A group of hopeful social entrepreneurs took their first step toward turning their ideas for products or services into businesses that benefit people and the planet at the Social Business Plan Workshop hosted by the Fresno Pacific University Center for Community Transformation (CCT).
This year saw the largest workshop yet, with 38 people signed up for the September 4, 2019, event at Fresno’s Bitwise South Stadium. Participants represented a cross-section of social and ethnic groups and ranged in age from teens to 60s. Part of what presenter Andrew Shinn called a “new wave of capitalism.” “(This) has the potential to reshape and bless the lives of many, many, many people in the area,” said Shinn, MBA, FPU business instructor and founder of The Craft of Entrepreneurship.
Among the ideas presented were a reforestation business, a commercial kitchen supporting low-income food entrepreneurs and a host of businesses with a social cause at their heart. Carlos Huerta, CCT program director for community initiatives, emceed the event, which sets up the 8th Annual Spark Tank Social Enterprise Pitch Fest in November. Enterprises started by Spark Tank Award winners have generated $3.7 million over the past three years and put to work people with barriers to employment. Those interested in pitching at Spark Tank need to submit their application by September 30, 2019. Download the submission requirements and template from the CCT website at cctfresno.org/social-enterprise/.
Imogen “Gigi” Sands, a junior high school student, is looking forward to running her own bakery in a way that benefits the local economy as well as people with a sweet tooth. “I would like to help farmers and get my ingredients from small, stable, organic farms,” she said.
Alyssa Ndombeson is interested in starting a business to reduce waste. “My goal is to reduce the amount of waste that consumers produce by introducing low-package to no-package options,” she said.
The best part of the workshop was connecting with the others with like minds and similar goals but different abilities, according to Ndombeson. “A lot of people that I know have a lot of skill sets,” she said.
The CCT connects the strengths of FPU with the resources of the region to transform cities. Part of the Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, CCT supports entrepreneurial creativity, spiritual freedom, economic vitality and justice, environmental integrity, cross-cultural/social collaboration and political health in the Central Valley. “This event is one more way the CCT seeks to meaningfully connect the university with the communities of the Valley, through innovation, in ways that bring shalom,” said Randy White, D.Min., executive director of CCT and associate professor of community transformation at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.