The Rise of Social Enterprise
One definition of intelligence is using the things you have to make tools to solve problems you face. By that criteria, Central Florida has gotten a lot smarter, thanks to the efforts of some local philanthropy leaders. The list of social issues facing our community is long and familiar, and Entrepreneurs In Action is a new way of addressing them.
EIA is an initiative of the Central Florida Foundation that pairs ambitious, action-oriented business people with not-for-profits. About two-thirds of the population of the Orlando metro is under 44. Their buying decisions are partly based on the reputation of a company — such as Tom’s of Maine — for having a positive social impact. Locally, they can be found drinking coffee at Credo (the non-profit coffeehouse that’s like a Kickstarter for community) and volunteering at Clean the World, which recycles soap from local hotels for distribution in the Third World. Central Florida also has a vibrant entrepreneurial community. Put the desire to serve together with business acumen, and good things can happen. Unfortunately, the traditional way of serving — joining the board of a not-for-profit — can be frustrating for those used to the speed of a startup. Nonprofit boards can move glacially, and the distance between discovery of a need and addressing it disheartening.
Rob Panepinto is the current chair of EIA for the Central Florida Foundation. He knows that successful executives want to give back, and when their efforts have an immediate impact, everyone wins. EIA matches executives with organizations that can use their expertise.
Lighthouse Works and Harbor House are two groups that have successfully partnered with EIA, whose business mavens observed the organizations and made recommendations that helped them improve operations: Lighthouse Works employed 42 blind or visually impaired people in addition to 10 people with full sight. They are fully independent and enjoy a quality work environment. The operation
Harbor House was able to monetize valuable content it had been giving away. On a recommendation from their EIA mentor, they created an app doctors use to assess whether a patient has been the victim of domestic violence and access a national database of domestic violence shelters.
To find out more about how EIA can help your organization, or how you can use your business skills to make a difference in the community, contact EIA, https://cffound.org/explore/cff_initiatives/.