Giving for Good: Bryant hosts social enterprise market
Unlike traditional businesses, which focus on maximizing profits, social enterprises generate income to support their social missions. Bryant’s inaugural “Giving for Good: A Social Enterprise Marketplace,” provided an opportunity for these businesses to sell products and share information about their endeavors.
Associate Professor of Sociology Sandra Enos, Ph.D., is intimately familiar with Rhode Island’s diverse social enterprises. She had vowed to “do good” in a more structured way, after informally selling granola made by the Providence Granola Project – of which she is a board member – from her office in December 2014.
“Creating and supporting social enterprises brings together Bryant’s best lessons from Business and from the Arts and Sciences.”
Providence Granola Project Co-founder Geoff Gordon ’08 MBA says that “by making granola, we employ refugees and help them to become fully contributing participants in our society, while also trying to shape the way our society views refugees.” Because students are always at the forefront of any revolution or social change, he adds, Bryant is an obvious market for social enterprises.
Another vendor, Conscious Step, supports international education, clean water, and hunger initiatives by creating and selling colorful socks. The website depicts the founders, including Prashant Mehta ’11, in this way: “They all wore socks… shared a passion to change the world. The result was Conscious Step.”
The daylong pop-up market, sponsored by Bryant’s Social Entrepreneurship concentration, featured a variety of vendors including Oh So Africa Design, an entity established by Associate Professor of Management Eileen Kwesiga, Ph.D. The company imports jewelry made by East African artists and returns profits to East African nonprofit organizations.
Vendors were positive about the Bryant marketplace, held in the University’s Rotunda. Enos believes future events would benefit from greater student involvement, where each vendor might be assigned a student to help promote the event, staff the booth, and manage inventory.
This year, Spencer Bratman ’16, the marketplace’s chief student organizer, created a website and invited vendors to participate, while Brianna LaGuardia ’19, assisted on the day of the event.
Students in the spring semester’s Applied Seminar in Social Entrepreneurship class, including Bratman, will evaluate the business opportunities associated with creating pop-up markets at schools, houses of worship, and large corporations, says Enos. “Creating and supporting social enterprises brings together Bryant’s best lessons from Business and from the Arts and Sciences.”