Philadelphia should own social entrepreneurship: presentation for Knight Foundation, others

Because it has the infrastructure of a major market with mission-orientated for-profit and nonprofit groups and because it has all the big problems that other cities face, Philadelphia should be the country’s hub of social entrepreneurship.

Defined as ventures that put impact over profit, I again spoke about this cause, this time at an event with the Knight Foundation, the Delaware Valley Grantmakers and 30 other industry leaders at the University City Science Center last week. See the presentation I gave here.

See the Technically Philly coverage of the event here.

It was a variation of this presentation, which built off this post on why Philadelphia’s regional distinction should be social enterprise.

“Every problem is an opportunity to build ventures for solutions, scale them and export them to other cities,” as Generocity quoted me as saying. I followed a stirring 20-minute review of the 30-year development of social entrepreneurship, as given by Cheryl Dorsey, the president of the noted New York City-based Echoing Green.

To move the effort forward, we’ll be working on broadening the regional stakeholders who see this as a sensible distinction for Philadelphia and working to build in and build up the mission in organization’s based in and around this city.

After presentations, there was a large group discussion, led by the Knight Foundation’s Donna Frisby-Greenwood, on ways to move forward the effort, concepts that were drilled down in more specific ways in smaller groups. See notes from the discussions here [PDF].

In organizing the event, I came across new organization I hadn’t known had roots in Philadelphia, including an annual sustainability-focused social entrepreneurship event and Halloran Philanthropies, which focuses on social ventures.

It occurred to me that it was more than a year ago that I was beginning to really think about the need for a stronger sense of regional entrepreneurial identity. We needed hungry entrepreneurs and if Philly already has some of them, we need them to be hungrier, bolder and sell the region’s assets more.

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