Social Entrepreneurship in America. The ambassador is going on a mission. Part 1

It all started with Mother Teresa and Richard Branson

We – social business ambassadors – who work in different professions in their daily lives, are the people who, together with Latvian Social Entrepreneurship Association we educate the public about this business direction and are happy to invest our heart and mind to promote the development of this field in Latvia. And we often say that social entrepreneurship is when you have Mother Teresa in your heart, which iconically combines endless concern for society and a special sense of mission, and the world business benchmark – Richard Branson, who owns a wide range of companies with the main goal – to make a profit. And, yes, if you want a really great company that makes money, but at the same time solves a social problem that is important for society by providing services or producing goods, you are definitely a social entrepreneur.

In my daily life I am an organizer of cultural and artistic events, an artist, a lecturer and I have been managing the association for 12 years. “Culture and Art Center” Nātre “”. The association unites people of all ages and professions with the aim of creating cultural and artistic, as well as educational and career-promoting events for a wide range of target audiences – children and young people, seniors, people with disabilities, entrepreneurs and artists. We are like a small PR agency that creates value-added events to take place where celebrations are not usually held. We do this with the aim of reaching out to a target audience that is often overlooked in order to bring up issues that are important to talk about. And, among other things, I am most pleased to be the Ambassador of Social Entrepreneurship in Latvia. Therefore, this week, when we celebrate Social Entrepreneurship Day around the world, I want to give a special story about social entrepreneurship on the other side of the ocean to inspire great work here in Latvia during this month of patriotism, as well as provide a small opportunity to “lift” until otherwise. And at the same time, it will be a story that every thought or action, choice and action of yours, no matter how public or invisible, can add up to an avalanche of events and lead to something grand.

In the same “boat” with Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher

Exactly a year ago, in the spring of 2019, representing the Latvian Social Entrepreneurship Association and “Culture and Art Center” Nātre “”, was nominated for the International Leadership Exchange Program (International Visitors leadership program (IVLP)) administered by the US Embassy in Latvia. The program, along with 23 other new world leaders from around the world, gave them the opportunity to participate in the event “Social Entrepreneurs in America”.

The IVLP, or International Visitors Leadership Program, is a professional exchange program in the United States, initiated by Nelson Rockefeller in 1940 with the goal of strengthening U.S. cooperation with countries around the world by bringing existing and emerging foreign leaders together with American counterparts. but long-term relationships between countries and peoples. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the program and has been attended by 200,000 participants since its inception, 500 of whom are current heads of state (such as Tony Blair, Lithuanian President Dalia Gribauskaite and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher). And Latvia is home to many creative minds and young leaders who are chosen every year from different fields to represent our country in this program.

Also in January 2020, this year’s first and only visit took place. However, others were canceled due to the pandemic. During the three-week program, participants meet with professional colleagues in the field / topic represented, visit U.S. public and private sector organizations, and participate in a variety of cultural and community activities. In short, it’s like a mini-diplomatic visit, where every day and hour is scheduled according to a program developed by the US State Department. Basically, every visit to the IVLP in America is a professional meeting, where you have to be in the best shape every day, ready to share experiences and tell about the country or organization you represent. Most IVLP exchange events take place over three weeks, during which different US communities, states, and cities with different experiences are visited. My trip led to New York, Cleveland, Salt Lake City and Miami.

And so, congratulating all entrepreneurs on World Entrepreneurship Week, I invite everyone to go on three mini-trips around America, getting to know different cities, businesses, people and, ultimately, social entrepreneurship in both metropolises and small towns.

Want to be on the list of fastest growing companies? Be a social entrepreneur!

Let’s start with the fact that there is no common understanding or definition in the world of what is and what is not a social enterprise. It can be a company, an organization, an association. In short – anything. The main thing that is considered is whether there is any positive, measurable impact on society. Latvia, with its Social Enterprise Law, the network of ambassadors and a specific definition, was really something powerful compared to the experience of other countries. But what is quite popular here is the certification of companies and including them in the family of B, Corps or B corporations. Thus, certified B corporations are companies that meet high social and environmental standards, are “transparent” and accountable in order to strike the best possible balance between social and business objectives.

The event is administered by B Lab, a global non-profit organization that brings together people with the goal of creating businesses that serve the common good. The B Corp certificate is often paid thousands of dollars a year because the facts are wrong: social enterprises or enterprises with a social mission are three times faster than “regular” and 60% of employees choose to work for a company with added value, sustainability and social responsibility. which is a particularly important indicator today. Therefore, it is worth certifying and positioning yourself, because it will pay off, in addition, it will be positioned in an international network, indicating quality and other important factors. Therefore, in the future, when traveling in different US states – New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, Utah – I will report on various companies that would not otherwise declare themselves as social companies in Latvia.

