By Anna Upchurch, Joining Vision and Action
Young social entrepreneurs have made their mark in the social enterprise field. For the past four years, Forbes has announced its 30 under 30—a list it deems to include the 30 brightest social entrepreneurs, who are under 30. But what about baby boomers? Boomers are equally ready to create social change, and they bring seasoned experience to the field!
Take, for example, Bill Morris, the CEO of Blue Star Recyclers. Bill spent 25 years in the telecommunications industry, where he led several teams of salespeople before co-founding Blue Star Recyclers. Blue Star has locations in Colorado Springs and Denver and employs 35 people (25 with disabilities). The social enterprise was founded in 2009 and returns triple-bottom line results by:
- Recycling over 7.5 million pounds of electronics
- Creating local jobs for people with disabilities in the community
- Generating $2 million in new local revenues and $1 million in taxpayer savings
Bill saw two problems when he developed Blue Star’s model. The first problem was that less than 20% of electronic waste was recycled. Second was that more than 80% of people with disabilities were unemployed. These are the two problems Bill then solved. Coming out of retirement to create social good, Bill found his finest team at Blue Star Recyclers, and he is not alone.
For many people, retirement is not enough. Older adults in Encore careers have proven that instead of retiring, they will continue to apply their skills by addressing social or environmental problems. Social problems have existed throughout time, and it will require a collective approach to solve society’s problems and inequalities. We need everyone to come to the table and create social enterprises in order to have a lasting impact on our communities.
to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Colorado was ranked the second-best state for entrepreneurship and innovation in 2014, but Denver has also become a mecca for social entrepreneurship. Many local resources are available to help social entrepreneurs grow and thrive. In fact, the Social Enterprise Alliance has a chapter in Denver, Colorado.
Do you have an idea for a social enterprise or are you interested in learning more? JVA’s social enterprise products and services can help you take your idea from concept to market. They will help social innovators:
- Create a lean business model and plan
- Determine how to conduct industry, competitor and market analyses
- Develop a stakeholder communication plan
- Learn how to find customers and how to sell
- Understand the types of financing available
- Confidently pitch their idea to investors
- Create metrics to evaluate success
We have worked with social entrepreneurs from all over the country (and Canada!) who have come with a wide range of ideas, which we have helped them launch into successful social enterprise businesses.