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New PSU program supports entrepreneurs using business for social change
Author: David Santen, Office of University Communications
Posted: March 2, 2011

(Portland, Ore.) March 2, 2011 — A new program at Portland State University (PSU) is helping start-up businesses that share a mission of social change.

The Circuit Program is six-month social entrepreneurship training course and mentoring program for a cohort of budding innovators. Selected through an intensive review process, Circuit Program participants meet on a monthly basis with coaches, and share experiences with others going through the arduous start-up process.

Guest mentors, including leading local and national figures in social entrepreneurship, will provide assistance to members throughout the program. PSU professors Cindy Cooper, Brenda Eichelberger and Tichelle Sorensen and PSU MBA alumnus Jacen Greene provide ongoing coaching and leadership.

The 2011 cohort includes a mobile food market launched by PSU business students, a software company providing services to the philanthropic sector, and a hot sauce company using profits to support “sacred projects” around the world. (See extended profiles below.)

The Circuit Program is part of Impact EntrepreneursSocial Innovation Incubator (SII) at PSU’s School of Business Administration. Circuit Program entrepreneurs can graduate to the SII’s Vector Program which delivers highly customized start-up support during the course of a year and provides real world consulting projects to PSU graduate business students.

“The Circuit Program is an exciting addition to our portfolio and serves multiple entrepreneurial needs,” says Cindy Cooper, Social Innovation Incubator founder. “It delivers mentorship and best practices that accelerate the start-up process, offers cost savings for start-up resources, and generates connections among entrepreneurs that will live beyond the program itself.”

For more information on how to apply to the next Circuit Program, visit or contact Cindy Cooper (

Profiles of the 2011 Circuit Program entrepreneurs and incubator projects:
Entrepreneur: Georgia Kirkpatrick
Incubating: Silvania, the mission of which is to inspire global citizenship with clothing that captures the allure of Peruvian heritage while enhancing the fashion industry’s stewardship of natural resources. These business-casual clothes use organic cotton and alpaca fabric embellished with traditional and modern designs; materials and designs are sourced from indigenous partners.

Entrepreneur: Amelia Pape (MBA candidate, Portland State University; other team members include MBA students Colin Gallison and Scott Robinson)
Incubating: Fork in the Road, a mobile food market with an innovative distribution model that will improve health and quality of life in marginalized communities by bringing healthy foods to urban food deserts—areas with little or no access to the foods needed to maintain a healthy diet.

Entrepreneur: Russ Finkelstein
Incubating: The International Graduate School & Fellowship Fair, bringing together Americans with a desire to study and learn abroad with the institutions that are eager to recruit them. Proceeds from this enterprise will help to fund All Your Possibilities, a national nonprofit that supports LGBT young people (ages 13–24) and their support networks of teachers, counselors, friends and family in finding and achieving career and life goals.

Entrepreneur: Sylvia M. Dickinson
Incubating: Social Innovation Systems, Inc., a software solutions development firm dedicated to improving the financial and operational efficacy of the philanthropic sector and to building new infrastructure for the growing social entrepreneurship movement. The company works to enable organizations to adopt innovative social funding and investment programs, increase levels of service without increasing staff, increase giving and returns and improve the quality of reporting.

Entrepreneur: Sean Patrick
Incubating: Million Monarchs, a solar and wind power company promoting development and installation of renewable energy solutions that empower communities and all participants in the supply chain—from miners and mining communities to installers, manufacturers and end-users.

Entrepreneur: Jesse Thompson
Incubating: Mama’s Fire Gourmet Sauces, a line of Tibetan sauces made with Northwest ingredients. Funds generated will go to support Sacred Works, a 501(c)3 created to award grants and scholarships to individuals working on “sacred” projects—defined as anything that brings “loving kindness into the world.”

About the Social Innovation Incubator:
Impact Entrepreneurs’ Social Innovation Incubator (SII) works to catalyze entrepreneurial initiatives that have high potential to mitigate social and environmental problems. Founded in 2010, SII provides tailored business strategy advising, MBA consulting teams, and access to investors and experts for its Vector Program members, currently: Sustainable Harvest, Preciva, Central City Concern, and The Tipping Bucket. The Circuit Program was made possible through generous donations from Ater Wynne LLP, Nike, Carolyn E. McKnight and the many sponsors offering discounts on business services and workshops to participants.

About Impact Entrepreneurs:
A program of the School of Business Administration at Portland State University, Impact Entrepreneurs is a network of individuals and organizations committed to unleashing the power of business for economic, social and ecological prosperity. Working with partners locally and globally, Impact Entrepreneurs delivers initiatives that strengthen organizations, build entrepreneurial leaders, and catalyze social innovation. In addition to the Social Innovation Incubator, Impact Entrepreneurs’ current initiatives include:

Entrepreneurial Leaders Program (ELP), providing business education and training to strengthen organizational leadership across sectors—corporate, nonprofit, public, and social enterprise—and has been conducted internationally with country leaders from Mercy Corps and Digital Divide Data and locally with managers from The Standard. Learn about our partnership with Mercy Corps at
Social Enterprise Tours (SET), exposing students and community members to successful social enterprises in India and Nicaragua. Participants and locals exchange expertise across sectors and cultures, enhancing their capacity as impact leaders.

# # #

News Release:
For Immediate Release (#11-020)

By: David Santen, Office of University Communications
Portland State University | 503-725-8765

Source: Cindy Cooper, Social Innovation Incubator
School of Business Administration, Portland State University