General manager of eroots speaks at Marshall

first_imgThe Marshall Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab hosted a “Lunch & Learn” event at the Ronald Tutor Campus Center on Thursday afternoon. The featured speaker was Alex Dorsey, general manager of pop-up produce market eroots, who talked about her experience with the business and the knowledge she has gained from working there.The eroots program provides organic fruits and vegetables to consumers with modest means. The social enterprise sells its packed boxes at schools and businesses so the food can be conveniently picked up during a busy schedule.Dorsey said social enterprises differ from other businesses because they directly affect people through positive change.“The one thing that social enterprise does that is very different than business as a whole is the commitment to make a difference — some social impact,” Dorsey said. “I encourage you to really think about that as you plan … what you’re going to do after graduating.”Enoch Kim, student intern for the Social Enterprise Lab, said he believes businesses shouldn’t solely focus on money.“We need to focus on our future,” Kim said. “The social capital of moving forward in generations to come will be very much impacted by your efforts today. As business students, you cannot be always profit-minded; you have to take into consideration the social well-being of the community around you.”According to Dorsey, a structured system is very important when trying to create positive change with others. Dorsey said eroots reached out to communities for the answers it needed.“Policy is fundamental in anything that has to do with food … and the environment,” Dorsey said. “We created a leadership program that would educate residents on defining for themselves what a healthy community is and what’s needed to ensure access to healthy food within the community you advocate for yourself, especially when you’re in survival mode and you have to work a couple jobs.”Even after setting up a successful infrastructure, Dorsey said businesses have to be prepared for the worst and ready to respond.“You have to be able to pivot,” Dorsey said. “You can do all the planning and have the focus groups and have a great business plan, but when you get on the ground, challenges will arise and you have to be nimble in your thinking. What happens when your lead farm goes out of business because of the drought and they didn’t have enough capital to sustain them and all of the sudden the food that you committed to every single week doesn’t have a source?”In addition, Dorsey said social enterprises need reliable backup for a bad situation.“Numerous challenges come up that you can’t even begin to imagine,” Dorsey said. “In your thinking about social enterprise, you got to have the resources both in terms of cash and people within your network to help you think creatively, so you can continue to grow and serve.”Roshan Jayanti, a junior majoring in global health, said he was glad Dorsey talked about both the good and bad experiences one might encounter  in developing a social enterprise.“There’s a certain ambition involved in social enterprise…but I think there is also a stark reality and kind of a harshness of this situation of… funding and financing, and the discrepancy between how much it costs to do one of these projects and how feasible it is, and I think Alex balanced [those two topics] very well,” Jayanti said. “My interest lies more in health, where, unfortunately, the prices are even more expensive and the discrepancies are even larger, but kind of seeing the creativity she used…[is] illuminating, as a lot of the students in this room go into social enterprise positions.”The “Lunch & Learn” event was the last of the series for the spring, but the Brittingham Social Enterprise Lab said it will continue to host events next semester.last_img read more