Posts Tagged: theme

What is social enterprise?

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And how does it relate to this year’s theme: “Dare to Create?”

In a previous blog post, TEDxGrandviewAve organizer Kacey Wherley defined “create” as “to start something new.” She also stressed that it was not so much about the act of being creative, as it is about taking that first step to create.

That resonated with me, as I thought about how much that theme, as well as TEDx more broadly, this year’s featured speakers, and the stories they’re telling relate to the drive to create social enterprise.

People ask constantly, what do you mean by social enterprise? Is a non-profit a social enterprise? Is our local food co-op a social enterprise? These are complicated and loaded questions, because the term “social enterprise,” just like the word “sustainability,” often means something different to every person or organization who uses it.

However, though it carries many different meanings, at Idea Foundry, we define social enterprise as using responsible, ethical, and accountable business to create sustained, impactful, and positive social change. We consider market-driven solutions to the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges the most compelling form of social enterprise, mainly because like all for-profit businesses, they are revenue generating, which makes them financially sustainable, and therefore more impactful, over the long run.

There are so many terms for this: “triple bottom line;” “profit with a purpose;” “business for good;” “conscious capitalism;” and the list goes on. What they all have in common, though, is that they represent this specific type of wide-reaching, innovative, and replicable solutions that spread economic, social, and environmental benefits through our communities. For-profit social enterprises are often elegant models for how we can create a more just and sustainable world through business.

Now, while not all TEDx speakers are social entrepreneurs, especially by the definition laid out above, many of them are. (For example, Thread International, the company of Ian Rosenberger, one of this year’s speakers, was one of the first social enterprise ventures Idea Foundry supported.) This is because social enterprise at a very basic level harkens back to Kacey’s definition of “create,” or to start something new. At its core, social enterprise is designing new solutions to old problems, executing unique ideas that disrupt the status quo in the name of social good.

Social enterprise often starts with a person who is acquainted with a problem, often in their own community, and often on a deeply personal level, such as poor air quality, substandard public transit, widespread unemployment, recidivism, or unequal access to healthy foods. Social enterprise results when that person has the drive to solve that problem, is not afraid to try something new, knows what it takes to accomplish their goals, can rally others around their passion and ideas, and has the courage to just go for it.

So as you’re enjoying this weekend’s TEDxGrandviewAve festivities, my question to you is: What will you do to change the world for the better? What will you Dare to Create?


Guest post written by Nicole Muise-Kielkucki, manager of social enterprise initiatives at Idea Foundry. Idea Foundry is a sponsor of TEDxGrandviewAve.

To learn more about social enterprise in Pittsburgh,  follow us on twitter at @InterSectorPGH. 

What does Dare to Create mean?

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by Kacey Wherley, Founder & Director

TEDx team












create (cre•ate)
⁃ to bring (something) into existence
⁃ to make or produce (something)

When you think “creative,” you may think of painting, drawing, or design. But the act of creating goes way beyond that. To create is to do something new. For TEDxGrandviewAve 2014, we want to dig deeper and explore what it’s really like to create.

Creation isn’t always a new piece of art, construction of a new building, or a global revolution of ideas. It’s all of those things, plus more. It’s thinking in a new way. It’s taking what we all thought we knew, and creating a different perspective. Creating really is what you want it to be.

How did you come up with the theme?

Pittsburgh was built by creators like Carnegie and Warhol. A new breed of creation has taken over and the city’s on the rise again. Every time I look online, there is a new development project, a new restaurant, a new company getting a national award, a new idea being built – whether it be on land or in the cloud. Last year, we explored the Edge of Innovation. We dove into some really deep issues, and learned a lot about potential medical, social and industrial technologies. We even looked at how a local mayor is innovating his town.

For 2014, I knew I wanted the audience to explore the subject of creating. Not necessarily being creative, but taking that step to create. I went back and forth with words and phrases. On a trip to visit family in Ohio, my Mom and I were driving and discussing the next event. I told her my thoughts about the new theme but that I just couldn’t find the right words to fully embrace what the event would be about. As I sat there and rambled on and on, my Mom said, “What about…Dare to Create.”

It hit me – I liked it. I really, really liked it. But, I thought – did my Mom just explain my own words better than me? And I kept thinking that. The team kept brainstorming and we kept asking friends for suggestions in every conversation. But one kept sticking…Dare to Create. We decided that would be our message to the world from Pittsburgh in 2014.

One lesson I learned from this part of the event – Mom really does know best.