Washington, D.C. is a “cause”-oriented city. Nevertheless, these four quadrants are home to a vast, untapped potential for positive change. In particular, as the crossroads of policy, non-profit, and government, Washington, D.C. has the opportunity to be the “go-to” hub for social enterprises. With so many connections to philanthropic and policy organizations, social impact companies have the chance to connect with key players in every social issue imaginable. Moreover, for globally oriented social enterprises, D.C. boasts a diverse population of almost every nationality in the world and presents access to powerful government officials and diplomats. Given these unique attributes, D.C. is poised to become a social enterprise powerhouse.
While the startup culture of Silicon Valley or New York might be more pronounced and established, the D.C. entrepreneurship scene is undoubtedly blossoming. With the introduction of 1776, D.C. Entrepreneurship Week, and other initiatives, the city has begun to attract more entrepreneurs to its borders. Recognizing this shift, many organizations, such as D.C. Social Innovation Project, WeSparkt, and Impact Hub D.C., have sprouted up to provide resources for social enterprises. Additionally, established institutions such as Net Impact have opened chapters in D.C. to cater to the burgeoning social impact programs at local graduate schools. Even universities have begun to address the growing field of social enterprises through initiatives such as Georgetown’s Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI) and American University’s Social Enterprise Association (SEA). These groups help support students interested in becoming involved in social enterprises in the United States and abroad.
Notably, the first ever “Lean In for Social Good Summit” presented by Lean Impact will take place in on March 26th in D.C. This conference and networking opportunity aims to educate social enterprises and non-profits how to apply “lean principles” to improve their operations. This event marks one of many budding opportunities for D.C. social entrepreneurs to engage with other entrepreneurs and non-profit leaders to grow their businesses. Looking ahead, these types of gatherings present a chance to develop a “SocEnt” culture in D.C. and create an environment where socially conscious entrepreneurs want to thrive.