The student-led Social Entrepreneurship Committee at the UA Clinton School of Public Service will host a panel discussion called, “Creating Better Communities through Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship,” on Thursday, April 21, at the CALS Rock It! Lab in downtown Little Rock. The event will be available to attend either 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 5:30-7:30 p.m. and will include unique perspectives and insights of social business leaders from across the mid-South.
The Committee defines social entrepreneurship as a business model blended with an intentional social impact, that involves individuals, organizations and ventures ‘intentionally working to maximize positive social and environmental impact rather than solely prioritizing profits.” National examples of the social entrepreneurship 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 creating better communities through innovation and social entrepreneurship,” said Madeline Burke, second-year Clinton School student and co-chair of the Social Entrepreneurship Committee. “There will be time for networking and a panel discussion. Our objective is to raise awareness about social entrepreneurship and to cultivate more engagement within this field.”
The Committee believes social entrepreneurship plays an important role not only in economic growth, but in social justice and inclusion.
Kwami Abdul-Bey, a first-year Clinton School student who co-chairs the committee with Burke, explained that in April 2020 the World Economic Forum launched its COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs with the pronouncement that social entrepreneurs are vital first responders to effectively and efficiently challenge local systems of social injustice and racial inequity, and that advocating for social entrepreneurship is part of the 2020-2030 United Nations Decade of Action Global Goals.
“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 maintaining, a strong and impactful push to increase the implementation and scaling of social enterprises, here in Arkansas, that challenge local systems of social injustice and racial inequity?”
Panelists for the event 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 Venture 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 dip their toes in the waters of social entrepreneurship,” said Abdul-Bey. “We want exposure and awareness of this most meaningful concept. We have invited students in the Business Administration and Public Administration departments at UALR, UCA, UAPB, Hendrix, Philander Smith College, Arkansas Baptist College and Shorter College so that we can spread this information far and wide to the people that we feel will be able to use it the most.”
(Pictured are Kwami Abdul-Bey and Madeline Burke.)