ECDI Launching New Program to Incubate Social Enterprises

Over the last 10 years we have all heard of and, most likely, supported social enterprises. Social entrepreneurs are finding ways to create change while building profitable businesses that give back. The Columbus community has embraced social enterprises like Hot Chicken Takeover, Aunt Flow, and our morning ritual, The Roosevelt Coffeehouse. Whether it is job training, access to basic hygiene products, or human trafficking awareness, Columbus has created a robust social impact ecosystem.  

Every business has different needs throughout their lifecycle. ECDI is a trusted technical assistance provider for small businesses that specialize in construction, food, health & fitness, and retail for minority- and women-owned business. Now, they are taking it a step further by providing specialty wrap-around services to social impact organizations out of their Business Innovation Center (BIC).   

ECDI was recently awarded a grant from the Office of Community Services. With this multi-year funding, ECDI will launch a new program, incubating social enterprises at BIC. OCS defines social enterprise businesses as a non-profit or profit-making organization that uses revenue-generating activities to reinvest back into the community or into job creation for disadvantaged populations. 

“ECDI has had the privilege to work with OCS on a number of different projects as grantees over the last several years, and we are honored to have been selected as one of six national award recipients for this new initiative,” said Inna Kinney, ECDI Founder & CEO. “BIC’s newest program will provide ECDI the opportunity to dig deep into and help grow a market this is positively transforming our communities. As we work to develop this new program, we want to make sure we are supporting both the entrepreneur and the employees to create a thriving, equitable community.” 

BIC is an on-site incubator that provides tailored individual assistance, as well as start-up and expansion funding to support the unique needs of all entrepreneurs, and now new and existing social enterprises. BIC’s incubation services are designed to improve the social enterprise businesses’ ability to make their businesses profitable, achieve their missions, and create jobs for vulnerable populations in the urban core neighborhoods of Columbus, Ohio.

ECDI’s BIC is the first of its kind in Columbus, providing social enterprises with access to office space, business development resources, and low-interest debt capital—all in one physical incubation space. 

This award builds on ECDI’s experience serving mission-driven enterprises committed to reducing barriers for vulnerable populations who face significant barriers to employment. The incubator serves existing, start-up, for-profit and non-profit social enterprises, providing them with the following:

  • Access to subsidized office space and professional amenities
  • Affordable start-up or expansion loan capital
  • Access to mentoring services through ECDI’s extensive portfolio of existing social enterprises and partnering organizations
  • Access to the Social Enterprise Hub program director who will serve as a resource by providing technical assistance to clients through individualized business plan development, contract procurement services, and connecting clients to a robust network of community resources
  • Access to a menu of individualized expert support in legal, HR, marketing/social media, and finance
  • Access to workforce development partners and social service providers who will aid social enterprises in their recruitment process and will provide supportive services to new employees, reducing barriers to sustained employment

The social enterprises that take part in BIC will create employment opportunities for individuals who are more prone to long-term unemployment including, but not limited to, formerly incarcerated individuals, refugees and immigrants, those overcoming substance abuse, and those struggling with homelessness. 

For more information, visit ecdi.org.

This mutli-part sponsored series highlighting ECDI’s work in Columbus is presented with paid support by ECDI.

Since 2004, ECDI has assisted Ohio’s entrepreneurs through its one-stop shop business services model, suited to meet the needs of all entrepreneurs, regardless of what business stage they’re in. From providing capital to entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses, to providing focused, business-specific educational opportunities to enhance entrepreneurial skill sets, ECDI works with their clients to meet their unique needs. Whether assisting a new client with a business concept or an accomplished entrepreneur opening a fifth location, ECDI’s “never say no” approach has allowed over twelve thousand entrepreneurs to take advantage of the services it provides. Visit ecdi.org today to learn more.