News at Smith

The Right Fit: Three Models for Social Impact

Mar 01, 2013
Entrepreneurial Spirit


The 5th Annual Social Enterprise Symposium: “Here and Now” 
Friday, March 1, 2013, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Stamp Student Union, University of Maryland

Center for Social Value Creation

Traditional business models are focused on generating profits--the more, the better. But those models are being challenged by young, business-savvy, socially-conscious professionals who believe that business has the potential to drive social change. They are creating new ways and new spaces in which to do business.

The 2013 Social Enterprise Symposium brought together executives from several such companies in a panel titled “The Right Fit: Three Models for Social Impact,” to show students different kinds of structures for social enterprises.

Whole Foods is a profit-making corporation, but conducts itself as a "purpose-driven corporation," balancing strategy that grows the company and strategy that supports its mission. "We feel like we can only grow our impact when all of our stakeholders are happy," said Scott Allshouse, President, Mid-Atlantic Region. "We exchange money, we make profits, but we really believe that our growth and our ability to impact the world is through an even exchange, where everyone feels like it's a win."

Far at the other end of the business model spectrum is Nick Vilelle's CAUSE Philanthropub. It serves food and beer, just like any other neighborhood watering hole, but 100 percent of the profits are donated to a rotating collection of charities. VIlelle, his co-owners and staff receive salaries and hope to eventually give about $100,000 to charities each year.

Carbon War Room, which invests in technologies and businesses that create solutions to climate change, represented yet another type of social enterprise. "We are driving investment and finance into a space that is long overdue. Keep money moving--that is our mantra," said Ginna Newton, the company's CFO.

“The Right Fit: Three Models for Social Impact” panel was moderated by Curt Grimm, Charles A. Taff Chair of Economics and Strategy at the Smith School. Panelists included Scott Allshouse, President Mid-Atlantic region of Whole Foods; Nick Vilelle, Founder of CAUSE Philanthropub; Ginna Newton, CFO of Carbon War Room.

About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business 

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty masters, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.