11 social ventures mark their graduation from our annual Impact Accelerator by pitching their business to an audience
It was 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 30, and the Hub at Social Enterprise Greenhouse in Providence was packed. Great socializing and tasty food and drink were a big draw, but the real attraction was still to come. Three months ago, a group of social entrepreneurs had enrolled in SEG’s Impact Accelerator program, and after journeying through a custom curriculum, one-on-one coaching from experienced mentors, and a lot of hard work, they were all ready to graduate. Their last assignment? Create a two-minute business pitch to present to the crowd.
The purpose of the SEG Impact Accelerator is to help create more successful, sustainable ‘do well do good’ businesses in Rhode Island. The graduates were nervous but excited. They had submitted their slides and practiced their messaging. Everything they had done to build their business over the past 12 weeks would culminate tonight.
The audience was excited, too. Some of them were alums of SEG’s Accelerator themselves and were now piloting successful social enterprises out in the world. Some were members of SEG’s volunteer network, local business leaders who regularly share their time and expertise with developing ventures. Friends and family were prepared to cheer everyone on.
SEG Impact Program Manager Austin Wilson took the podium, and the room quieted. After thanking the advisors, coaches, and workshop instructors who had contributed to the Accelerator, he handed the mic to Kim Anderson, an SEG board member and partner at EverHope Capital. “I want to say congratulations to all of the folks who are graduating tonight,” she said. “You had an idea, and you came to the right place to grow it.”
Kim offered the graduates this advice:
- In addition to working hard, you will need to be resilient. Every single day there might be something that could knock you down. Resiliency is a muscle, so start flexing it.
- Don’t be so in love with your idea that you fail to pivot if the market requires it.
- Your team is the most important thing.
- Keep in touch with SEG and pay it forward.
With that, the first venture stepped up to the mic, the slides advanced, and the pitches began. We congratulate our 2019 Impact Accelerator grads and can’t wait to see what they do next. Read about them below!
1 PVD Cycling is a local nonprofit that provides youth opportunities through the sport of cycling that inspire confidence, create a broadened sense of community, and promote an active, healthy lifestyle. 1 PVD Cycling brings together Providence high schoolers from all backgrounds and helps them overcome the numerous barriers to participation in competitive cycling, be they financial, technical or cultural. Entrepreneurs: Donny Green and Katie Fairhead
THE ART OF FATE is the first online marketplace to shop for womxn-owned brands from around the world – all in one magical place. Our mission is to provide womxn with a platform and the resources they need to grow successful businesses and to ultimately invest more wealth in the femxle economy. Entrepreneur: Jackelyn Dacanay
InnateFive’s mission is to foster healthier, equitable and strengths-conscious workplaces where individuals and entrepreneurs can unleash their potential by embracing their innate talents and strengths. Our social commitment is to bring strengths-based education to high school students in urban schools in Rhode Island. By helping youth to discover their innate talents, we are providing them with vital knowledge and tools to increase their chances to thrive in school and in life. Entrepreneurs: Claudia Cardozo and Javier R. Alfonzo
Jessica Ricci Jewelry’s FOUND collection transforms artifacts collected around the world into jewelry to give jobs to mothers who have faced incarceration, homelessness and/or addiction, and have found themselves on a new path of hope and economic security with their children. Entrepreneur: Jessica Ricci
Kai’s Kloset features one-of-a-kind, fashionable, affordable clothing and accessories designed by individual artists from recycled materials. The business also provides opportunities for positive self-improvement and a platform for environmental and community concerns. Entrepreneur: Kai Cameron
The Key Yoga and Wellness Initiative is designed for corrections professionals to address the physical and mental health risks associated with working in this field. We offer yoga and meditation to cultivate self-knowledge, awareness, and emotional intelligence. Entrepreneur: Mary Joseph
One Gun Gone takes one gun off the street, makes art from that gun, and sells that art to buy more guns off the street. Important in this process is students’ positive exposure to people, places and careers they might otherwise not encounter on their own. Entrepreneur: Scott Lapham
Refuge Impact Investments invests in refugee-owned and run businesses, with the goal of creating an online peer-to-peer lending platform that connects refugees who need access to capital with people who are interested in creating impact through their investments. Entrepreneur: Carolyn Cannella
The Sweet Home Project RI is a startup nonprofit helping mothers coming out of hardship create a home full of pride, inspiration, safety and comfort. Through donations, they furnish, decorate, offer organizational guidance and encourage lifestyle reflection. Entrepreneur: Kendra Morales
Violet’s Village changes young lives by changing minds. We educate youth about the full history of Africa and its diaspora and connect them with training related to organic living, getting back to the earth, healing through the arts, community engagement, and much more. Entrepreneur: V Raffini
Zarephath Water Enterprise will produce bottled water purified to the highest quality for communities in Nigeria using solar energy. The pH of the water will be alkaline, close to the nature of body fluid, as well as enhanced with minerals to boost metabolic activities essential for healthy living. Entrepreneur: Viola Egbuniwe
The 2019 Impact Accelerator was funded in part by the RI Department of Labor and Training’s Real Jobs RI initiative, Cox Business, Island Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, and Verizon. The program is also made possible with the support of SEG’s network of 300+ volunteer coaches and advisors, many of whom are business and community leaders in Rhode Island.