Lending a Hand to Social Enterprise

Social enterprise is growing in Denver, and in the spring, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce partnered with a Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation Impact Denver project team to launch a training program for social enterprises – Sprout Tank: Growing Social Enterprise.

Sprout Tank is a pitch-focused event (think “Shark Tank”) with a twist: all the businesses are social enterprises. The program launched in April with 10 social enterprises. Each participated in a competitive training program to hone their business concepts and pitching skills, gain exposure and build connections. The program was made possible by the PIN Business Network, Alpine Bank and the Land Title Guarantee Company.

After months of training, four Denver-based entrepreneurs pitched their social enterprises to an audience of judges, lenders, investors and community members. Aley Desiderio of the Bridge Effect, an online employee perk program connecting parents, employees and childcare providers to create affordable care options, won the competition and a $2,500 prize.

“I’ve done three accelerator programs and I got the most out of this one. Not just financially,” Desiderio said. “We have actual financials, we have a pitch deck that’s professional, and that’s a result of your coaching and you being part of our business.”

Desiderio was among three other outstanding social enterprises, including the People’s Choice winner, Activate Workforce Solutions, a Denver-based company that helps businesses discover, retain and develop motivated and loyal talent in hard-to-fill and high-turnover jobs, as well as finalists KyndHub and Swag for Good.

Providing valuable training and exposure to social enterprise was possible through the partnership with an Impact Denver project team.

“Social enterprise is becoming a prominent business model in Denver, which is why we wanted to implement a training program for these businesses to get the help they need to get off the ground,” said Laurie Troge, executive assistant of the Denver Metro Chamber and Impact Denver project partner. “Having a passionate Impact Denver team helped us develop this new program and allowed us to truly provide valuable training for the participants.”

The Impact Denver team walked away with a better understanding of how social enterprises are changing in Denver. Do you know what makes a social enterprise? Click here to learn more.

“Social enterprise is so crucial; we’re witnessing the rise of for-benefit corporations, those who account for others in the community and have a platform for mission-driven companies to have an impact,” said Jon Jenkins, Impact Denver team member. “Along the way, we really learned a lot about what social enterprise is: organizations that want to do good in the community. They want to support and they have a socially driven mission.”

Are you a nonprofit with a project on your to-do list? Submit a nonprofit project proposal by July 7 to partner with an Impact Denver team.

Sprout Tank project team of the Impact Denver 2017 class: Reed Bowen, director of business development, Fransen Pittman General Contractors; Eric Brunette, vice president of operations support, Syncroness, Inc.; Jacklyn Devine, director of community outreach, Alpine Bank; Niki Herrera, Reisher scholarship assistant officer, The Denver Foundation; Jonathan Jenkins, commercial real estate broker, Ecospace Real Estate; Jessica Palffy, senior manager, college and STEM initiatives, DSST Public Schools and Sarah Wanek, senior consultant, Breo Solutions.