Great Social Enterprise Pitch Competition planned for this Friday

Central Penn Business Journal recently published an article titled “Great Social Enterprise Pitch Competition Planning for This Friday”. 

The Great Social Enterprise Pitch, a business plan competition in Lancaster facilitated by the Lancaster County Community Foundation and ASSETS Lancaster, will host its second event, which is designed to empower local social enterprise ideas.

The competition, which includes five idea teams, will take place at at 7 p.m. Friday at Fulton Elementary School in Lancaster.

The ideas are all developed to achieve positive social or environmental impact at a profit. The event includes keynote speaker Gabriel Mandujano, a social entrepreneur and founder of Wash Cycle Laundry, a bike-powered laundry service based in Philadelphia.

The teams will have five minutes to pitch their social enterprise concept, and winners will take home more than $30,000 in cash and prizes from 25 local organizations.

The process launched in January, and this event is the final step in the competition.

The top five ideas for Lancaster are as follows:

Far Far Away Books. A mobile book-seller for low-income neighborhoods. Lead: Garret Drew Ellis.

Life and Legacies. Visual story-telling archive of Lancaster County residents. Leads: Meredith Cooke and Joe Mitton.

Make 717 Innovation Center. A community space for artisans, machinists, and designers. Leads: Ben Eisemann and Bruce C. Schreiner.

Revolution. Training homeless women to create hand-made jewelry and develop business skills. Lead: Sarah Rutt and Charissa Gift.

The Stroopie Company. A cookie bakery that actively employs refugees. Lead: Jennie Groff.

The ideas will be judged by representatives from Lancaster City Council, Champ’s Barber School, Upohar Ethnic Cuisines, Alfacom Commodities and Dansko.

This is just one of many efforts made to benefit small businesses in Lancaster.

The event is free and open to the public.

Sustaining One Business, Starting Another

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This summer, ASSETS clients Kam Li Tangbau and Brang Gan Maran opened a new restaurant in North East Lancaster City. But the story behind the restaurant, Burma Road, runs much deeper than you’d expect. When the duo came to ASSETS in 2013, they’d been operating a business for nearly 3 years. Refugees of Myanmar, Li Tangbau and Gran Maran started a sushi franchise providing pre-made sushi in a local grocery store. They came to ASSETS looking for help growing their enterprise.

“It’s not necessarily expected that the business idea someone brings at the start of the course is the business that actually gets started in the end. Hopefully, through the lessons learned in the course, prospective entrepreneurs learn the skills and knowledge to start any business, even if the first idea doesn’t pan out” ASSETS Director of Programs, Jonathan Coleman, said. That’s exactly the case here, except this dynamic duo has continued operating and growing their sushi franchise, and opened the new restaurant, Burma Road.

Learning Circles is a program intended to equip local entrepreneurs with business fundamentals and understand feasibility studies. While the name has changed and fallen under new direction over the years, Learning Circles was and remains the foundational tool by which ASSETS hopes to build a stronger Lancaster. Connecting entrepreneurial minds to resources and education necessary to start and sustain small businesses is essential to creating economic opportunity for everyone. According to the Small Business Administration, 64 percent of new jobs in the US, between 1993 and 2011, were created by small businesses. And as Lancaster continues to grow, ASSETS believes the county’s small business leadership should reflect our changing community.

So while Li Tangbau and Gan Maran have their hands full with culinary enterprise, the staff at ASSETS can’t help but feel inspired. It’s this kind of dedication that ASSETS feeds off of. Community members with creative ideas and passion–that’s what gets us fired up about economic change, and that’s what inspires us to keep doing what we’re doing.

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The moral of the story is this: whether you currently own a small business or you have an inkling of a business idea, ASSETS wants to help you. Our next Learning Circles program is staged to begin this fall, on September 22. But don’t wait! The application deadline is this Friday, September 11.

For more information contact Jonathan Coleman at jonathan@assetslancaster.org or give us a call at (717) 393-6089.