The finalists for the 2022 Social Enterprise of the Year Awards presented by The Metropreneur and SocialVentures show the diverse range of forms that social enterprise can take. From creating employment opportunities, to donating profits and building communities for underserved populations, each has a profound impact on Central Ohio (and beyond!).
Join us at Aspire 2022 on Thursday, October 20 as we crown this year’s winners of the Emerging Social Enterprise of the Year Award and the Social Enterprise of the Year Award. Learn more about each of the exceptional finalists below.
Emerging Social Enterprise of the Year
The Emerging Social Enterprise of the Year Award recognizes local for-profit businesses, independent nonprofits or businesses of an existing nonprofit with a socially-driven mission that are in the early stages of their business development or operations.
A joint project from Service! Relief for Hospitality Workers and the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, Cafe Overlook advocates for service-industry workers, while helping to eliminate financial insecurity, strengthen the local workforce, and improve opportunities for advancement in the restaurant industry. The social enterprise cafe on the 16th floor of the Franklin County Courthouse provides innovative workforce development programs that include a living wage and health benefits, plus wrap-around services like child care and transportation support. Since its opening in March 2022, Cafe Overlook has provided opportunities for 30 plus low-income individuals, and helped to address barriers that would impact individuals’ ability to maintain steady employment. Additionally, one individual has moved on to a new position at another restaurant – a major goal of the program.
For more information, visit cafeoverlook.org.
Petals That Inspire
Inspiring creativity and empowering members of the community through floral design, Petals That Inspire has a wide-ranging model that includes residential and business floral subscriptions, special event floral orders and floral design classes. Petals That Inspire’s workshops with residents of Star House, which provides services for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, help individuals entering or re-entering the workforce develop the soft skills needed for success. Participants have gained confidence in themselves, showcased leadership skills by helping new participants, and assumed responsibility and accountability in their work in a flexible and creative setting. It’s been a milestone year for Petals That Inspire, as the social enterprise has opened its first brick-and-mortar mortar location, hired its first employee and been able to host weekly workshops with Star House guests in their space.
For more information, visit petalsthatinspire.com.
Taking artists’ work out of studios and storage and into the real world, Rela has created a new distribution model for the local art market. Rela turns any space into an art gallery through its low cost, low commitment subscription plans that help anyone display original art in their commercial or residential spaces. Saving spaces from blank walls and mass-produced artwork, Rela is a win-win, putting artists’ works in front of individuals that might not otherwise interact with it, while building consistent monthly earnings for creators through subscription fees as well as additional sales. Rela is focused on accessibility, visibility, sustainability and engagement, resonating with the 50 plus artists that have signed on to be part of the platform.
For more information, visit rela.art.
Social Enterprise of the Year
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.
Keepsake T-Shirt Quilts & Blankets
For over 20 years, Keepsake T-Shirt Quilts & Blankets has been creating jobs for deaf individuals in a communication barrier-free workplace. Launched in 1999 as a social enterprise of non-profit Deaf Initiatives, Inc., the Keepsake team has hand crafted more than 10,000 custom t-shirt blankets and quilts, employing 77 individuals throughout the years. A testament to the work environment that Keepsake has created for a population that is historically unemployed and underemployed, the social enterprise’s current employees average more than 11 years with the team, while a quarter of the staff have been with Keepsake for over 20 years. The epitome of social enterprise, Keepsake masters a dual outcome: running a successful, strong, viable business while at the same time furthering the mission of Deaf Initiatives.
For more information, visit tshirtquilts.com.
Roosevelt Coffeehouse & Roasters
A cup of coffee to fight the injustices of hunger, unclean water and human trafficking, Roosevelt Coffeehouse and Roasters’ impact is felt around the globe. Launched as a coffee shop in 2015, Roosevelt has grown to two stand-alone shops, plus a licensed location, and started roasting its own beans in 2018 to further support its social enterprise mission of donating profits. Overcoming the challenges of the pandemic that opened Roosevelt up untapped revenue streams like direct-to-consumer sales of their beans online, the organization collectively donated over $26,000 that impacted nearly 4,500 individuals in 2021. Through its donations, Roosevelt has helped cross items off non-profits’ wishlists, provide meals and clothing for homeless and low-income individuals, and support survivors of human trafficking. That support extends to Roosevelt’s supply chain, allowing their producers to partner with organizations that provide subsidies for small business, education, job training and healthcare.
The first and only coworking space and leadership incubator in Ohio created by and for women of color, Zora’s House works to dismantle barriers of systemic racism and sexism, and to ensure the full participation of women of color in the civic, economic and cultural life of Columbus. Built on a vacant lot in Weinland Park in 2018, Zora’s House has provided a safe space for over 3,000 women of color to incubate their businesses; activate their leadership in their families, communities and workplaces; connect with mental health resources; navigate job losses and other COVID-19 related transitions; and gain financial empowerment and confidence in just a four-year span. Flexible and affordable membership options and hundreds of hours of programming designed to connect, empower and elevate women of color drive Zora’s House.
For more information, visit zorashouse.com.
Aspire 2022 will be held on Thursday, October 20 from 6 – 9 p.m. at COhatch Polaris, 1554 Polaris Pkwy Suite 325. The evening will feature networking and a keynote interview with Sheri Chaney Jones and Charly Bauer of Measurement Resources, along with the awards ceremony.
For more information and to purchase your ticket for Aspire 2022, click here.