Fast Company

Social Capitalists, Unite!

Following our report on the top 20 social capitalists (January), several groups in the Company of Friends connected with social entrepreneurs to gauge the state of social capitalism in their own communities.

Members of the Vancouver, British Columbia, group met with social enterprises to explore various approaches to doing good work--while doing good. "The barriers to becoming a social entrepreneur are much smaller than I imagined," says Rajesh Taneja, a member of the Vancouver CoF. "And it can be profitable." Taneja cited Potluck Catering (www.potluckcatering.com), a catering and event-planning company, and Atira Property Management (www.atira.ca) as profitable Vancouver social enterprises.

In early April, a member of the Toronto CoF gathered with a group of community-training and social-service organizations to learn more about the Vancouver Social Purchasing Portal (www.ftebusiness.org), a Web site that connects businesses with socially conscious service providers--and a model that could be applied in Toronto. "There are a number of things that are just beginning to happen around community economic development and social enterprise in the Toronto area, but nothing has congealed yet," says Nancy Sendell, a member of the Toronto CoF.

The Seattle CoF teamed up with Social Venture Partners and the Social Enterprise Group, a consultancy that works with nonprofits and philanthropic groups to overcome organizational and financial challenges. They organized an event in May featuring David Bornstein, author of How to Change the World and a member of the 2004 Social Capitalist Awards advisory board. Lori Richardson, coordinator of the Seattle CoF, says, "The message for our community echoes the Social Enterprise Group's tagline: 'Good business and social conscience are not mutually exclusive.' "

For more information about the Company of Friends, visit the Web (www.fastcompany.com/cof). For CoF event listings, check out the CoF calendar online (www.fastcompany.com/keyword/cofcalendar).

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