Social entrepreneurship, where for-profit businesses seek to offer creative solutions to our society’s biggest needs, has become a rising trend across the country. Last year, Detroit was home to the nation’s first social entrepreneurship competition, which attracted more than $1-million in new investment for a diverse group of new businesses that focus on such issues as energy efficiency, affordable medical devices, and coffee roasting.
The competition was put on by Michigan Corps with the help of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. It was such a success that they’re holding a second Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, and have recently begun taking submissions.
Elizabeth Garlow, the executive director of Michigan Corps, says the effort began last year as communities around Michigan faced a number of challenges, ranging from unemployment to blight. The competition was launched to reach out to entrepreneurs who could have a positive impact in the area. Out of over 300 ideas, ten entrepreneurs were chosen as winners.
Amy Peterson is the the co-founder of Rebel Nell, a jewelry company that was one of the winners in last year’s competition. At Rebel Nell, they use graffiti to create jewelry and offer a transitional opportunities in employment for underserved women.