Program Objectives

  1. Introduce the concept of social entrepreneurship
  2. Demonstrate social entrepreneurship in action
  3. Cultivate a passion for participation in social entrepreneurship

Calls to Action

  1. Think where you shop – how can you make an impact?
  2. Support local organizations
  3. Look at your place of work – how can your organization make a social impact or change in our community?

Due to the difficulty that our team had trying to wrap our heads around “what is ‘social entrepreneurship’?”, we decided that the first objective of our program day would be to have an expert come in and kick things off. Dr. Richard Hunt, a business professor at Virginia Tech, got the ball rolling by introducing everyone to social entrepreneurship and how it differs from typical for-profit businesses. He accomplished his goal of covering a lot of material in a brief amount of time, and he really got everyone thinking and kept the mood up-beat by highlighting some of the incredible social benefits that come from entrepreneurship.

After Dr. Hunt set the stage, we wanted to highlight examples of social entrepreneurship that might be more familiar to the uninitiated. To achieve our second objective of demonstrating social entrepreneurship in action, we started with a match-the-mission statement game that got people thinking about businesses they’ve probably shopped at or heard of. Next, to take it further and make it more tangible, we brought in four local speakers to talk about how they do social entrepreneurship in the Roanoke Valley.

  • Isabel Thornton (Restoration Housing) spoke about how her business utilizes historic tax credits to provide affordable housing.
  • Jacob Gibson (Interactive Achievement) highlighted how a for-profit software business upheld its mission to enable all students to learn and achieve in the classroom.
  • Xavier Duckett (Humble Hustle) showed how he merged his two passions, style and helping others – by starting a clothing company to fund his non-profits.
  • Brad Stevens (SIMPLE Roanoke) spoke about his micro-grant program that allows local start-ups to apply for a $1,000 grant to help get their ideas started.

To really let participants get their hands dirty, we adapted the tv show “Shark Tank” and made a game called “Dolphin Tank” (paying homage to a team member’s previous job working with dolphins). Each team was assigned a common issue found in Roanoke and had to develop a business plan that they would then pitch to our panel of pretend investors (the local speakers they just heard from). This proved to be a hit, and the winning team was awarded a fake check that they could have theoretically spent to start their business. More importantly, it got everyone thinking about how to create a solution to a problem that can sustain and fund itself.

Our final objective was to cultivate a passion for participation in social entrepreneurship. One way that this can be done is to support local businesses who put their mission before profits. To do this, we led each team to a different local business where they heard from leaders of that organization about how the business serves and impacts the Roanoke Valley, and the group also got a tour of the facilities. When we reconvened, each group shared what they learned with the other groups.

Finally, to wrap things up on a fun note, everyone loaded back up on the bus to finish the day off at the Deschutes Tasting Room. Our last speaker, Sara Sloan with Deschutes Brewery, highlighted how even a beer company finds ways to give back to the local community by organizing local events, fundraisers, and clean-ups. We then capped the afternoon off with a beer and our calls to action on how to get involved with social entrepreneurship.

Team Members

  • Allison Wolf
  • Elvir Berbic
  • Jay Jones
  • Madeline Sefcik
  • Scott Harriman
  • Suzanne Pierce
  • Tamika Hubbard
  • Tiffany Reynolds
  • Zack Marshall

Team Advisors

  • Amy Matheny
  • Stephanie Frost
  • Tom Smigielski

Speakers

  • Dr. Richard Hunt – Virginia Tech
  • Brad Stevens – SIMPLE Roanoke
  • Xavier Duckett – Humble Hustle
  • Isabel Thornton – Restoration Housing
  • Jacob Gibson – Interactive Achievement
  • Zenith Barrett – Goodwill
  • Rick Morrison – Feeding America
  • Niki Voudren – Habitat For Humanity
  • Sara Sloan – Deschutes Brewery

Sponsors

  • American Electric Power
  • Feeding America
  • Freedom First
  • Goodwill
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Kroger
  • Mill Mountain Coffee
  • Orvis
  • Skyline National Bank
  • Trane
  • United Healthcare