May 2, 2008
Contact: University Relations
The University of Baltimore's Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center has been selected to host the mid-Atlantic chapter of the Social Enterprise Alliance—a national community of lenders, investors, educators, grantors and others seeking to explore the enormous potential of non-profits and for-profits in resolving serious issues on a global scale via the social entrepreneurship movement.
Once the chapter elects a board of officers and is accepted by the SEA, it will help the national organization advance the goals and activities of social enterprise throughout the mid-Atlantic. In addition to establishing a board composed of SEA members, the new chapter also will adopt bylaws consistent with the national organization, develop a strategic plan with a three-year lifespan, organize and direct committees, host public events related to education and networking for social enterprise, and submit an annual report. According to the SEA, it will be the organization's second chapter. The first is located in St. Louis.
Jim Kucher, executive director of the entrepreneurship program in the Merrick School of Business and leader of its Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center, said UB was honored to chosen by the SEA to house the chapter, and will use this as another tool to continue to encourage more involvement in this growing movement from the greater community. The chapter will spark a period of strong initiatives, special projects and outreach in support of the long-term success of social enterprise, he said.
"This is another sign that Social Enterprise has moved beyond a fad and is quickly becoming a key tool in driving a new economic model where profit and purpose don't conflict, but collaborate toward a greater good," Kucher said. "UB, the center and our entrepreneurial activities are helping to increase awareness, understanding and participation in this movement, but it’s really the entrepreneurs who play the key role in giving social enterprise its energy and inventiveness. The chapter further legitimizes all of these efforts, and shows that we’re beginning to have a big impact beyond the city."
Kucher said the chapter will not "belong" to UB, but the University will play an important role in growing a regional network for social enterprise.
"We have an impressive slate of activities and solid expertise in support of this community, and that will serve as a starting point for the chapter," he said. "Our campus's easy access to Washington, D.C., New York and other metropolitan centers along the coast makes it an even better fit."
The movement, which has evolved from grassroots agencies affecting change in incremental steps to whole companies and industries—some call it a "fourth sector" of the global economy (the other three being public, private, and traditional non-profits and non-governmental organizations)—is fostering a fundamental change in the social order akin to the civil rights movement.
Fourth-sector entrepreneurs are leveraging the potential to realize lasting change on a worldwide scale, addressing millennia-old issues like hunger, poverty and social inequality in ways never before seen in history. Their "for benefit" model—prompted by a social purpose, self-sustaining, and creating and distributing products and services that improve quality of life, add jobs and stimulate the economy—calls for market generated profits that are then turned back to be invested to advance a social mission. These entrepreneurs are determined to put all of their energies into resolving entrenched social issues while reducing dependence on traditional grant and gift funding methods.
From those in the early exploratory stages to multi-million dollar ventures, the community of social enterprises covers the spectrum of social missions and includes both nonprofits and for-profit companies as well as organizations exploring hybrid forms that combine the advantages and goals of both sectors.
"SEA chapters will help to accelerate market-based strategies for social change in communities across the country through the emergence of a robust local support system for social enterprise," said Social Enterprise Alliance President Kris Prendergast.
The Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center, part of the Merrick School of Business at UB, is a growing campus-based venture designed to support local entrepreneurs as they continue to move into the economic mainstream of the city, the region and beyond. The center is supported in part by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, The Citigroup Foundation and Stuart and Faye Silberg.
The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the School of Law, the Yale Gordon College of Liberal Arts and the Merrick School of Business.