Two meetups to offer "speed dating" mentorship connections for social enterprise concepts

Cincinnati’s entrepreneurial community fosters many opportunities for networking and mentorship. A new effort is targeting social entrepreneurs with two meetups on Nov. 19.
Social Enterprise CINCY, produced by Flywheel Social Enterprise Hub, will host the events to bring together mentors and social entrepreneurs for a speed-dating type program.
“There are lots of definitions of what social enterprise is,” says Bill Tucker, executive director of Flywheel. “We look at it pretty broadly and consider social enterprise to be a business that is built around the notion of serving some common good. That can range from an organization like the Freestore Foodbank’s Cincinnati Cooks to a company like Nehemiah Manufacturing.”
Flywheel was created specifically to work with nonprofits that wanted to explore the idea of social enterprise in order to provide mission-related funding which would reduce their dependence on grants and philanthropy. Social Enterprise CINCY was established to broaden that ecosystem.
“Social entrepreneurs tend to exist within silos: for-profit, nonprofit, faith-based,” Tucker says. “We believe there is value in creating connections between all three types of social entrepreneurs and bringing them into relationships with other community leaders.”
The two meetup events, one at 8:30-10:30 a.m. at Community Blend Coffee in Evanston (featured in a recent Soapbox story about co-ops) and the other at 5-7 p.m. at Japp’s in Over-the-Rhine, are open to anyone interested in starting or scaling a social enterprise business. Mentors are also being sought for the event, specifically individuals with experience in accounting, marketing, finance, operations or a general business background.
Participants will complete a quick questionnaire, either before the event or at the door, to assess the skills they need or the skills they can share. The event itself will run like a speed-dating program, with entrepreneurs meeting a number of potential mentors trying to find a good fit. The meetup part of the program will be followed by a general networking session for all attendees.
“We want to start bringing people together,” Tucker says. “Our hope is that we can put the attendees in a relationship with someone who can make a difference in their lives, either as a mentor or social entrepreneur, and that we can bring more mentors to the social enterprise sector.”
These meetups grew out of the Social Enterprise Week and Summit hosted by Social Enterprise CINCY in September.
“We consider Social Enterprise CINCY to be an ecosystem builder similar to Cintrifuse,” Tucker says. “Cintrifuse supports an ecosystem around entrepreneurship with a technology focus and profit motivation; they’re the backbone of venture capital and the startup community in Cincinnati. Social Enterprise CINCY wants to promote the same type of energy, connection and sense of community among social entrepreneurs.”
Tucker hopes some of the meet up attendees will have ideas that could eventually land them in business accelerator programs like Bad Girl Ventures, ArtWorks’ Co-Starters or Mortar.
“Cincinnati is a really unique place with so much energy around businesses that are designed to support the common good,” Tucker says. “We want to bring together for-profit, nonprofit and faith-based social entrepreneurs to elevate the impact of their work with business, civic, and government leaders in order to build sustainable business ventures and enrich the fabric of our community.”
Although the Nov. 19 meetup events are free, advance registration is required.

Read more articles by Julie Carpenter.

Julie Carpenter has a background in cultural heritage tourism, museums, and nonprofit organizations. She's the Executive Director of AIA Cincinnati.  
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