The 2016 Great Social Enterprise Pitch is underway in Lancaster, and 10 contestants have been selected.
The Pitch, a business plan competition for social enterprise ideas, is hosted every year by ASSETS Lancaster and the Lancaster County Community Foundation.
A social enterprise is a business that aims to have some sort of positive social or environmental impact, or a for-profit or nonprofit business that uses the power of the marketplace to address social issues.
The competition is similar to The Voice, except instead of singing, local entrepreneurs are pitching business ideas.
This year’s pitches offer some new ideas, as well as ideas from existing businesses in Lancaster County.
Nights out, new clothes
Soberbars, which operates in Lancaster, is among the pitches selected for this year’s competition.
The enterprise’s founder and CEO, Kyle Kuehn, aims to have a positive impact by providing an environment where people recovering from addiction can enjoy a night out without being surrounded by the typical bar scene.
Kuehn’s pitch is timely, as Pennsylvania has the ninth-highest rate of overdoses in the U.S., and efforts are underway to help people enter recovery.
Sophie Stargazer Boutique is another existing business in this year’s competition. Owner Kristin Snyder is transitioning her women’s fashion store into a social enterprise by selling ethically made products.
Lixin Ji, owner of Ebenezer Wholistic Foods and East Side Community Kitchen, will pitch her raw vegan food company this year as a way to provide people with healthier food and lifestyles.
- LaShonda Whitaker, Whitaker Family Child Care: An enterprise that will supply healthy, local food for early childcare facilities.
- Saba Williams and Olayinka Credle, BirdOrganics: A manufacturer of ethically-produced, natural, hygienic products.
- Luis Miranda, BootCamp900: A wellness initiative to develop a fitness and wellness center that is focused on improving the health of low income communities while providing high quality employment opportunities.
- Heather and Michelle Long, WIN Workplace Solutions: A manufacturing company of portable spaces that employers can provide to their female employees who need to pump breastmilk in the workplace.
- Will Kiefer, Bench Mark B-Fit: A wellness initiative to empower and train at-risk youth to become personal trainers in corporate settings.
- Timbrel Adidala, Lush Bazaar: A fashion provider that employs underprivileged women so that they feel empowered and have jobs in a stable environment.
- Trish Haverstick, The Farm Stand: A mobile-farm agribusiness that provides healthy, affordable produce.
Now that 10 contestants have been chosen, they will spend May through August in weekly meetings, where they will focus on fine-tuning their ideas and creating business plans.
After that, the contestants will launch crowdfunding campaigns, and people will essentially vote for their favorite idea by donating money to the campaign.
The months of preparation culminate with a live competition.
Last year’s winner, The Stroopie Co., is slated to open a brick-and-mortar store downtown in time for the Memorial Day weekend.