Social entrepreneurship and innovation is a global movement that applies business principles to solve for the world’s most pressing problems. Orlando is rapidly creating a name for itself in the global social entrepreneurship movement. The region already houses a core hub of social businesses, including Arrow Sky Media, Clean the World, CREDO, Fleet Farming, First Green Bank and Limbitless Solutions.
Limbitless Solutions is an innovative social business that affordably 3-D prints custom bionic arms, and has helped over 700 people with these “body powered” devices. Limbitless is opening a new laboratory this Fall located on the UCF main campus, which will fuse engineering innovation with artistic creation designed to inspire, engage, and transform. Organizations like Limbitless Solutions represent the intersection of innovation, industry and philanthropy propelling the Orlando community to the forefront of the social entrepreneurship movement.
In order to support and grow this core of socially minded business, the Central Florida Foundation recently launched the Central Florida Social Enterprise Accelerator. The new Accelerator, a partnership between the Central Florida Foundation and Rollins College, connects social entrepreneurs with business training, mentorship and resources. The program features a six-month “boot camp” designed by Rollins, which features a proven curriculum for social entrepreneurs. At the end of the program, participants pitch their idea and the winner receives a minimum investment of $25,000.
“There isn’t anything like this in the country specifically for social enterprise. What makes our model different is that it includes non-profits, for-profits or hybrid organizations, and it takes people from idea to capital when you consider the accelerator and the incubation component of it,” says Mark Brewer, President and CEO of the Central Florida Foundation said in an interview with WKMG Channel 6.
Not only does social enterprise have a positive impact on social and environmental issues, but the leaders of social business also largely represent individuals from diverse backgrounds. The Accelerator hopes to engage this diverse community and equip with them with the business tools necessary to launch and operate a successful social enterprise.
“Social entrepreneurs — who have a higher percentage of woman- and minority-led businesses as compared to traditional tech startups — face the unique challenge of building both a sustainable business model and driving positive social impact,” said Rob Panepinto, CEO and board chair of the Central Florida Social Enterprise Accelerator.
With strategic initiatives like Central Florida Social Enterprise Accelerator, Orlando is becoming a leader in this movement worldwide. The Accelerator will not only boost the Orlando economy and strength its community, but also broaden Orlando’s global identity as a flourishing hub for social enterprise.