Entrepreneurs receive funding boost for enterprises addressing social issues

Sam Staley, director of the
DeVoe L. Moore Center in Florida
State’s College of Social Sciences
and Public Policy.

A privately funded competition in partnership with Florida State University is providing a valuable boost to 11 innovative business ventures designed to address problems in communities across the U.S. and the world. These projects have been chosen for monetary awards from the Diehl Family Foundation Social Enterprise Competition to help develop their business plans. They will also compete for first-year operational funding to be awarded later this fall.

Social entrepreneurship is the pairing of the innovative entrepreneurial spirit with humanitarian dedication to solve the social problems facing our world.Each of the 11 projects chosen for the first phase of awards under the Diehl competition has demonstrated a commitment to social change and positive returns to society along with the ability to develop a sound business model for sustainability over the long run.

“These are exciting, cutting-edge programs,” said Sam Staley, director of Florida State University’s DeVoe L. Moore Center, which is administering the Diehl competition. “Social entrepreneurship represents a revolution in the way we think about economic development. These projects exemplify the potential for this new paradigm to have meaningful impacts on communities and build a culture of sustainable entrepreneurship.”

The diversity of the projects reflects the range of needs faced by communities around the world. The enterprises include a California venture to launch new businesses for low-income Latina women to a Tallahassee-based organization that helps researchers combat some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Others address such global issues as child abandonment and slavery, educational access, health care and hygiene, and energy resources. All share a focus on local community empowerment and economic development. Some of the proposals are for new start-ups while others seek support for new initiatives under existing organizations.

The competition, established in January 2013 through a two-year grant from the Ohio-based William and Helen Diehl Family Foundation, also gives a boost to Florida State University’s ongoing initiative to position itself as a national leader in developing students as entrepreneurs and innovators. Entrepreneurs-in-residence are in place as teachers and mentors in the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship as well as the colleges of business, law, criminology and criminal justice, engineering, motion picture arts, and communication and information.

While the primary focus of these existing programs is on entrepreneurial businesses, the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy’s Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation initiative is dedicated to training students to create sustainable social ventures for far-reaching, long-term transformation of society. The DeVoe L. Moore Center and the Askew School of Public Administration, both part of the college, have already offered basic classes to that end, and the college has hired two new entrepreneurs-in-residence for the expansion of its multidisciplinary program in the 2014-2015 academic year.

“The Diehl family is excited to be part of this innovative program at Florida State University,” said foundation spokesperson Peter Diehl, a member of the competition selection committee. “The family has a long-standing interest in promoting entrepreneurship and creative ways to establish sustainable businesses as a way out of poverty. We believe these eleven projects have tremendous potential for meaningful, positive impacts in their communities.”

The projects were chosen from an international call for social enterprise projects that generated 122 proposals. They will now use their award funding to complete business plans to be evaluated by the selection committee. Four or more projects from this group of 11 will receive up to $50,000 to fund their first year of operations. Evaluation teams from the university will monitor the progress of each of the projects, using their experiences to identify best practices for social enterprise start-ups.

The competition selection committee consists of business owner Peter Diehl, nonprofit organization innovator Alyce Lee Stansbury, Harvard University Resolution Fellow Nick Fiore, Tallahassee-based entrepreneur and Domi Station co-founder David Lawson, and Moran Institute Executive Director Randy Blass.

Brief details about the selected projects are listed below. Additional information on the projects, the Diehl Family Social Entrepreneurship Competition, and social entrepreneurship and its role in economic development can be found at socialenterprisecompetition.com and at the DeVoe L. Moore Center website, coss.fsu.edu/dmc, or contact Project Manager Joanna Douglas at jjdouglas@fsu.edu.

Diehl Competition Phase Two Projects: Summaries

1. Bright Kids Ugandais developing a comprehensive system of social enterprises to create sustainable economic development, including agricultural and animal husbandry, a poultry project, educational and volunteer tourism, and a mini-supermarket.

2. Clinic Nepalis developing a village marketplace to bring together a capable community of local farmers and entrepreneurs and give them the visibility they need among the large village development committee.

3. Coalfield Development Corporation is launching Reclaim Appalachia in West Virginia as a for-profit subsidiary to ensure sustainable revenue for on-the-job training in crafting handmade products with reclaimed materials from dilapidated buildings.

4. Compassionate Journeys is creating a sustainable agricultural program to provide jobs for residents in Ghana, particularly vulnerable populations such as single women and widows, and fund programs to serve children rescued from child slavery.

5. ReclaimRx, LLC is a life sciences start-up company based in Tallahassee, Fla., that is developing a Protein Labeling Kit to help researchers more quickly and easily identify potential cures for some of the deadliest diseases in the world today.

6. Winsol Green Power Engineering PLC is developing solar water heaters based on recycled plastic bottles to empower Ethiopian communities to address limited energy resources.

7. Rwanda Works – Kivu Dairy is establishing a small farmer cooperative in western Rwanda to stabilize incomes and generate revenue independently of the informal market for raw milk.

8. Kouzin Dlo addresses the clean water crisis in Haiti through a network of independent entrepreneurs who sell chlorine, educate households on water treatment, test water, and recruit other entrepreneurs with access to different populations.

9. Unspoken Smiles Foundation is launching a line of dental hygiene kits to generate profits for funding the incorporation of dental hygiene within classroom curriculum and improve access to adequate dental care and preventive measures in Haiti.

10. Projects for Haiti is developing a unified program to educate Haitian teachers on state-of-the-art principles for teaching in the classroom and improve proficiency in teaching English, create long-term synergies among these programs, and secure sustainable funding.

11. Women’s Action to Gain Economic Sustainability (WAGES) is establishing a Latina-led cooperative to market paletas (Mexican popsicles) in the high-growth specialty foods industry and launch quality business ownership opportunities for low-income Latina women in the San Francisco Bay Area.