New York – Kaleidoscope of Nations, Walt Street and Statue of Liberty

Of course, let’s start with something interesting – New York, where everything is possible – to meet interesting personalities, as well as to get to almost the world’s largest organizations. There will be a story about the city as well as important foundations and organizations. And then we will travel to other states – in the eastern part of America, in the south and in the middle -, getting to know the different cultures and organizations that have just been established, to global corporations.

New York scenes
Photo: Dace Indrika

Although IVLP visits usually begin in Washington, we were among the 5% for whom the American story began in New York. I am also extremely happy about that. And anyway – this one city is a real American dream – the largest city in the country with more than 8.5 million. The famous Rockefeller Center, Times Square, where thousands of billboards shine, is home to Broadway theaters, the most famous American TV shows and the world ‘s most outstanding art museums – “MoMa” Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Architecture and Design. Of course, the business centers and brokers on the famous Volt Street near the Statue of Liberty are still the same in New York. This city is the center of fashion and culture, advertising, publishing and entertainment industries, and every company or organization takes it for granted to open a representative office or office here.

Photo: Dace Indrika

And this is where my acquaintance with the world’s new leaders and social entrepreneurs from around the world, their vision, values ​​and challenges in business, as well as the first acquaintance, which is social entrepreneurship in America, began.

Photo: Dace Indrika

“You are today’s pilots and take us to where we will be tomorrow”

In New York, we had a wonderful meeting with a number of business leaders and social campaign starters. For example, Cyntia Hellen, a Portuguese-born TV producer who has also worked on the popular TV series Friends, ran a social campaign all year round to try to survive on two dollars a day, thus personally focusing on low-income people. intercultural communication and developing solutions for those living in such conditions and educating the public about sustainability in their SMPLCT Lab. She is currently working on various social campaigns and advertisements in various countries around the world, which can also be followed on the website. and Instagram.

Among other things, as a communication expert for us – social entrepreneurs – she reminds us how important it is to be able to tell your personal or company story in 3 sentences. “If you learn to do that, others will understand you and be able to help,” she says. For example, the Culture and Art Center “Nātre” is an association that unites young artists, students and seniors, people of various professions with the aim of creating cultural events with added value. We are like a small PR agency that conjures up celebrations for others. By giving us the opportunity, you allow the skills and experience to grow for anyone who would otherwise find it impossible to experience the joy of creation in art.

But looking for inspiration in the best social impact commercials and personal stories, I invite you to look at two examples of how everyday goods are, for example, women’s foundation or the most expensive gold in the world – clean water – can make a huge contribution to reducing social inequalities by tackling global challenges.

Photo: Dace Indrika

Trust Law is the world ‘s largest charity platform working to provide legal protection and research to various NGOs and social enterprises. Trust Law operates under the auspices of the world’s largest news and information provider, the international media agency Thomas Reuters, and has been working since 2010 to bring together prestigious law firms and NGOs to help them fight for justice and human rights. Also in Latvia, if there was such a need, it would be possible to describe your problem and receive free support from the international organization “Trust Law”.

Acumen Foundation serves disadvantaged communities in developing countries throughout the Sahara, South Asia, Latin America and the United States. Its philosophy is based on the belief that poverty reduction can be tackled more quickly by giving people the opportunity to earn their own living by investing in goods, setting up a business and human resources, like direct philanthropy. Over 15 years, the Akumen Foundation has invested $ 115 million in 113 companies, succeeded in raising resources and exploiting investment opportunities in clean energy, healthcare and agriculture. Although Latvia is not in the scope of this fund, it is possible to do a lot with such a philosophy here as well. And after all, the world is now more united than ever before!

Rainforest Alliance– In the mid-1980s, David R. Katz was 24 years old and had just learned of the damage to the climate and the world by cutting down the Amazon rainforest, wearing a white T-shirt and protesting in the streets. It later became clear that such a protest attracts attention, but does not yield anything in the long run. His passion for nature and its protection for future generations has led him to the founding of international organizations and foundations. The Rainforest Alliance is a global company that has been working for more than 30 years to promote biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods around the world, human rights and climate issues in more than 70 countries around the world, so that nature and man can coexist harmoniously.

Photo: Dace Indrika

Rainforest Alliance certifies agricultural enterprises, land all over the world, awarding the certificate as a quality mark that it does not employ children, has adequate living conditions for employees, taxes are paid, there is gender equality. This organization works to make responsible business the norm by building an alliance to protect forests, improve the human rights of farmers and those involved in forest communities, mitigate the climate crisis and adapt to it as early as possible. Mr Katca also has shares Catalog Choice An author whose purpose is to stop unsolicited mail and advertisements from reaching our mailboxes. And concluding the mighty story of New York, I will mention Daniel R. Katz’s call / wish to the new leaders and leaders: “You are today’s pilots and take us to where we will be tomorrow.”

Dace Indrika, Ambassador of Social Entrepreneurship in Latvia, Chairman of the Board of KMC Nātre
Photo: Dace Indrika

(To be continued)

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