Six outstanding new Connecticut-based social enterprises, led by entrepreneurs in a range of businesses and industries, earned public recognition – and cash prizes – at the Third Annual Social Enterprise Awards held by reSET, the Social Enterprise Trust. Nearly 200 people were in attendance for the awards ceremony, held at The Society Room in Hartford.
There were 54 social entrepreneurs from across the state vying for recognition in the 2013 Social Enterprise Challenge; applicants were narrowed down to 10 finalists who were evaluated by a panel of business experts.
The top five social enterprises were honored at the Social Enterprise Awards celebration for having the best and most sustainable social enterprise business plans, and for effectively demonstrating that their businesses could improve the community and create jobs, and generate both purpose and profit.
reSET also honored the renowned social enterprise Honest Tea with the reSET Social Enterprise Innovator Award for its community impact and corporate conduct, which has inspired others. Honest Tea values simplicity, fair dealings, partnerships, the environment, and sustainability. Dr. Barry Nalebuff, Milton Steinbach Professor of Management at the Yale School of Management, and co-founder of the company, accepted the award on behalf of Honest Tea, and conducted a presentation outlining the company's early years and evolution.
The winners of the Social Enterprise Challenge were:
Ray Xiong, New Haven, Farmivore (The Boehringer Ingelheim More Health through Innovation Award) Farmivore offers community supported agriculture co-ops with affordable e-commerce and marketing platforms, and provides consumers with an easy way to search, pay for, and join a community supported agriculture program. Ray.firstname.lastname@example.org
Lon Seidman, Ivoryton, Windsor, and West Hartford, Independent Media Network, LLC (The reSET Community Impact Award) Independent Media Network provides training sessions and informational meetings with community members while providing accurate and valuable information to the community, in order to preserve independent media. email@example.com
Leslie Krumholz, Guilford, Good Streets. Good Streets is a social enterprise that brings Main Street businesses on line to help consumers find great local establishments. Neighborhood business owners and customers can use this trusted site and in so doing receive authentic reviews, which helps to create dialogue and collaboration between local businesses and their customers. firstname.lastname@example.org
Rodger LaChance, East Windsor, Yummy CT. Yummy CT takes a farmers market and puts it on an old school bus to help distribute fresh, Connecticut- grown fruits, vegetables, and specialty foods to Connecticut communities that are considered food deserts. The objective is to provide fresh healthy foods to communities that otherwise would have limited access. email@example.com
Dr. David Shearer, Old Saybrook, Therapeutic Research Foundation. TRF’s mission is to develop innovative, affordable, and therapeutic medical solutions to address the unmet global health needs of all people, even the solutions considered less profitable by other mainstream medical research companies. firstname.lastname@example.org
For the first time this year, reSET added an award to reflect the community’s voice through a People’s Choice Award. The public was able to vote on their favorite among the 10 finalists by viewing videos created by finalists and posted on reSET’s website. The People’s Choice winner was:
David J. Rubin, Simsbury, ElectroSpin University. ElectroSpin University is promoting a healthier, more fit, and eco-friendly culture through a one-of-a-kind group indoor cycling class titled Rage and Recharge that uses electric dance music to make playlists scientifically designed to improve exercise efficiency. The team is also working on ways of recapturing energy expended through exercise and pumping it back into the community’s electrical grid. rubin@electroSpinu.com
“reSET was so pleased to celebrate the accomplishments of entrepreneurs across Connecticut who demonstrate a deep commitment to helping out communities become safer, happier, and healthier places for all of our citizens,” said Program Director Michelle Cote. “Each awarded business reinforces the idea that it is possible to generate profit and serve a social purpose at the same time.”
In the spirit of growing social enterprise in Connecticut, “A Taste of Social Enterprise” also celebrated locally-grown food and featured local farms and businesses that served up a menu showcasing Connecticut-grown foods, from the Kitchen at Billings Forge and The G Stream.
reSET has supported the launch of 19 new social enterprises in Connecticut and supported the success or growth of nine social enterprises. reSET has also established the Social Enterprise Investment Fund, which will begin to offer loans to investment-ready social entrepreneurs in January 2014.
Photo: Dr. Barry Nalebuff accepts the reSET Social Enterprise Innovator Award from reSET CEO, Kate Emery. [Editor's Note: CT by the Numbers is a member of the Independent Media Network.]