Finalists Announced for 8th Annual Social Enterprise of the Year Awards

Through one-for-one models, employment opportunities, donating profits and more, social enterprises use their business models to tackle some of society’s biggest challenges.

The Metropreneur, in partnership with SocialVentures, will once again be recognizing the impact of socially-conscious businesses on the Central Ohio community (and beyond!) through the Social Enterprise of the Year Awards. Learn more about the six finalists vying for two awards, with winners to be announced during virtual event Aspire 2020 on Wednesday, September 30.

Social Enterprise of the Year Award

The Social Enterprise of the Year Award recognizes social enterprises of any structure with a social mission and demonstrable impact, that have also helped to give social enterprise a name as a way to do business in Central Ohio.

Besa Promise

Founded in 2012, Besa has connected 50,000 plus volunteers to over 8,500 community projects, creating more than $22 million in impact. The non-profit launched its social enterprise, Besa Promise, in 2016 to further that impact by helping large companies maximize and manage their philanthropic efforts. Through Besa Promise, companies like Jeni’s, CoverMyMeds, Big Lots and L Brands have access to curated, personalized volunteer experiences, assistance with organizing their annual grantmaking, and an online platform that helps associates learn more about the work and needs of local nonprofits and track volunteer hours.

Addressing immediate and increased needs of nonprofits during the coronavirus pandemic, Besa has helped to organize supply drives and provide relevant information and safe ways for community members to activate their good, from hands-on work to virtual opportunities.

For more information, visit givebesa.org.

Fortuity Calling

Fortuity Calling’s large-scale outsource call center creates better career and wage advancement opportunities for people living in low-opportunity Central Ohio neighborhoods. Their Franklinton call center on West Broad Street has the capacity to create 500 plus job opportunities for neighborhood residents. When many “good” job opportunities are located in suburban communities outside of 270, Fortuity is focused on building career paths in urban neighborhoods accessible by public transportation. Fortuity will work with Franklin County’s Peopleworks program and Franklin County JFS to benchmark employees’ socioeconomic level and eligibility for social services, with the goal of  advancing their household income by 30-40% within two to three years.

Fortuity was in its first weeks of business when the pandemic struck, but thanks to its technology, never missed a client call. The social enterprise was even able to implement a new client, and hire, onboard and train new agents, virtually, while staff were all working from home.

For more information, visit fortuity.com.

Mod Squad

Mod Sqaud is helping Central Ohioans live in safe and accessible homes, both through its services and the support it provides for non-profit Modcon Living’s Safe at Home program. Launched in 2018, Mod Squad provides handyman service for homeowners and businesses in Franklin County. The social enterprise has grown steadily, adding a part-time employee and is looking to further scale as demand for its services continues to grow. In part due to revenue generated through Mod Squad, Modcon’s Safe at Home program was able to serve 131 vulnerable low-income senior and/or disabled homeowners in 2019, repairing or replacing 29 furnaces and completing 27 special volunteer projects.

As an additional community resources, Modcon Living operates a tool library, supporting sustainable homeownership in communities by providing cost effective methods for home repair and maintenance for low- to moderate-income families. Members rely on the Tool Library not only for home repair projects, but to grow food for their families.

For more information, visit modconliving.org.

Social Enterprise Coronavirus Pivot Award

The Social Enterprise Coronavirus Pivot Award recognizes social enterprises that made a significant shift or pivot in their operational model to continue to support the community and make an impact during the coronavirus pandemic. 

L.A. Catering

Every boxed lunch, holiday party, birthday and wedding catered by L.A. Catering helps to support the older adults, medically challenged and disabled individuals that LifeCare Alliance serves through its nutrition and health programs. Since 2001, L.A. catering has continued to distinguish itself in the catering world, serving food on trend with the culinary and event world. In 2019, the caterer’s $1 million plus in sales allowed for approximately 90,000 meals to be served to the clients of LifeCare Alliance.

Facing an event industry decimated due to the coronavirus pandemic, L.A. Catering was able to shift its team to support LifeCare Alliance’s Meals on Wheels program, which was seeing an increased demand of 60% due to the pandemic. L.A. Catering retained its full-time staff to help with preparing, packing and delivering meals to those in need

For more information, visit la-catering.com.

The Roosevelt Coffeehouse & Coffee Roasters

The Roosevelt Coffeehouse and Coffee Roasters uses coffee as a vehicle to fight the injustices of hunger, unclean water, and human trafficking both locally and around the world. Since opening its first shop on Long Street Downtown in 205, the Coffeehouse has expanded to a second location in Franklinton and started roasting its own beans in 2018.

As the shops faced major hurdles due to the dine-in shutdown, the roaster found a way to pivot while supporting front-line workers in the community. Roosevelt launched a program to donate one bag of coffee to healthcare professionals for every bag purchased. Customers also had the option to buy bags at a discounted rate to be supplied directly to healthcare workers. Though the program, Roosevelt donated over 1,800 bags of coffee.

For more information, visit rooseveltcoffee.org.

Zero Waste Event Productions

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Zero Waste Event Productions provided waste management and diversion services for festivals and events aiming to divert as much as possible from the landfill through composting and recycling. Faced with a world without events due to mass gathering restrictions, ZWEP had to make the decision to put things on pause and regroup in 2021, or find a way to make an impact. Taking the opportunity to pursue an idea they had wanted to explore, ZWEP built a setup for small-scale plastics manufacturing. Using recycled, shredded plastic, ZWEP has been producing face shields which they are providing for free to local professionals in need.

ZWEP will continue to explore other options for goods they can create out of recycled plastics, like partition barriers. While addressing an immediate community need, the addition of plastics manufacturing has also provided a long-term solution for ZWEP to diversify its revenue stream, also providing more stability in what can be a seasonal business.

For more information, visit zerowastefest.com.

Aspire 2020 will make its virtual debut at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 30. Aspire 2020 is made possible with support from SocialVentures, Barnes & Thornburg and ECDI.

Aspire will be a donate-what-you-can event, with a suggested donation of $5. Those who donate $15 or more will be eligible to win a Social Impact Box from SocialVentures, featuring products from local social enterprises. To register for the virtual event, click here.