What Social Enterprise Means to Caitlyn Lee

Caitlyn Lee is a high school intern with Social Enterprise Greenhouse for Summer 2015. At the end of her internship with us, she wrote this essay about how her perspective about how her perspective on social enterprise changed over the course of her internship.

All my life, I wanted to grow up to have an occupation that would have a direct positive impact on people’s lives. Growing up, I realized how lucky and privileged I was being healthy, having a good family, having a good education, and having so many great opportunities. Knowing this, I knew that I wanted to use my knowledge and resources to help others that are not as privileged. With this idea in mind, I thought that the best field for me to go into would be medical. My father is an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon and growing up I would watch him work.

Since I realized my passion, I tried to get myself as involved as I could. After hearing about Social Enterprise Greenhouse and meeting Kelly Ramirez, the CEO, a part of me became intrigued to find out more about the organization. Though it wasn’t medical, I knew that it was a great opportunity and I was ready to experience new things. The definition of social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being. I thought it was amazing how one organization can help so many people and how just one idea such as social enterprise can grow so quickly and become so significant.

This summer, I knew that I didn’t want to spend my days sitting on my couch or “binging” on Netflix. I knew I wanted to be somewhere where I could be useful or helpful to someone. After finding out about Social Enterprise Greenhouse, I knew for sure that it would be where I would want to spend my summer. I interned with Emily Wanderer, Social Enterprise Greenhouse’s Director of Development Programs. I mainly worked on the Social Enterprise Greenhouse Yearbook which helps entrepreneurs find the resources they need to contact mentors, partners, and other entrepreneurs.

Throughout my internship, I learned more about what Social Enterprise Greenhouse does and how it has such a large impact not only locally but globally by helping entrepreneurs start their businesses and making sure they succeed. When I first visited the Social Enterprise Greenhouse Hub, I found out about different companies like Providence Granola Project and Solar Sister and how they help people even on the other side of the world. Providence Granola Project is a great granola company that employs refugees. Solar Sister has a goal of bringing clean technology to even the most rural parts of Africa and their mission is to “eradicate energy poverty by empowering women with economic opportunity.” Both of these companies are helping people get jobs and improving people qualities of life – most importantly, they’re solving social problems and doing good.

A few days ago, I went with Isabella Cassell, the Manager of Food and Health at Social Enterprise Greenhouse, to Hope & Main. Hope & Main is a culinary-based incubator in Warren, Rhode Island. When I first arrived at the factory, I was amazed by the beauty and history of the building. During my tour, I saw all of their kitchens including a certified gluten-free kitchen. I met Betsy Santarlasci, the Interim Executive Director of Hope & Main. I loved hearing her stories of how the Incubator started and what their goals are for the future of the company. She was easy to talk to and shared great advice and information. Visiting the factory was definitely one of the highlights of my internship this summer.

After seeing what Social Enterprise Greenhouse has to offer and seeing so many people being so successful in the social enterprise space, I wondered how I could do the same. I was fascinated by the ways that nonprofit organizations such as Social Enterprise Greenhouse work and how they put lots of effort into maximizing social impact while still keeping control of profits. After meeting all of these amazing and successful people, I finally realized that almost anyone can have a positive impact on the world and that even the smallest (or largest) gestures mean so much to people in need. I realized that being a doctor isn’t the only way to directly have an impact on someone’s life.

Caitlyn Lee

Caitlyn is a rising sophomore at The Wheeler School. Caitlyn is a dedicated student and was chosen to be the Vice President of the Best Buddies Chapter. Outside of the classroom, Caitlyn is an enthusiastic member of the Girls Field Hockey team as well as the Co-ed Golf Team. Caitlyn also enjoys baking and spending time with her younger sisters.

Contact: caitlynlee0516@gmail.com