As TechTown proudly claims, it helps “Detroit businesses launch and grow.” Although owning co-working space rental business, TechTown mainly serves as the hub of Detroit’s tech and neighborhood startups, connecting them and providing a variety of resources in hope of boosting their success. Through talking with different program leaders and attending staff meetings, I was not only impressed by the effort every employee is contributing to the Detroit community, but also deeply moved by seeing the life-changing developments for those local households or enterprises.
In particular, one mind-breaking program I learned is called SWOT City, which aimed at assisting brick-and-mortar small businesses in local neighborhoods. Instead of being entrepreneurs from distinguished education backgrounds as we normally would expect, participants of this program were typically local business owners who lacked necessary up-to-date resources to sustain their businesses, yet were eager to embrace any knowledge that would be helpful. One project some portfolio managers were focusing on right now was to help the boutique stores become more digitally advanced, part of which included helping some of the entrepreneurs learn the basic technology, such as how to set up credit cards payment in order to expand the range of their customers. Such accomplishment might seem negligible compared with stories featured in the fancy headlines of Wall Street Journal, but I felt more empathy toward listening to each manager reporting their progress of implementing this idea in their corresponding area, in how much people’s revenues have increased after their effort, and how those families’ lives have been changed and their businesses rescued.
I guess this is what social entrepreneurship really means to me: it needs not establish a massive revenue-generating mechanism that explicitly gives significant fortunes to the world, neither is it obliged to bring into existence revolutionary innovation that could save millions of lives in a second. Rather, it may start from the grassroots with minimal goals, but driven by the most sincere wishes of people to improve what is around them, and, step by step, one would see it flourishing, as a steady building block for a better future of society.