Friday, February 18, 2011

The State of Social Entrepreneurship in New Jersey - Part II

Continued from the previous post ....

Social entrepreneurship exists in New Jersey but we should be supporting it better.  I don’t want New Jersey social entrepreneurship and organizations thinking about setting up in New Jersey to have to travel far for the support of their social innovation.  I am particularly concerned that there is no established network of social entrepreneurs that could help facilitate some of these conversations and support these efforts.

So I proposed to The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development that we lead the effort to create a New Jersey Social Entrepreneurship Network by collaborating with like minded individuals to host events and initiatives that raise the visibility of social entrepreneurship and social enterprise in the state.

There are several things planned for 2011 that will bring social entrepreneurs, social innovators and social business owners together to be connected to the leaders in the field, understand the current trends and develop the right connections for the establishment and growth of these ventures.

The first of these events is today at the Rutgers University Camden Campus.  

In collaboration with the Community Foundation of South Jersey and the Rutgers Camden Office of Economic Development, we created the first NJ Social Entrepreneurship Summit.   Today’s summit launches a state-wide initiative led by Rutgers University and its partners to connect resources and build support for social entrepreneurs through workshops, seminars, community-building events and online support.  In order to raise the profile of social entrepreneurship, social innovation and social business in New Jersey,  we will bring current and aspiring social entrepreneurs, supporters of social entrepreneurship, and  interested foundation program officers, social investors, and government officials together to discuss, engage, and collaborate to improve the future of New Jersey.

The goal is to create an infrastructure for social entrepreneurship to flourish in our state. The time is now!

For more information about today's summit go to

Monday, January 24, 2011

The State of Social Entrepreneurship in New Jersey - Part I

Where are the Jersey social entrepreneurs?

I was born in New Jersey.  Raised in New Jersey.  Went to New Jersey public schools. Attended the Governor’s School of Public Issues and the Future of New Jersey as a Junior in high school.  I earned two degrees from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.  I moved away from the state and came back 7 years ago and I now am a professor at Rutgers Business School.  I am Jersey strong!  I have Jersey Roots and a Global Reach!

With all of that Jersey love, I am still a bit dismayed about one thing – the lack of support and visibility of Social Entrepreneurs in New Jersey. 

For five years I was on the faculty of New York University where I taught entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship. As someone interested in social entrepreneurship it was rewarding to work with other dedicated people like those at the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Reynolds’ Program in Social Entrepreneurship, Blue Ridge Foundation and numerous student and community organizations to support the practice, education, and research of social entrepreneurship even hosting conferences and co-editing three books on the subject (see below).  New York City has a vibrant social entrepreneurship scene!
Alas, in my home state, there is no scene for social entrepreneurs.

Of course, there are some all stars like Rising Tide Capital and Terracycle.  And, there are several SE organizations that are working in our major cities (e.g. TEAM Academy/KIPP Schools, Citizen Schools, PlayWorks).  But, there is no statewide support and more importantly, there is no statewide social innovation fund.

I am not the kind of person who will point out a problem without having a solution. I can’t just rant about it.  I have to do something about it.  With this blog, I am launching an all out effort to meet, cooperate, support and network with social entrepreneurs in New Jersey.  

I will write more on this tomorrow so stay tuned ...

Here are the three books I mentioned above:


Friday, January 21, 2011

The Four Critical Elements of Social Entrepreneurship

by Jeffrey A. Robinson, Ph.D. (@jrobinson on Twitter)

I have taught about social entrepreneurship all around the world.  One of the questions that many people ask is, what makes a social entrepreneur a social entrepreneur?  My answer has four parts and here they are – I call them the four elements of social entrepreneurship - social impact, social innovation, sustainability and measurement.  I ask key questions related to each of these elements below and provide 

The Four Elements of Social Entrepreneurship

Social Impact. 

Key Question: What social impact does the business or organization make on society?

Social impact is a key element of a social venture.    What is the issue or problem that the business or organization is being set up to solve? A social venture can make impact at different levels (for example: community, local, regional, national) or with varying degrees of depth.   How a social venture makes the impact and where it wants to make the impacts are important strategic decisions. 

Social Innovation.

Key Question:  Is the venture using a new (or improved) approach to addressing the social and/or environmental issue?

Social ventures break new ground, pioneer new approaches, or develop new models.  These ventures need to creatively navigate the economic, social, and institutional barriers to addressing the social need.  Social entrepreneurs develop new approaches to addressing social problems or utilize technology to facilitate problem solving. 


Key Questions:  Is this venture financially viable?  Is this venture positioned to fulfill its mission over the long-term?

A sustainable social venture is financially viable and positioned to fulfill its mission over the long-term.  Many social ventures are not sustainable because they rely upon unstable grant-making or government institutions for their funding. Alternatively, earned-income or fee-for-service business model are generally more effective strategies for social ventures.  Some social ventures are not sustainable because they have not organized their internal resources effectively to fulfill their mission.  How a social venture marshals its resources to be sustainable is an important strategic decision that often separates traditional non-profit organizations  and NGOs from social entrepreneurship.


Key Questions: How does this venture measure its social impact and evaluate success?  Are the measurement tools appropriate for the social issue?

Measurement and evaluation are essential to social entrepreneurship. In addition to the financial metrics used by traditional ventures, social ventures must measure their impact and evaluate its effectiveness.  There are many ways to gather and evaluate the social impact of a venture.  The key is that the social venture is using an appropriate type of measurement tool that is in line with their theory of change.

