How "Giving Back" Gets Down to Business

July 13 2017 • Rachel Calderon


This editorial was featured in the July 2017 issue of The Park Press.

Ever since smart phones entered our lives just over ten years ago, the world as we knew it began to change. The phenomena of social media had begun a few years prior with the launch of Facebook, and the rest is history. We carry the world in our pockets and at our fingertips.

Along with how the way we shop, eat, and communicate has changed, so has the way we gave back. Now more than ever, we want to know that the money we spend serves a greater purpose than just making a purchase – we want to ensure that it does good, too. We want to do more than just write a check to an organization – we want our actions to have meaning and impact.

This concept inspired local social entrepreneur Ben Hoyer, founder and director of Downtown Credo, a donation based coffee shop in Orlando. Back in 2010 after relocating to Orlando, Ben felt that the community ought to be better because he is here. With that idea in mind, one thing led to another, and he traveled to Guatemala with a friend to visit a coffee farm and meet its growers and a new relationship was formed.

From that trip, the concept of Downtown Credo came to be – if you reject apathy and despair and engage in your city to make an impact for good, that you might actually like who you are becoming. Downtown Credo reaffirms that idea with every cup of coffee it serves as every guest names their own price based on what they think it’s worth. With that, you’re buying coffee that supports local business, the local community, and the international coffee industry. Your choices are bigger than just that purchase and affect more than just yourself.

Then there is Clean the World, a local social enterprise with a global reach that collects and recycles soap and hygiene products discarded in hotels that generate environmental waste, and instead puts these products into the hands of impoverished people, preventing hygiene-related deaths each year.

With the concepts of Downtown Credo and Clean the World in mind, the social entrepreneurship movement in Central Florida is rapidly growing. Social entrepreneurs develop a business that has a double bottom line – profits and doing good. This is the new way of doing business that goes beyond traditional corporate social responsibility. It’s not only does social good, but economic good too.

Social enterprise creates a way for under-served entrepreneur populations like women and minorities to have the opportunity to take their idea to the next level.

Last month, the Central Florida Social Enterprise Accelerator was launched in our area as a way to help entrepreneurs overcome the obstacles and barriers to success they face like a lack of mentorship, resources, and connections. It’s a way to give back to the community by investing in businesses that do more than earn a profit. Their solutions address social, environmental and economic societal challenges. Social enterprise - it’s the new way of doing business and doing good. It inspires solutions to our community’s most pressing issues, provides a new way to give back, and develops businesses that create jobs to further develop Central Florida.

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