Growing Rhode Island’s Economy

The Role of Social Enterprise Greenhouse in Rhode Island’s Economic Development
By: Ani Iyengar

Ani Iyengar is a high school intern with Social Enterprise Greenhouse for Summer 2015. He wrote this article about how Social Enterprise Greenhouse contributes to Rhode Island’s economic development, and the role that social entrepreneurs have to play in Rhode Island’s economic recovery.

Social enterprises are businesses with primarily social or environmental objectives. There are several functions that social enterprises could provide to the benefit of their communities. The ways social enterprises differ from traditional businesses can be extremely beneficial to the community as a whole in a multitude of ways.

Social enterprises are inherently innovative and experimental in their approach, which is great for economic development. They are typically are designed to fill the gap in existing services that cannot be provided by the public or private sectors. They also reach socially excluded people by providing volunteer, training and employment opportunities. Through this workforce development, social enterprises fill the knowledge and skills gap in the current employment base. Socially run businesses in neighborhoods can contribute to a sense of local identity, helping develop the self confidence of local people. Lastly, social enterprises are generally set up to retain and reinvest profits into the local economy (cited here).

Social enterprises are particularly important in Providence, Rhode Island for the economic development of the city and state. Social enterprises provide important and sustainable services to the community. Such services include assisting education for public schools, funding local businesses, and recruiting, training, and supporting entrepreneurs.

Social Enterprise Greenhouse plays a key role in the development of social businesses in Providence. The mission of Social Enterprise Greenhouse is to create positive social and economic impacts by supporting social entrepreneurs and enterprises with the tools and networks they need to thrive. Social Enterprise Greenhouse is a network of business and community leaders who contribute time, expertise and money to create positive social change through social enterprise. They achieve this by serving social enterprise and providing entrepreneurs and ventures with the services they need to move from idea to execution. This includes incubation, acceleration later stage strategy and financial services and below market rate loan funding.

The services that Social Enterprise Greenhouse provides to local entrepreneurs are very important in the financial acceleration of Providence. When entrepreneurs are given the knowledge and services they need to become successful, their enterprises prosper as a result. This creates more business and improves the city’s overall economic landscape.

Over the past seven years, Social Enterprise Greenhouse has created over 700 jobs, accelerated 58 ventures, and served hundreds ventures and thousands of entrepreneurs. They have also increased their budget by nearly $400,000.

Social Enterprise Greenhouse plans to continue to expand its scope and services to the ultimate benefit of Rhode Island and Providence as a whole.

Ani Iyengar
Talent Retention Intern

Ani Iyengar is a rising Junior at the Wheeler School interning at Social Enterprise Greenhouse during the summer of 2015. For Ani, social enterprise is a marriage of his aptitude for economics, business and math, and his interest in social justice work through community service.