Over 125 community members gathered Thursday evening at Long Street Studio and The Roosevelt Coffeehouse to celebrate social enterprise in Columbus.
The Metropreneur’s Aspire 2017 brought together social enterprise owners, resource providers and community supporters to hear a keynote interview from Bryce Butler, founder and managing partner at impact investing firm Access Ventures. Butler shared more about the Louisville-based firm’s investment approach, and discussed the rise of social impact investing. Detailing local investments in Hot Chicken Takeover and Kiva, Butler also discussed their beginnings in residential real estate in their hometown, and other partnerships and investments across the country. The discussion closed with a look at what success looks like for social enterprise. As consumer interests turns towards transparency, Butler envisions a world where “social” or “impact” are dropped, and socially-conscious is just good business.
Aspire 2017 also highlighted the social enterprises impacting the Central Ohio community through the Social Enterprise of the Year Awards. In partnership with SocialVentures (formerly The Center for Social Enterprise Development), three awards recognized the many stages and structures of social enterprise.
Growlers Dog Bones was awarded the first-ever Emerging Social Enterprise of the Year Award for their growing sales and measurable social impact through employing young adults with disabilities. The award honored local social enterprises operational for under a year and included additional finalists Aunt Flow and Bottoms Up Coffee Co-Op.
Shining a light on the for-profit businesses of local, established non-profits, Equitas Health was award the first Non-Profit Sustainability Award for the success of its Equitas Health Pharmacy. Zero Waste Event Productions and Furniture With a Heart Rounded out the field of nominees.
The fifth annual Social Enterprise of the Year Award included three finalists with businesses operational for over a year that are making a measurable impact in the Columbus community. Hot Chicken Takeover was crowned the winner for its ability to demonstrate financial success while creating meaningful impact, as well as owner Joe DeLoss’ efforts to advocate for social enterprise. HCT was joined by finalists She Has a Name Cleaning Services and The Roosevelt Coffeehouse.
A special thanks goes out to our event partners, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce and SocialVentures, and all those who attended. Keep reading The Metropreneur for the latest on the social enterprise community in Columbus. We look forward to seeing you at Aspire 2018!
All photos by Kirk Caudill unless otherwise noted.