Our intern Thomas Oliver recently attended the Cause Conference, an incredible opportunity for changemakers from across industries to accelerate social impact. Read on to learn about Thomas’ thoughts on the experience.
San Diego is a global city with unique challenges and opportunities. Many non-profits, universities, and, yes, even businesses are stepping up to those challenges. Social entrepreneurship can be situated at the intersection of these realms. The common adage of “Doing Well, By Doing Good.” Within this model, business can become a battery for change—helping with awareness, labor, and money.
The Cause Conference is a regional event bringing together changemakers from across non-profit, for-profit, social enterprises, philanthropists, and many shades of organizations between or outside these categories. This year, they celebrated their 25th anniversary of collaboration.
Amazing Key Speakers
Throughout the day, outstanding global entrepreneurs graced the stage. Joseph Kenner, CEO of Greyston Bakery, closed the intro session by talking about “Open Hiring.” Open Hiring is a radical shift in employment policy that starts with entry jobs where the barrier to employment is a list. At Greyston Bakery, they train people for nine months and induct them into a long-term stable bakery job. Their HR includes programs matching these workers to appropriate career development and quick promotion. The organization becomes an engine for human development, and healthy wages lead to reinvestment in that community.
New Horizons of Collaboration
This is just one example of the transformative potential of social entrepreneurship. Thriving businesses can, and should consider, sharing that benefit with their communities. I attended a breakout meeting titled “Building Thriving Communities: A Business Imperative.” Teddy Martinez, Sr. Research Manager at the San Diego Regional Economic Development Council, started by reviewing the regional economic development report. After that, Alexis Villanueva, Laura Valdes, and David Brooke of the City Heights Community Development Council (CHCDC), Valdes Language Services, and Mypoint Credit Union, respectively, shared their collaboration. In particular, I found the CHCDC’s SD Food Justice Project excellent. It is an 8-week business accelerator for street vendors to develop their businesses. During COVID-19, many service industry people shifted to street vending to make ends meet. These micro-businesses can provide stability for lower-income groups and stimulate the community economy. There are still many challenges. However, the perspectives of the participants give me hope.
The San Diego ecology of changemakers is healthy. This conference has revealed new horizons of collaboration to me. The inventiveness and work ethic of attendees was inspiring.
I must thank Conscious Capitalism San Diego and the University of San Diego for providing my ticket through a special partnership.