Philly Tech Week panel asks: Can city become national hub for social entrepreneurship?

Can Philadelphia become the hub for companies in the business of doing good? That was the question at a Philly Tech Week event at the University City Science Center Wednesday afternoon.

Garrett Melby is one of the founders of GoodCompany Ventures. The local firm offers an accelerator program to help mission-oriented businesses have the most impact.

“We really think that, as an investment proposition, unmet social needs are a source of new market opportunities,” he said. Melby says Philadelphia has plenty of social problems, which clever entrepreneurs could turn into a source of lucrative solutions.

John Moore is the president of Investors’ Circle Philadelphia. It’s the only local chapter of a national angel fund that invests in for-profit entities trying to affect social or environmental change.

“We have some unique components of the ecosystem here,” explained Moore.

That includes investors dedicated to the social entrepreneurship space, an incubator like GoodCompany and a new initiative from Philadelphia city government that just won a million dollars from Michael Bloomberg.

Moore — whose firm invests in local companies that deal with everything from biofuels to financial literacywaterway cleanup to genomics — says being the national hub for social entrepreneurship is still very much up for grabs.

“And I think Philadelphia has the opportunity,” Moore said, “if people can come together and create an entire ecosystem to support entrepreneurs” dedicated to making money while making a difference.

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