In New York City, there’s a distinctly happening social entrepreneurial world with startups, established players, co-working locations, crowdfunding sites, even heavy-weight impact investors like J.P. Morgan Chase. I’ve written about a few of them, for example, Return on Change, a crowd-funding site for social enterprises; the Centre for Social Innovation, a co-working space for social entrepreneurs; and BlocPower, a triple-bottom-line company that aims to help low-income young black men find jobs while helping small businesses to install solar power. (I just wrote about them last week).
But while there’s quite a significant ecosystem, to employ an over-used buzz word, the world is also very fragmented.
That’s why a group of social entrepreneurs are teaming up to run a first-ever conference for social impact players in all five boroughs. Called MakeImpactNYC- the tagline is “make good in your ‘hood–the event is scheduled for Jan. 16, 2014, at the Fordham University Graduate Business School campus in Manhattan.
“We realized there is a network of disparate people completely disconnected from each other,” says co-founder Monika Mitchell, founder of Good Business New York (Good-B), a site for social entrepreneurship and sustainable business news. “We need a connective tissue to bring everyone together. (In Mitchell’s previous life, she was a recruiter for Wall Street, including traders in mortgage-backed securities).
Other organizers include Amy Cortese, author of Locavesting and an expert on the movement to invest in local businesses, and Sang Lee of Return on Change, among others.
The schedule includes a few components. The keynote speaker will be Katie Hunt-Morr, director of values and impact at Etsy, the online marketplace that is one of the area’s better known social enterprises. Then there will be panel discussions on such topics as “nurturing and accelerating social entrepreneurship in NYC”, how to leverage the city’s unique position in the arts, media and design to affect social change, food and social enterprise, and financing alternatives.
Sprinkled throughout will be short TED-like talks with such people as David Thigpen, co-founder of Corners2Cornerstones, a social entrepreneurship program for ex-offenders, who came up with the idea for the enterprise when he was in prison, and Reshma Saujani, CEO and founder of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit aiming to close the gender gap in programming.
The last event will be a “battle of the boros”, a pitch contest for social enterprises up to 24 months old–they can be for-profit, nonprofit or hybrid–from each borough. One winner will be chosen by a panel of judges, another will be selected by audience members on their smart phones. (Can’t escape American Idol‘s influence even in the social entrepreneurial world). Winners will get cash prizes donated by local businesses and sponsors, as well as in-kind marketing, strategy and advisory services.
The application deadline for anyone who wants to compete, by the way, (here’s a link) is Dec. 31.
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