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Startup Weekend Detroit
May 29th, 2015

Michigan is home to a host of world renowned higher-education institutions. Each of which has found a unique way to serve its respective community and elevate the quality of life in many ways – from education, workforce development, employment, to economic development – truly, there is a long list.

For the nascent social enterprise community in Michigan, the University of Michigan Center for Social Impact has served as an anchor and a fountain of resources for all who seek to add value to their community through enterprise.

Their latest contribution to our upcoming Startup Weekend in Detroit for social entrepreneurs is just one example of their commitment to nurturing the local ecosystem. It also provides some amazing and well-deserved support for some very lucky entrepreneurs. As part of their $1,000 sponsorship for the event we have been able to discount several tickets to provide a scholarship for existing social entrepreneurs to attend the event. We are looking forward to applying their support towards other awesome surprises over the weekend… I guess you just have to register to see what we have planned!

But first, let’s learn a little more about the Center for Social Impact as told by the Assistant Director, Catherine Johnson.

What is the Center for Social Impact?

The Center for Social Impact at the Ross School of Business serves as a dynamic link between the social impact community and the University of Michigan. Our mission is to prepare and inspire leaders to solve complex social challenges. Our programs provide valuable support for mission-driven organizations and enable students to deliver social impact in multidisciplinary and cross-sector settings. 

How does Center for Social Impact support the entrepreneurial ecosystem? 

Our Center supports the social enterprise ecosystem on campus and across Southeast Michigan in a variety of ways. 

Within the broader landscape, we help cultivate the ecosystem by providing technical support, mentorship, and sponsorship for social entrepreneurship programs and events including the Michigan Social Entrepreneurship Challenge, the Build Institute’s Build Social program, and national conferences such as the Social Enterprise Ecosystem for Economic Development (SEED) Conference. We also are active in the newly formed Detroit Social Enterprise Alliance chapter, supporting social entrepreneurs through development of programming, funding streams, and networking opportunities. 

On campus, this year we partnered with two other Institutes at Ross to pilot a $15k social venture track of a long-standing business plan competition which is open to all U-M students. This track is designed to support the launch of new ventures that tackle social and environmental issues and to foster social entrepreneurship at U-M. The award rewards social entrepreneurs developing a new for-profit or nonprofit venture.  

We also provide support for students pursuing social enterprise internships and student social entrepreneurs developing businesses. This summer, Praveen Loganathan , Co-Founder of InFusion Technologies, a renewable energy systems home installation company, will be completing a social entrepreneur fellowship with the Center for Social Impact. He will be working to grow the business by expanding the InFusion client base and developing a marketing strategy.

The Center for Social Impact was also an inaugural sponsor of the MBAs Across America program, supporting a team with three Ross MBAs, Nydia Cardenas, Saurabh Kumar, and Stefanie Thomas. MBAs Across America takes students out on the road to learn from and work with visionary entrepreneurs. The 2014 Ross team worked with The Social Club Grooming Company. The Center will be sponsoring a 2015 MBA team this summer.

Why is it important to support social enterprise?

It is critically important that the entrepreneurs tackling our most pressing social challenges receive the guidance, funding, and the network needed to develop their ideas and bring their ventures to life. In order for this to happen, there needs to be a rich system of opportunities to support a wide range of social enterprises. This requires collective and coordinated effort from funders and investors, supporters, and existing and nascent social entrepreneurs. 

Why is the Center for Social Impact excited to support Startup Weekend and entrepreneurs?

 We are very excited to support Startup Weekend Detroit for Social Entrepreneurs! We hope it proves to be not just productive but transformative for all who participate. Startup Weekend is a fantastic forum that can move things from idea to reality and significantly accelerate impact.  

Don’t forget to save your seat at our upcoming event on May 29th. We look forward to seeing you! Visit https://swdetroitsocial.eventbrite.com to register today!

Nicole Mangis