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Annual social enterprise contest underway in Lancaster

Contestants hail from wider area

Ten teams hoping to advance their social enterprises are competing for over $50,000 in cash prizes as part of an annual business plan competition hosted by two nonprofits in Lancaster County.

The competition, the 2018 Great Social Enterprise Pitch, is sponsored by Assets and the Lancaster County Community Foundation. It is in its fifth year.

A social enterprise is a for-profit or a nonprofit entity that uses the power of the marketplace to address social issues by delivering a triple bottom line focused on people, planet and profit.

Ideas this year must connect to at least one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals. They include ending poverty, improving people’s health, ensuring access to quality education and achieving gender equality.

Ten teams were selected from a pool of 38 applicants to participate in the contest, which includes a four-month series of educational sessions led by Assets focused on business planning. 

As a new feature this year, participants were invited to apply from throughout Central Pennsylvania. Among the participants are residents of Lancaster, York, Berks, Lebanon and Dauphin Counties.

One participant, Savannah Thorpe, said she’s excited to learn about running a business and to collaborate with her fellow participants. Thorpe’s concept is a laundry service aimed at helping moms profit at home by doing other people’s laundry. 

“Whether it’s the people they want to employ or the people they want to serve, the other participants and I want to improve people’s lives through our business ideas,” Thorpe said. 

In September, each contestant will launch a crowdfunding campaign to generate awareness and money.

Five concepts from the educational sessions are selected internally, said Jonathan Coleman, co-executive director at Assets. Crowdfunding results are only one of the deciding factors, he noted.

Contestants will then be invited to pitch their ideas to a live audience.

The winner receives over $50,000 in cash prizes and pro bono services from local businesses. 

The participants

1. Emerson and Nora Sampaio, Hubub: Aimed at connecting language, culture and food. 

2. Aiyana Ehrman and Michelle Kime, Imagine Goods Sustainable Supply Co.: A goal of selling clothing produced by survivors of human trafficking.

3. Carl Phinney, Opportunity Construction: Construction company that hires people with barriers to employment for living-wage jobs.

4. Savannah Thorpe, The Laundry Ladies: A laundry service that helps moms make money from home by doing other people’s laundry.

5. Andrew Mayers, Let’s Click Technology: An idea to bridge the digital divide through technology education and empowerment.

6. Adam Porter, Provisions: An independent grocery store in Harrisburg whose goal is to increase access to healthy food and reduce waste.

7. Rochelle Williams, Rebelchique Dance Co.: Dance company offering classes in underserved communities.

8. Aimee Ketchum, STEM Starts Now: A digital program for parents to provide STEM skills to their children.

9. Marietta Scanlon, Jason Lehrer and Tito Orjih, Trimatis: Converts plastic waste into 3D printer filament using a patent-pending technology.

10. Peter Pappalas, World Brand: Replacing popular plastic consumer products with biodegradable alternatives. 

Shelby White
Shelby White covers banking and finance, law and Lancaster County for the Central Penn Business Journal. For tips, email her at [email protected].

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