It’s Social Enterprise Week in Minnesota. So What?

If you haven’t heard of social enterprise, you’re not alone.

Interested in having custom honey at your wedding? You'll feel good when you buy it from the Beez Kneez.  Photo w/founder Kristy Allen

Interested in having custom honey at your wedding? You’ll feel good when you buy it from The Beez Kneez — a local social enterprise that advocates for bees. Photo: founder Kristy Allen

But last year, Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak proclaimed the week of May 19th to be Social Enterprise Week.  So did St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman — and Minnesota’s Governor Mark Dayton!

Why? It’s not business as usual — it’s about businesses that focus on social-purpose too.

So this week, please make a special point to buy from a local social enterprise.  

When you buy from Peace Coffee the profits fund international agriculture and trade policy. When you buy from The Wedge, Linden Hills, and Seward Co-Ops you know they do more than traditional grocery stores; they evaluate the ecological, economic and social impacts of their business and their communities.  When a business buys services from Momentum Enterprises, they can then hire people with challenging problems and give them paid on-the-job training.

These purchases strengthen and expand our economy in ways that buying from traditional businesses do not, creating a win-win for our community.  Social enterprise products and services do double duty (double and triple “bottom lines”).  And you’ll find social enterprises in practically every type of business: recycling, online retailing, job placement, and a whole lot more.  Many of them are household names, but there are plenty of start-ups in the past several years.

Buying from a social enterprise is an easy way to put more of your money to work doing good.  Let’s make Minnesota a social enterprise leader!!

WHERE TO BUY GUIDE: a sampling of local social enterprises

The Arc Value Village Profits from the Twin Cities best thrift store raised $2 million to support children and adults with disabilities.  They even have a concierge!

Beez Kneez Honey House*  Buy from this social enterprise that delivers honey by bike!  They are tireless advocates for bees and offer education classes, which are going on right now.

Birchwood Café*  This “good real food” restaurant goes the extra mile to advocate for healthy food systems, supports local farmers, pays living wage salaries — and is 100% wind powered. Having raised $100,000 through a Kickstarter campaign, they reopened just in time for Social Enterprise Week!

Eat For Equity  People meet for dinner and give what they can: the meeting place, the ingredients (local, organic, fair-trade), food-prep, and money. The proceeds are donated to nonprofits. Check out their local events or “Collaboration-Kitchen” training. Launched in Minnesota, it’s spreading across the country.

Full Cycle  Need to fix your bike — or buy a refurbished one? Your purchase supports young people experiencing homelessness with paid internships, street outreach, food shelf and more.

Latitude Prints  When you buy business cards, brochures, or banners online, 50% of the profits support empowering women and children living in extreme poverty.

Midtown Global Market  This cultural marketplace supports economic development in diverse communities. If you’ve never been there, you’re in for a real treat.

Now Boarding When you use their pet airport boarding, doggy day care and training facility, profits go to fund the Animal Humane Society’s mission.

 

Unfortunately there isn’t a master list of all social enterprises. Not yet!  So where can you go for more information?

Social Impact App lists a few local social enterprises (and many across the country).

Social Enterprise Alliance TC hosts events where you can meet social entrepreneurs.

Minnesota Business often features social enterprises (sometimes called social ventures).

I hope this inspires you to “start seeing social enterprises.”

At Mentor Planet, we specialize in mentor-matching social entrepreneurs and social innovators.  I’ll be posting interviews with social entrepreneurs, start-ups, innovation and more!