WASHINGTON, DC (October 23, 2012) – The Hitachi Foundation is honoring five business leaders from four enterprises with the Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs award. Now in its third year, the competitive program recognizes America’s newest generation of entrepreneurs whose businesses are about making a living and making a difference.
Whether they are supporting and placing welfare-to-work candidates in South Florida; creating learning laboratories for building energy-efficient affordable housing across the U.S.; revitalizing rural farming in the Ozarks; or infusing economic vitality and self-employment opportunities in Chicago’s “food deserts,” these young entrepreneurs combine their passion to make a difference with business acumen to achieve purpose in the pursuit of profit.
The Foundation is committed to discovering and spreading powerful yet practical approaches that illuminate the role of business as a partner in strengthening society. The Foundation starts by finding young business leaders between ages 18 and 30 who are leading the way to future business and societal opportunities — those succeeding at finding unexpected solutions to persistent, structural social challenges by using the tools of business to make a positive social impact. In addition to a $40,000 grant, Awardees receive leadership development, business mentoring, technical assistance and access to a network of peers and advisers from partner organizations — including Investors' Circle, Social Venture Network, B Lab, and PICnet.
“American capitalism is a story of ongoing tension between two seemingly contradictory ideas: business as the pursuit of profit and business as a means to secure a better society,” says Barbara Dyer, President and CEO of The Hitachi Foundation. “These entrepreneurs show us that we need not make a choice between purpose and profit, and that business innovation in the social realm is abundant.”
Who are these young 2012 Yoshiyama entrepreneurs?
BOULD LLC., Shane Gring and Stephen Lepke – (Denver, CO). BOULD utilizes partnerships with affordable housing builders, such as Habitat for Humanity, to provide comprehensive project experience and continuous education programming in meeting the sustainable housing needs of low-wealth individuals.
FALLING SKY FARM, Cody Hopkins – (Marshall, Arkansas). Falling Sky Farm is a small, diversified grass-based livestock farm located 100 miles north of Little Rock in the Ozark Mountains. It aims to establish a profitable, environmentally-friendly demonstration farm, which promotes a local food system that produces great tasting, nutrient rich foods; works in harmony with nature; and reinvigorates the local economy, all while meeting the health and nutritional needs of low-income and underserved rural individuals and families.
NEIGHBOR CAPITAL, John Piercy – (Chicago, IL). Neighbor Capital is a social-purpose business that creates job opportunities for the unemployed and underemployed. Through its network of leased Neighbor Carts, the business brings healthy foods to urban “food deserts” and lower-wealth neighborhoods in Chicago.
WORKSQUARE, Vanessa Bartram – (Miami, FL). WorkSquare is dedicated to improving persistent conditions surrounding low-wage workers in South Florida. In addition to job placement, the enterprise empowers its job seekers by providing work readiness support, financial literacy training, and skill building for upward mobility.
Additional 2012 Finalists
Wash Cycle Laundry, Gabriel Mandujano – (Philadelphia, PA). Wash Cycle Laundry delivers laundry on bicycles to consumers and businesses and washes it using cost-competitive processes that drastically reduce water and energy usage. The company hires former welfare recipients and is pioneering a set of replicable management practices that transform reputed dead-end jobs into launching pads for upward mobility.
Hear It Local, Inc., Matt Lombardi – (San Francisco, CA). Hear It Local is a social platform that empowers local music, bringing together fans, event planners, and local music venues to discover and book local musicians for live shows and private concerts. It provides local, independent musicians — which include a larger percentage of low-wealth individuals who juggle part-time and seasonal work — with access to more regular paying music gigs.
TechChange, Nick Martin – (Washington, DC). TechChange delivers highly social and affordable online certificate courses focused on building tech skills to address urgent social challenges. Low-income students can access TechChange courses through a crowd-funding program.
Eco Ride, Joel Brooks – (Boston, MA). Eco Ride provides high-quality group transportation services to non-profit organizations and members of urban communities at an affordable price. Consumers that book with Eco Ride are able to save time and money with discounted rates to various museums, recreational parks, and other attractions.
The Good Life Organization, Roberto Rivera and Jennifer Leavitt-Moy – (Chicago, IL). The Good Life Organization creates “edutainment” products and training that empower educators to effectively engage youth of color in culturally relevant and research-based ways. Youth cultivate creative, social, and emotional skills, resulting in increased academic achievement, healthier relationships, and both entrepreneurial and civic engagement.
The Hitachi FoundationSince its founding in 1987, The Hitachi Foundation has evolved into one of this nation's philanthropic leaders in the field of corporate social responsibility with a special focus on expanding business practices that create tangible and enduring economic opportunities for low-wealth Americans, their families and the communities in which they reside. The Foundation believes that business has an essential role to play in addressing the many complex global challenges of our time. Its mission is to forge an authentic integration of business actions and societal well-being in the United States by discovering and expanding business practices that measurably improve people’s lives and enhance business value. The Yoshiyama Young Entrepreneurs Program is a nationally competitive program, open to those operating viable businesses in the United States with the dual purpose of making a difference in alleviating poverty while making. Eligible entrepreneurs must have launched their business before they reached age 30. Their business must be between one and five years old.