It is these four elements that lead to all-star social entrepreneurship and highly effective social ventures.  The best social entrepreneurs in the world fully understand how to bring these four elements into their social ventures as they launch and grow their ventures.  This is how I organize my social entrepreneurship course (which I am teach at Rutgers Business School this semester) and all of my workshops, seminars and training. It is a powerful framework for helping new and existing social ventures find and keep the entrepreneurial edge and redefine the game for their stakeholders.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Upcoming Black Faces and White Places Related Events

Some of you have asked where I will be to sign books and talk about the Black Faces and White Places Book.  Below is a list of events where I will be in the next month.  For information on where Dr. Pinkett will be go to

Wednesday, January 26, 6 PM
BFWP Book Signing Event & Reception Hosted by Bed Stuy Restoration Corporation and Alpha Phi Alpha (Gamma Iota Lambda Chapter)
Billie Holiday Theater
 Restoration Plaza
1368 Fulton Street,  Brooklyn, NY 11216  
Monday, February 7, 8 PM
BFWP Lecture and Book Signing hosted by MEET/Rutgers NSBE and the Delta Iota Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated
Busch Campus Center, Center Hall, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey
Wednesday, February 9, 6-9 PM
Kick-Off of the BFWP Book Tour hosted by The JI Group
TBD, New York, New York
Thursday, February 10, 12-2 PM
Public Lecture and Book Signing at Rutgers Camden
Rutgers Camden Campus Center, 326 Penn Street, Camden, New Jersey
Tuesday, February 15, 10 AM-2 PM
Business Planning for Social Enterprise Organizations Seminar for NJ Health Initiatives CEO  Roundtable
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Private Event)
Thursday, February 17, Noon-130 PM
BFWP Book Signing and Black History Month Event at PSEG Newark
PSEG Newark (Private Event
Friday, February 18,  9 AM – 2 PM
Social Innovation, Social Benefit, and Job Creation: The Potential of Social Entrepreneurship in South Jersey
Rutgers Camden Campus Center, 326 Penn Street, Camden, New Jersey
Sunday, February 20, 8-1 PM
New Vision Church
Philadelphia, PA
Wednesday, February 23, 1230-2:30 PM
Black History Month Book Signing Event at Community College of Philadelphia
Community College of Philadelphia, PA
Saturday, February 26, TBD
Black Faces in White Places Panel Discussion at the State of Young Black New York hosted by NUL Young Professionals and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated
NYU Kimmel Center, 60 West 4th Street, New York, NY
March 17-18, 2011
NAMIC Leadership Development Program
UCLA Executive Education Center

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Karen Lee, CEO of Pioneer Human Services, to speak at NJ Social Entrepreneurship Summit!

Karen Lee

Karen Lee’s notable career includes distinguished work in both the private and public sectors. Prior to joining Pioneer, Karen led Washington State’s Employment Security Department for six years. Cutting-edge programs that were developed during her tenure serve as a model for other states during our country’s deep financial crisis.  Karen’s early career began in the military serving in Germany as a second lieutenant. She then moved into the private sector with management positions at Preston, Gates and Ellis and Puget Sound Energy, respectively.

In October of 2010 Pioneer Human Services, a Seattle-based nonprofit, selected Lee to serve as their new CEO. PHS provides a chance for changeto people overcoming the challenges of chemical dependency, mental health issues and/or criminal histories. PHS integrates housing, employment, training, reentry and treatment support services. The organization’s entrepreneurial activities – from manufacturing and warehousing to food services and distribution – provide 99% of Pioneer’s revenue.  Lee is poised to lead Pioneer into its next chapter of growth. She is the first female and first African American to run what Fast Company magazine calls a [unique] national model of a “successful social enterprise.”

Lee serves as trustee of Western Washington University and was past president and trustee of the University of Washington Alumni Association.  In 2004, Puget Sound Business Journal selected her as a 40 Under 40 honoree.

Lee holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in Russian from the United States Military Academy at West Point, a law degree from the University of Washington and is a candidate for an MBA from the UW Foster School of Business.

When not wearing her professional attire, you can find Karen dressed in purple and supporting the Huskies or cheering at her teens’ soccer matches from the sidelines.  She and her family live in Covington, Washington.

Pioneer Human Services Video Clip

Speakers from the Sustainable Business Network, E3 Bank, Imprint Investors, Greyston Bakery, FreshBox Catering at Lutheran Social Services, and others have been confirmed.

Join Black Faces in White Places Author Dr. Jeffrey Robinson at MLK Panel at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset New Jersey

I am looking forward to participating in the panel discussion on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  See the flyer below.

Join me on Friday night in Somerset at First Baptist Church!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Social Entrepreneurship Summit in Camden

Speakers from the Sustainable Business Network, E3 Bank, Imprint Investors, Greyston Bakery, FreshBox Catering at Lutheran Social Services, and others have been confirmed.

Friday, February 18, 2011
9 – 2:00 p.m.
Rutgers – Camden Student Center
Multipurpose Room
326 Penn Street, Camden, NJ, 08102-1410.

The purpose of this summit is to investigate the value of attracting and supporting social entrepreneurs to South Jersey.

You will learn:
  • How nonprofits are using new business models and services to diversify their revenue and create jobs.
  • How for-profit businesses can focus on social impact and still make a profit.
  • How individual investors, foundations, and others are offering idea-stage, early-stage, and mezzanine-level funding for nonprofit and for-profit social entrepreneurs.

If you have questions, please contact us at 856-216-8150 or