The Importance of Social Enterprise

Role of Social Enterprise Greenhouse in Providence’s Economic Development
By: Ani Iyengar, Social Enterprise Greenhouse Talent Retention Intern, Summer, 2015

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 more likely to innovate and experiment they 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. 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 the city of Providence. Social enterprises could use traditional businesslike tactics to provide important services for the Providence community. Such services could include assisting education for public schools, funding for local businesses, advertising for start up businesses, and more.

Social Enterprise Greenhouse plays a key role in the development of 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. The organization 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 will be very important in the financial acceleration of Providence, as well. Once entrepreneurs are given the knowledge and services that they need to become successful, their enterprises will prosper. This creates more business in the city of Providence, and will gradually improve the city’s economy. Once Providence as a city has more income as a result of social enterprises like Social Enterprise Greenhouse, they will be able to give more funding to education to students at a younger age.
The contributions of Social Enterprise Greenhouse on the Providence community is quite apparent. Over 4 years, they have created over 700 jobs and 100 ventures. They have also increased their budget by nearly $400,000. The organization aspires to reach even more by 2016, and their continued growth could have a resounding impact in the future of Providence. In the future, Providence could become a city with many large, successful businesses and a much larger economy.

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.