Why Rhode Island is the Ideal Place for Social Entrepreneurs

Rhode Island is an ideal place to start and run a social venture. Here at Social Enterprise Greenhouse, we’re working hard to make Rhode Island the Silicon Valley of social enterprise. Here are just some of the reasons why:

  • Concentration of colleges & universities
    • Rhode Island has the highest per capita concentration of colleges and universities in the country. This concentration of brain power makes it an especially appealing place for social entrepreneurs, whose ideas are more forward-thinking and academic in approach than those of traditional entrepreneurs. Being surrounded by smart people means that social entrepreneurs have a greater chance of being understood than in other places. They also have a greater chance of making connections with supporters and like-minded individuals than in other cities. Colleges and universities are a talent and support resource. Entrepreneurs can tap into current students for internships, recent graduates for staff positions, faculty for mentorship, and programs for research-related activities. Entrepreneurs could continue their education with an advanced degree or take advantage of the speakers that colleges and universities attract. Social Enterprise Greenhouse works with all 11 colleges and universities in Rhode Island.
  • Proximity to larger metro areas
    • We are less than an hour from Boston and less than five hours from New York. You can take a meeting in Boston in the morning, a meeting in New York in the afternoon, and be home in time for dinner. Boston and New York are both hotbeds of investors, clients, sponsors, and financing.
  • Low cost of living
    • You can enjoy the resources of larger metro areas without the price tag. This is especially important for an entrepreneur because it extends the “runway” – the amount of time your startup can go without making money before being able to cover its costs – and increases the amount of funds that can be invested in the business itself.
  • High quality of life
    • As the Ocean State, Rhode Island has an excess of natural beauty and attracts tourists year-round. The sailing in Rhode Island is world-renowned, and a state-wide trail system is open to bicyclists, runners, and joggers. Providence has been cited to have the #1 Food Scene in the country, and Rhode Island has the highest concentration of restaurants per capita. For entrepreneurs, having the ability to stay healthy and maintain an active social life staves off burnout and contributes to venture success.
  • Tight-knit community
    • Rhode Island is small, and that’s a strength. It’s easy to know everyone, and it’s easy to meet people who are important to making things happen. Entrepreneurs value a strong community because they need the support to get their ideas off the ground. In Rhode Island, you can stand out instead of being a small fish in a big pond.
  • Access to policy makers
    • Our elected officials are accessible and easy to reach. Social entrepreneurs often are tackling issues of policy, and the cooperation of local and state officials can be crucial for venture success.
  • Test market
    • Rhode Island is known as a test market. Our demographics are middle of the road, making the state a fantastic place to test if an idea or product will be successful nation-wide or even globally. Entrepreneurs need to be able to test their ideas, make changes, and then re-test. This process is know as “rapid iteration,” and is do-able in Rhode Island on a human scale.
  • B-Corp filing
    • Rhode Island was an early adopter of the B-Corp legislation, making it possible for corporations with social missions to legally incorporate here. Social Enterprise Greenhouse houses the three B-Corps in the state, bringing this tight-knit community even closer together. Social entrepreneurs can incorporate as a B-Corp and enjoy more favorable tax benefits and regulations that are conducive to social enterprise. It is our goal to make Rhode Island the Delaware of the B-Corp filing.
  • L3C filing
    • Rhode Island is one of only 11 states in the country that has the L3C filing available. Known as the “Social Enterprise LLC,” this filing allows businesses with social missions to accept low-interest loans from foundations to enable their growth. Social Enterprise Greenhouse was instrumental in passing this legislation.
  • The SEEEED Act
    • A Rhode Island representative introduced the first federal piece of social enterprise legislation in 2013. Social Enterprise Greenhouse continues to be instrumental in legislation and regulatory reform that favors social entrepreneurs.
  • Social Enterprise Greenhouse
    • Social Enterprise Greenhouse, one of the most robust social enterprise ecosystem’s nationally,  has built a strong track record in helping to launch and grow do well do good businesses in our community over the last six years. We bring money, technical assistance and networking opportunities to Rhode Island’s high potential social entrepreneurs.  The 215 companies that we support have created more than 1000 jobs. Our 58 Accelerator graduates have created 300 jobs, and positively impacted the lives of 300,000 people.  Our co-working space, the SEG Hub, just opened in April 2015, already provides a home base and support services for over 80 social enterprises. Over 500 hundred social entrepreneurs leveraged our technical assistance and/or networking services last year to help launch and scale their ventures and impact.  Our university program has connected hundreds of students with internship and research opportunities at local ventures.   


Learn more about why Rhode Island is the perfect place to be a social entrepreneur by reaching out to us at info@segreenhouse.org or by reading more below.


Relevant Works:

Rhode Island Ranked Top 10 Most Emotionally Balanced States

Cost of Living Calculator

Entrepreneurs find college towns profitable growth mediums

Rhode Island Tax Incentives

Why Rhode Island? By Commerce RI

Entrepreneur Providence