What do you get when entrepreneurs start businesses to fund community problem-solving? Social enterprise, according to AZ LeaderForce executive director Steve Capobres. This civic leadership organization with 15 years of service in a variety of programs, and nearly a decade of experience matching civic leaders with community-based organizations to ensure growth, has embraced social enterprise wholeheartedly with Café Esperanza, a locally roasted coffee, and The Refuge, a central Phoenix restaurant. AZ LeaderForce, a member of the Arizona Civic Leadership Collaborative, sees Café Esperanza increasingly as a funding engine for its parent organization, Catholic Charities Community Services, and itself as the facilitator of an Arizona chapter of the national Social Enterprise Alliance.
Social enterprise is not new in Arizona or across the country. One study, the Great Social Enterprise Census, estimated that the sector employs as many as 14,000 people across more than 25 states. This profit-for-good construct includes businesses producing a product or service to solve a social problem, employing and buying from underserved communities as a primary purpose, or making profits principally to reinvest in a social activity, wrote Ben Thomley in his column, “The Facts on U.S. Social Enterprise.” Such businesses in Arizona are not just proof of the social enterprise trend, but are enjoying success. Everyone wins. What a great reason for a good cup of coffee. See www.cafeesperanza.net for more.