Published 01/02/18

Shoppers examine goods for sale at Social Change Marketplace

The annual student-run Social Change Marketplace is a unique shopping venue, offering customers an opportunity to support important social causes and learn more about key issues around the world.

Social Change Marketplace makes a difference

Bryant’s third annual Social Change Marketplace provided holiday shoppers more than the opportunity to buy heartfelt, unique gifts; it also gave them a chance to support important social causes and learn more about key issues around the world.

“Why would you want to just buy a T-shirt that has no meaning behind it when you could be buying gifts that tell a story, impact the community, and help make a positive social change?” asks event organizer Brianna LaGuardia ’19. “Social entrepreneurship is about companies that both do good and do well.”

 “This is a great example of social entrepreneurship and an innovative way to prepare a new generation of leaders and business people."

The marketplace began in 2015 as a class project, an opportunity to put social entrepreneurship learning to work in the real world. The students, guided by Associate Professor of Sociology Sandra Enos, Ph.D., handled everything from managing vendors to planning the layout of the market to arranging outreach efforts. The successful inaugural event, “Giving for Good,” featured six vendors, each representing an organization that sought to make a difference.

Since then, the marketplace has grown to 20 vendors, including groups like Conscious Step, which supports international education, clean water, and hunger initiatives, and The Harvest Kitchen Project, a culinary and job-readiness training program for youth involved with the Division of Juvenile Corrections.

The marketplace is expanding beyond the Bryant campus as well, with plans to hold similar events at Fidelity, Bank of America, Hasbro and the Campus Compact 2018 National Conference.

“Every year, it amazes me how far the marketplace has come,” says LaGuardia, who leads a committee of ten dedicated students, “and it’s really exciting to see where it’s going.”

“This is our third year here and it’s absolutely amazing,” says Monika Montrymowicz, the Director of Strategic Partnerships for Beautiful Day, a Providence-based granola company that provides practical on-the-job training for refugees. “This is a great example of social entrepreneurship and an innovative way to prepare a new generation of leaders and business people by introducing them to important social causes.”

The event also featured two kick-off presentations, one focusing on the journey behind creating a nonprofit as a college student, the other centered around socially responsible restaurants.