What is a CommunityEnterprise, anyway?


We’ve been asked before what a “Community Enterprise” really is. For CIE, it’s the bones of our programs, the program that does what we mainly do—helping people start businesses. While our name, the Center for Inclusive Entrepreneurship may seem formal, CommunityEnterprise™ is meant to hold a more grassroots mentality and way of starting a business.

It all starts with an idea. Not funding or a business loan, not a business plan necessarily, but an idea that you think about, do some research about, and put out to the world. We believe in starting with what you have, where you’re at, and not waiting until the “if onlies” come true. It goes beyond that though, because anyone can start a business with the right tools and the tools are available in so many different formats, structures, and styles. Really, there's something out there for every learning style and business building style. 

Can anyone start a CommunityEnterprise though? Well, yes, they can. The real questions is WILL they, and will you?

That leads us back to what is a CommunityEntprise. It’s a business, certainly. It could be a nonprofit’s social enterprise wing, or a small business started in a living room, or a business that starts with staff and a physical location and even a loan.

When our members think of when they think of a “community enterprise” they probably think about a business mentor who helped them along the way, and their own plans to help someone else in the future. It could be an informal mentorship (the store across the street from yours warned you that you really do need quite a bit of Halloween candy to keep up with the neighborhood trick-or-treating event) or it could be more formal (someone who has been in business for years and years sits down with you to discuss how to grow your business without neglecting your family and personal life).

A CommunityEnterprise is built from the ingredients of:

  • People: A CommunityEnterprise helps  others, thinking about social justice, hiring locally, providing living wages, and considering the health and wellbeing of any staff
  • The Planet: A CommunityEnterprise puts more back into the environment as a regenerative business rather than a business that takes and takes, leaving the world worse off for the sake of the bottom line
  • And Profit: Yes, profit is important to a CommunityEnterprise. The entrepreneur (that’s you!) must be able to support themselves or improve their lives through their business.

This includes buying and selling locally, giving back when possible and however possible, creating a business or product that is a does good for the world.

So, how do you do this? Start with why, as Simon Sinek proposes. CIE’s why is to help create CommunityEnterprises. What is your why?

And please don’t stop with “why.” Think about who your own personal “why” creates economic and entrepreneurial opportunities for you and your community.

Need help? You’re invited to join CommunityEnterprise. Or drop us an email if you want to talk more.