By Adam Gustine
Over the past month, we’ve been working through the base vision of CovEnterprises. What is this project all about? In the coming weeks, we will start to explore the connection between social enterprise and justice. As a major initiative of LMDJ, we see this as critical in the work of seeking God’s shalom in the world, so stay tuned!
Today, we want to wrap up this initial series. We’ve looked at how CovEnterprises has 3 major goals; LAUNCHING new enterprises through ECC across the country, COACHING leaders and churches in the work of enterprise and economic development, and CONNECTING practitioners in a community of support and encouragement. As we begin the work of building out CovEnterprises though, we have one more major goal in mind; TESTING.
Honing concepts, testing models
Social enterprise is a work of innovation to be sure, but in some cases, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes, its possible to hone a model and implement a contextualized version of that model somewhere else. I say contextualized because we are committed to resisting the ‘one size fits all’ model of franchising ministry. BUT, there are business models that work really well in local contexts that can easily be adapted in multiple locations.
For example, lawn care is a business model that has a defined geographic reach. Because of that, a lawn care social enterprise can be replicated in communities across the country in ways that are culturally and contextually appropriate. A lawn care company in Philadelphia does not lose marketshare if another lawn care company pops up in Pittsburgh. This is a transferable model that we believe can resist an unhelpful cookie cutter approach.
But are there other business models with similar characteristics? We believe there are. That is why we are committed to TESTING business concepts and taking the learning and insight we gain as we LAUNCH and refining particular business models so that practitioners can more easily apply them to their own local context. We are in the process of developing vision for innovation hubs, where we can test and hone business concepts and creating business plan process templates which walk folks through the business side of LAUNCHING a new venture.
The business planning side of social enterprise, often the more intimidating part, is a piece of the process we are committed to developing resources that not only reflect best practice but can transfer well between contexts. TESTING and honing ideas, concepts and models is how we plan to do that.
In the end, it is on the ministry side of social enterprise that we want to work with you to hone a contextually appropriate, God driven vision specific to your local context. Its important to us that the local work of social enterprise be rooted in the story of the neighborhood and the story of God at work in the community. This isn’t something you can prepackage and test. There will be best practices and ways of determining and evaluating your impact, but we want to trust that the Spirit is at work, and that if we pay attention to that work, in community, that we can discern the specific ways in which God’s shalom might take root in each community; in every neighborhood.
So there it is…LAUNCH, COACH, CONNECT, TEST. CovEnterprises in a nutshell. This is how we hope to join God’s mission of making everything new and right; partnering with ECC churches and ministries to Launch Opportunity and Incubate Shalom.