conversation among conference attendees who believed that people working in the field needed a focused forum to connect and share their experiences. It has since grown to become a national resource and advocacy organization with 11 local chapters.

Anne Wunderli serves as board chair for the Massachusetts chapter of SEA. The chapter is building a rich “ecosystem” for professionals who are engaged in social enterprise, offering a variety of free events and activities across the state. In addition to promoting knowledge among practitioners, SEA-Mass works to educate policymakers about ways to advance the field, such as state adoption of the L3C business structure.

Public education is also on the long-term agenda — to help people better understand what social enterprise is and the value it provides. “It’s an exciting message to be able to share,” Anne says. “And I think it resonates very strongly when people hear it.” Anne says that consumers will prefer to have their dollars go to an organization with a social mission, but she understands that the mission alone isn’t enough to sell products or services. “We have to be true competitors in whatever market we’re operating in.” SEA-Mass is working to help socent businesses succeed in the marketplace and achieve their social impact goals.

Click the audio player below to listen to Anne’s interview and learn more about SEA-Mass.

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Connecting Consumers and Business to Improve Communities

After working on a CSR project in Costa Rica, Mike Norman was inspired to find a way to encourage the business community to expand its participation in social change activities. So he founded SoChange.com — a customer loyalty platform helping consumers support businesses that implement social change projects.

Visitors to the site purchase gift certificates that can be used at a local business that has agreed to a SoChange “challenge” project. Recent challenges have focused on areas such as creating jobs for at-risk youth and reducing a shop owner’s carbon footprint. The company has recently begun a larger challenge in support of 350.org’s campaign encouraging the U.S. business community to focus on climate change issues.

“We all have the power to convince business to be more socially and environmentally responsible,” says Mike. SoChange helps consumers join together to exercise that power with their purchases, engaging business owners to make a positive impact on local communities and the world.

Click the audio player below to listen to Mike’s interview and learn more about SoChange.com.