Remember when our President & CEO Dave Shaffer won Entrepreneur of the Year for piloting our unique integrated social venture model? Right now, he’s at the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum with 243 other regional winners awaiting the announcement of the National Entrepreneur of the Year, socializing with innovators, visionaries, and nationally-recognized entrepreneurs who are, to put it simply, changing the way we do things for the better. …
DePaul Industries Blog
Today we attended the Oregon Social Business Challenge at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon, where Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus gave the keynote address. The event was to convene a statewide competition among university student teams across the state to develop business solutions to challenging social problems. In other words, it was right up our alley.
Professor Yunus is perhaps best known as the founder of the microcredit concept, the extension of small loans given to individual entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank financing, but has gone on to found and advise hundreds of enterprises falling under the structure of what he deems “social business.”
Yunus made a number of interesting points during his speech, specifically when advocating for social business and its advantages in propelling social good. Making the distinction between raising money through traditional fundraising and earning it through social business, he said, “In charity, money goes—it doesn’t come back.” At DePaul Industries, we blend traditional goals of social good—employment opportunities for people with disabilities—with demand-driven business that fulfill our customers’ needs and solve business problems. We leverage the free market system for social change.
According to the Oregon Social Business Challenge website, “The important thing is not to mix up a social business with a profit-making business (PMB). In fact the inclusion of Social businesses alongside PMBs in the business world will give the free market capitalism a larger, nobler and a more fulfilling purpose.” By the same token, Yunus made sure to emphasize that social business isn’t removing traditional nonprofit work, either—there’s room for all of these structures to transform our world. Between nonprofits, for-profits, and social businesses as a blend of both, everyone has a role in improving our societies and achieving social goals. The important thing is to find the most efficient and effective structure in which to achieve your vision.
The event was sponsored by the Oregon University System (including Portland State University, Oregon State University, and University of Oregon) and was attended by such luminaries as Governor John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown, & Mayor Sam Adams. Many thanks to all of the event sponsors, the university system, the budding social entrepreneurs, and Professor Yunus for hosting such an inspiring and important event.
Visit Oregon Social Business Challenge to learn more!
We’re very excited to partner with Portland State University (PSU)’s Impact Entrepreneurs, the #1 small MBA program in the World by the Aspen Institute’s Beyond Grey Pinstripes report for preparing MBAs for social and environmental stewardship. Impact Entrepreneurs will help develop replication materials for DePaul in order to document our ‘special sauce’ and allow other organizations to leverage and scale our market-driven model of employing people with disabilities.
We’ve come a long way from our founding as a traditional, localized nonprofit since our founding in 1971. Our integrated business approach is why we need to document our strategy and tactics for future benefit. Turns out we’re a perfect fit for the Impact Entrepreneurs program at PSU.
“Developing a system for replicating DePaul Industries’ proven model for generating jobs and income for the disabled has enormous impact potential across the nation and perhaps worldwide,” said Carolyn McKnight, Executive Director of Impact Entrepreneurs. “It’s a joy to partner with DePaul Industries to scale collective impact and provide an aspirational future for some of our most vulnerable.”
Founded in PSU’s School of Business Administration, Impact Entrepreneurs provides tailored training and consulting to inspire, incubate and accelerate business-based approaches for generating social impact. Impact Entrepreneurs will assist us in strategically scaling our integrated social enterprise model by developing instructional materials to enable other organizations to leverage best practices we’ve cultivated over the past 40 years.
“DePaul’s partnership with Impact Entrepreneurs has the ability to raise the profile of this method to employ a significant portion of people with disabilities, the nation’s largest minority group,” said our CEO, Dave Shaffer. ”We’re thrilled to be combining forces with the experts here at home in Portland to help expand our mission and model nationwide.”
Last year, we employed over 2,000 people with disabilities and generated earned revenue of over $30 million through Clerical & Light Industrial Staffing, Security Services, and Food Packaging & Contract Manufacturing. We’re aiming to significantly increase both earned revenue and employment of people with disabilities over the next couple of years, and with that goal of scaling our model comes the need to document it.
Impact Entrepreneurs offer an interrelated set of educational programs designed to unleash the power of business for social impact. They’ve worked with clients like Digital Divide Data, Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers, and Mercy Corps, as well as startups such as EcoZoom and My Street Grocery. We’re excited to see how they can take us to the next level.
Stay tuned for more great information about the partnership!
We’ve taken another step closer into the world between nonprofit and for-profit. Our Board of Directors recently elected our President & CEO Dave Shaffer to its board as a voting member. Previously, Dave had attended the majority of Board meetings as a participant and contributor, but was not a member—maintaining the original nonprofit board structure instituted at DePaul’s founding. Dave will now actively participate in board votes, and will be able to share operational insights in a more effectual manner. This repositioning is indicative of our shift as an organization toward a definitive social entrepreneurial model over the last number of years, and puts us in a better place to achieve our ambitious earned revenue and disability employment goals.
Dave was vetted just as any other candidate would be for a board position. His professional experience is vast, both prior to his tenure at DePaul Industries and over the past 15 years he’s been with the organization. With experience in food and tech startups, turnarounds of organizations that were experiencing financial difficulties, and oversight of the growth of DePaul over the past five years, Dave is uniquely qualified to serve as one of our directors.
We’ve previously blogged about a social entrepreneurial board of directors case study that was published in the Journal of Social Entrepreneurship (Taylor & Francis Group) in March 2011, making clear that DePaul Industries is a type of social enterprise in which social mission and financial goals are ‘operationally integrated,’ and that the unique decision-making process of our Board of Directors is crucial to making it work. Electing our President & CEO to the board mimics the board structures of many large corporations, and further solidifies our integrated social venture model: It allows the strategic leadership of DePaul Industries to be more closely intertwined with the operational activities, thus allowing the social mission to be more closely intertwined with earned revenue.
Do you work for a social enterprise? What role does your CEO play on the board of directors?
What a week! Right on the heels of winning the 2011 Quality Award from Pepsico Americas Foods last week, our own DePaul Industries’ President & CEO Dave Shaffer was named the winner of the 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Pacific Northwest! The award was presented at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue outside of Seattle at a special gala this past Friday, June 15, 2012.
This is a huge accomplishment for Dave, as well as for DePaul’s innovative demand-driven business model of employing people with disabilities. For years, we’ve focused on developing solutions for businesses by leveraging the unique talents of people with disabilities. To be acknowledged by Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award—an award that has recognized the likes of Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google, Richard Schulze of Best Buy and others—is a major milestone in our history.
Dave put it best when he said that his long-term goal would be for our customers and another companies to put DePaul Industries out of business, by fully integrating people with disabilities into the workforce and making high unemployment rates a thing of the past. “In the interim, though,” said Dave to the audience on Friday night, “I ask you to take a risk (that’s what entrepreneurialism is all about): Hire people with disabilities. The rewards will dwarf the risk 10 times over.”
Check out a video of Dave’s acceptance speech, and a video clip of some of Dave’s interview discussing the DePaul Industries business model below: