Since its founding in 2015, University of Detroit Mercy’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship (CSE) has had a positive impact on more than 22,000 lives.
Among those most directly affected are the owners and employees of more than 50 start-up enterprises that have participated in the CSE Boost workshops. These workshops provide nine weeks of intense training in business basics followed by nine weeks of mentoring from seasoned businesspeople to help enable new entrepreneurs successfully launch and sustainably grow grow operations that enrich the community as much as they do the entrepreneurs.
This year, the CSE will add a new feature to the mix: the Social Innovation Fund. New business ventures that complete our Boost workshops will be invited to compete for loans, to be used as seed money to initiate or expand their operations.
“We have gotten very good at training socially conscious entrepreneurs through the Center for Social Entrepreneurship,” Derrin Leppek, Director of the CSE and an adjunct faculty member in Detroit Mercy’s College of Business Administration, said. “However, for many, getting outside funding remains a significant challenge. Typical lenders often don’t understand the importance of social impact and don’t usually have the patience required when working with a social enterprise. I am excited that we can fill this gap. This is a great opportunity for Detroit Mercy, our social entrepreneurs, and the city of Detroit. We will be able to increase their capacity to touch more lives through the work they do. It also allows us, as a university, to live the mission that this institution is founded upon and that is incredibly exciting.”
In addition to working with social entrepreneurs out in the community, the CSE has helped our faculty design a new academic program, so that beginning this year, undergraduates can pursue baccalaureate degrees with a concentration in Social Entrepreneurship. Courses include social entrepreneurship, venture capital and impact investing and sustainable development.