The Student-Led Social Entrepreneurship Committee of the UA Clinton School of Public Service will host a panel discussion titled “Building Better Communities Through Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship” on Thursday, April 21, at CALS Rock It ! Laboratory in downtown Little Rock. The event will be available to attend in person or virtually.
The free event, hosted in partnership with the ReMix Ideas organization and the Urban League of Arkansas, is scheduled for Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and will include unique perspectives and insights from social enterprise leaders in the Mid-South.
The Committee defines social entrepreneurship as a business model associated with intentional social impact, which involves individuals, organizations and businesses “intentionally working to maximize positive social and environmental impact rather than prioritizing profits alone”. . National examples of the social business model include Tom’s Shoes and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream; while locally, Tacos 4 Life, Urban Food Loop and Me.Mentor are all examples of social entrepreneurship.
“The event is focused on building better communities through innovation and social entrepreneurship,” said sophomore Madeline Burke Clinton School student and co-chair of the social entrepreneurship committee. “There will be time for networking and a round table. Our goal is to raise awareness of social entrepreneurship and cultivate more engagement in this area.
The Committee believes that social entrepreneurship plays an important role not only in economic growth, but also in social justice and inclusion.
Kwami Abdul-Bey, a Clinton School freshman who co-chairs the committee with Burke, explained that in April 2020, the World Economic Forum launched its COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs stating that social entrepreneurs are essential first responders to effectively and effectively challenge local systems of social injustice and racial inequality, and that championing social entrepreneurship is part of the global goals of the UN Decade of Action 2020-2030.
“Our event is the operationalization of this narrative here in Arkansas,” Abdul-Bey said. “How can the Clinton School be at the forefront of not only creating but sustaining a strong and impactful push to increase the implementation and scale of social enterprises, here in Arkansas, who challenge local systems of social injustice and racial inequality?”
Event panelists include Jessica Andrews, social innovation program manager at the University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation; Shafin Khan, vice president of external affairs and innovation at the University of New Orleans Research Foundation; Ryan Ramkhelawan, vice president of business development at Start Co.; and Anthony Young, president of Southern Bancorp Community Partners. Each will discuss their experience in social entrepreneurship and how others can get involved or support the field.
“This is a learning and networking event that will allow Arkansans to dive into the waters of social entrepreneurship,” Abdul-Bey said. “We want exposure and awareness of this most meaningful concept. We invited students from the business administration and public administration departments of UALR, UCA, UAPB, Hendrix, Philander Smith College, Arkansas Baptist College, and Shorter College so that we can disseminate this information widely to people who we believe will be able to use it to the fullest.
(Pictured are Kwami Abdul-Bey and Madeline Burke.)
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