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Highlights 10.3

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  • Rolfe Larson
    Highlights is the monthly newsletter of the npEnterprise Forum, the 7500-subscriber online community and official listserv partner of the Social Enterprise
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 1, 2012
      Highlights is the monthly newsletter of the npEnterprise Forum, the 7500-subscriber online community and official listserv partner of the Social Enterprise Alliance. This edition highlights a recent discussion about low skill, low capital social enterprises.


      The Social Enterprise Dining Map http://goo.gl/MxrcF has grown to more than 100 restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, ice cream stores and catering services in the US and Canada. Soon, in a new partnership with the Kibble Education and Care Centre http://bit.ly/AcGkPS of Scotland, the dining map will soon include eateries in the UK and Australia as well, on its way to becoming a global directory.

      We're also in the process of creating an Apple Store app, which will include the dining map, the SE Shopping Guide http://bit.ly/qsDUzN and other listings as well. This will allow you to find the nearest SE -- cafe or otherwise -- or order products from an SE, with a few quick clicks on your mobile device. Now with more than 30,000 visits to these guides, we're thinking this transition to the app world will make them even more accessible, and, most importantly, help increase sales for SEs.

      But first these guides need to be updated before they enter the app world. So please take a look at them, and let us know of any edits or additions that are needed. They were created via crowd sourcing, and so we need some more crowd sourcing help to update them. Thanks!

      Finally, we're planning to create an SE service provider guide, to list trainers, consultants, lawyers, accountants, and so on, that provide technical support to SEs. So please drop us a line if you'd like to be included in that guide.


      Here are some of our recent blogs:

      * State of Social Enterprise: 2012 http://goo.gl/NwAfB
      * Business Plan in A Weekend? http://bit.ly/ymOrDg
      * Why So Many Startups Fail http://bit.ly/yVuOhg
      * Congress Gets Crowdfunding, finally http://bit.ly/ydV60p

      * What is NOT a social enterprise? http://bit.ly/uqMPTR
      * ShoreBank Demise Dissected: Too Good to Fail? http://bit.ly/twZgLp
      * Alternative Legal Structures http://bit.ly/tL5OiZ
      * Case Study: Value Chain Improves Profitability http://bit.ly/t3hvhk


      Do your local nonprofits need fresh income streams to increase their impact and sustainability? Help them diversify beyond the "Let's Get a Grant" box!

      Bring The Grantsmanship Center's dynamic, interactive two-day Social Enterprise for Nonprofits training to your community http://bit.ly/AwYrKP. Participants will learn how to:

      * Approach social enterprise in a way that supports their organization's mission
      * Evaluate a social enterprise opportunity
      * Develop, grow, and diversify an earned income revenue stream

      Partner with the Grantsmanship Center by hosting this workshop at your facility. Then send one or more of your staff members to this dynamic, interactive training at no cost! The trainers are Rolfe Larson and Michael Whitehead-Bust.

      Contact: Barbara Floersch, Barbara@..., 213-482-9860.


      For those engaged in the social media world, you can "follow" or "friend" the npEnterprise Forum there too.
      On Twitter we post the "Best of npE" compilations and other choice nuggets at http://bit.ly/rDB4ac
      On our unmoderated Facebook page, you can initiate discussions and instantly post events, promotions, and job openings at http://on.fb.me/vvyJ9B


      Here are the responses to a question from Derek Mitchell from Lowell MA seeking examples of SEs "with opportunities to scale which would provide many low-skill positions and relatively low capital investments."

      (1) From Geoff Archer, Professor at Royal Roads University

      My suggestions include edible mushroom farming and MRFs (Materials Recovery Facilities.)

      (2) From Jonathan Wade, Collaborative for Innovative Social Enterprise Development

      Groupe Convex, located just east of Ottawa, Canada, has a series of social businesses that operate in recycling using low-skill positions, and
      significant warehouse space. You may want to speak with them. http://bit.ly/waRTIM

      (3) From Matthew Shelley, Greyston Foundation

      It's great that you want to start a social enterprise that can benefit your organization. Although availability of operating space is a plus, the ability
      to identify a business need in the marketplace that your business solution will support is critical. You will also need to size the target market (i.e., customers) and develop 3+ year projections to get a sense of how the business can trend. It's also really helpful to see how a 5% swing in revenue (in either direction) will impact your three year financial projections and whether you
      will be in a position to absorb such losses during the infancy of the business.

      My suggestion would be to retain the services of a local small business development center (usually SBA-funded and associated with local colleges) and/or a consultant, if you can afford one, to explore the fundamentals associated with development of a business opportunity that is in demand in the
      marketplace. Also, as an FYI, Greyston Foundation recently went through a similar process of identifying and vetting opportunities to pursue relative to
      development of our next social enterprise. (Our consultant was Rolfe Larson Associates.)

      Regarding "de-manufacturing", we thoroughly explored the "mattress recycling" concept. It is intuitively appealing but appears difficult to make work without some level of initial and potentially ongoing government support. That said, there are interesting examples nationally of organizations that are doing this if you want to see what folks are up to in this area.


      Discussions in the npEnterprise Forum are made possible with your questions and comments. Why not take a few moments to send in a note? We'll be looking for you! Send your question to:


      Be sure to send your email "from" the email address that currently subscribes to the npEnterprise Forum. Please note that there is sometimes a backlog of messages, so be sure to allow at least a week for your message to go out to the list, and another week or so for responses.

      - Rolfe Larson, owner/editor, npEnterprise Forum
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