Emily Stuhldreher shared insights into getting social enterprises up and running after years of work with GiveBackHack. There’s an entire community of social enterprises in Ohio that connect to GiveBackHack, including previous guests and myself. Emily talked through a lot of what it takes to build and validate the ideas we start with when embarking on the road of social enterprise.
Our conversation started with updates on how the initiative is operating. Emily shared the transition of connecting with the community virtually. Last year, GiveBackHack held the event virtually for the first time. Participants were still able to build together and feel a team harmony. I also attended, so we discussed some ideas that we saw at the virtual GiveBackHack.
When beginning a social enterprise, understanding the issue as an experience builds a foundation for the idea. Emily reflected on GiveBackHack over the years, noting the most successful ideas have experience or know someone with experience related to the issue. Emily called for social entrepreneurs to understand and challenge assumptions about the problem they are approaching. Sometimes, idea development requires learning about more lived experiences, then, circling back to your idea to integrate perspectives of the people with the experiences.
Emily gave a lesson of the importance of feedback, the MVP (minimum viable product), and the design thinking process. She cautioned about the effort and losses associated with not confirming the needs of the community you engage with. This shifted into a discussion on social enterprise being a model where teams need to validate ideas and validate impact. Emily explained an approach to actively validating ideas by sharing the journey of previous GiveBackHack participant Renter Mentor. The initiative connects residents needing low-income housing with the landlords that will rent to them.
Most of the impact social enterprises create by forming scalable small impacts. Emily expressed her thoughts on individual commitment to impact. She is a system change advocate but also emphasized her belief in the “… one-to-one impact you can have as a person by living your life as a person who’s passionate about impact and cares about helping others.” Emily then gave insight on ways engaging with the impact community can help develop our scalable shared impact.
In fact, scalable shared impact can lead to recognizing gaps in problems. There may be an angle or perspective of the problem that is not being fully addressed. That gap becomes an excellent opportunity to assist the community. Emily spoke about Upchieve, a 24/7 high school tutoring initiative, to illustrate the point of identifying issue gaps.
Winding down, we discussed finding volunteer opportunities to stay in touch with communities. People living in Columbus may want to start with Point app, Columbus Gives Back, and BESA as resources for volunteering. You can start by engaging with people, then developing small prototypes to get feedback from stakeholders of the problems. Repeat this process to continue optimizing the impact you bring.