Ideas for Impact Challenge Semi-finalists Announced

Earlier this year, some friends of mine in New York City with a desire to create a social enterprise that employs ex-offenders hosted an idea contest that received over 125 entries. On Monday, they announced their five semi-finalists:

  • Jurrien Swarts – Farm fresh food prepared into microwavable meals for locovores and people living in “food deserts”
  • Heather Burkman – Digitizing small business records and storing hard copies off-site
  • Nickalas Goettling – Seal coating asphalt roads and parking lots
  • Kendra Pierre-Louis – Restoring brownfields through phytoremediation
  • Michael Cozzolino – Manufacturing decorative architectural wood wall panels
On June 1, 2011, Spring Into Action will announce the finalist, a task I do not envy in light of the five excellent finalist ideas. At first glance, all seem to fill innovative and sustainable market niches while providing rich opportunities for employing individuals rebuilding lives. 

I am especially intrigued by the architectural wood wall panels idea because a few years back an architect suggested to us that a huge domestic market exists for pre-made exterior architectural features. The brownfields remediation business is also interesting because I believe there is a natural synergy that arises in social enterprises that combine job training of disadvantaged populations with recycling.

But in the end, these are all excellent ideas for organizations considering starting social enterprises to employ individuals with significant barriers to employability.


Scott E Pope said…
All five are great ideas. I liked the company that is doing what appears to be road surface remediation. We have a huge infrastructure in the US of streets, roads and parking lots that must be maintained. Manually intensive and fairly straight forward learning curve for the ee. Very cool... thanks for sharing this!

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