Author Archives: ASSETS

Business creating cross-cultural experiences takes first place in the Great Social Enterprise Pitch

After a lifetime of dreaming, four months of intense training and business model development, several weeks of crowdfunding, and countless hours spent perfecting their pitches, the five finalists pitched their social enterprise ideas to a prestigious panel of judges at a sold-out Ware Center in downtown Lancaster.

Not only did the crowd hear from these 5 entrepreneurs, but they were also inspired by Tyler Gage, Co-founder of RUNA, about his journey in doing business with heart.

Congratulations to Bridge, who took home the top prize.  

A full list of results is as follows:

First Place
Bridge — $7,500 Cash Prize and $27,138 in pro-bono services ($34,638 total)

Second Place
Meraki Mocha — $4,000 Cash Prize and $15,800 in pro-bono services ($19,800 total)

Third Place
Lancaster Fellow Foodies — $2,000 Cash Prize and $9,940 in pro-bono services ($11,940 total)

Fourth Place
Language Beyond Borders — $1,000 Cash Prize and $3,640 in pro-bono services ($4,640 total)

Fifth Place
Green Matters Natural Dye Co. — $500 Cash Prize and $2,390 in pro-bono services ($2,890 total)

Audience Vote
Bridge — Audience donations of $1,016

Don’t forget to check out the crowdfunding campaigns for all 11 participants! The campaigns are open until tonight at midnight.

Thank you to all the wonderful sponsors, we could not have done this without your support! Thank you to the judges, who had a formidable task before them. And thank you to the supporters who attended this event.


Be on the lookout for applications to enter next year’s competition. Applications will be due Spring 2018!

Meet the Judges for this year’s LIVE Pitch

ASSETS is pleased to announce the panel of experts that will be judging this year’s LIVE Pitch. The top five social enterprise ideas will present a five minute pitch, receiving a score based on presentation, content, potential impact, and financial sustainability.

The panel of renowned judges include:

Deb Brandt, Owner and Creative Director, Fig Industries

Smokey Glover, Director of Fair and Responsible Banking, Fulton Bank

Daniel Falcon, Owner, Old San Juan Restaurant, Rum Bar, and The Cellar on Market

Olayinka Credle, Co-Founder, Melanin Essentials (2016 Social Enterprise Pitch 1 st Place)

Alex Brame, Senior Vice President – Lancaster & Lebanon Market President, BB&T

The Great Social Enterprise Pitch, Lancaster’s social enterprise idea incubator and business plan competition, is a friendly competition facilitated by the Lancaster County Community Foundation and ASSETS.  The Pitch, now in its fourth year, is designed to empower local social enterprise ideas. This year’s LIVE Pitch will take place on Friday, October 6.

The 2017 Great Social Enterprise Pitch was open to individuals or organizations that have a social enterprise idea or would like to learn more about the concept. Participants followed a free 4-step process on a learning quest including the final LIVE Pitch which will result in cash prizes and pro bono services for strong social enterprise plans.


Tyler Gage, Cofounder of RUNA Tea, to Speak at the LIVE Pitch

The LIVE Pitch event will feature a keynote address from entrepreneur, author and speaker Tyler Gage, Cofounder of RUNA TeaTyler uses wisdom from the Amazon and start-up success to bring innovation and inspiration to growing organizations.

Tyler has spent the last 12 years studying with indigenous elders in the Amazon rainforest, venturing far from his suburban roots at the age of 20. After graduating from Brown University, Tyler turned down a Fulbright grant to start RUNA, a social enterprise that makes energizing beverages with guayusa, a rare Amazonian leaf, and improves livelihoods for 3,000 indigenous farming families in Ecuador. With over 70 employees and 15,000 stores selling RUNA beverages in the US and Canada, RUNA has grown in to one of the 500 Fastest Growing Companies in the US according to Inc Magazine.

Tyler was named a Forbes “30 Under 30 Entrepreneur” and winner of both the Big Apple Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Specialty Food Association’s Citizen Leader of the Year Award.  ABC Nightline, National Geographic and Richard Branson’s book Screw Business As Usual have all featured Tyler for his unique and powerful approach to building businesses and creating social good.

Tyler also serves on the Board of Directors of DavidsTea (NASDAQ: DTEA) and on the Advisory Council for Entrepreneurship at Brown University. In addition to advising and investing in other start-ups, Tyler is a co-founding partner and strategic advisor to NAKU, a pioneering indigenous healing center in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Tyler lives in Bellingham, Washington with his wife Michelle and enjoys boxing, yoga, riding his unicycle and studying ethnobotany.

The LIVE Pitch is open to the public on Friday, October 6 at 7 pm at the Ware Center in Lancaster. The Live Pitch is the final step in the Great Social Enterprise Pitch process that launched in March. Tickets are still on sale!

Introducing the Business for Good Expo

We are thrilled to announce the inaugural Business For Good Expo, which will take place before and after the Great Social Enterprise LIVE Pitch. The purpose of the expo is to give conscious-minded Lancastrians exposure to the local social enterprises who are using business as a force for good in the world.

The Expo will include over 30 social enterprises and B Corporations. Doors open for the Expo at 5pm and will continue after the Live Pitch comes to an end, from 8:45-10pm.

The LIVE Pitch is open to the public on Friday, October 6 at 7 pm at the Ware Center in Lancaster. The Live Pitch is the final step in the Great Social Enterprise Pitch process that launched in March. Get your LIVE Pitch tickets today!



After 4 months of intense business plan development and 2 weeks of crowdfunding, the five finalists have finally been selected. Congratulations to these social enterprises!


1. Bridge – Connecting​ ​communities​ ​through​ ​shared​ ​experiences.

2. Green Matters Natural Dye Company – Bringing pollution-free color to the textile industry.

3. Lancaster Fellow Foodies – Making​ ​healthy​ ​dinners​ ​easy​ ​while​ ​creating​ ​meaningful​ ​jobs​ ​and​ ​advancing​ ​eco-friendly​ ​farming.

4. Language Beyond Borders – Building communication. Bridging cultures. Creating jobs.

5. Meraki Mocha – Empowering people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through a farm-to-table café.

Please join us at the Ware Center Friday, October 6, 2017 to watch the final Live Pitch during which the ultimate winner of the 2017 Great Social Enterprise Pitch will be chosen!

Doors open at 5 pm for the “Business for Good” Expo, and the Pitches will begin at 7 pm, followed by a presentation from Tyler Gage, Cofounder of RUNA Tea.

Meet the 2017 Great Social Enterprise Pitch Participants!

Congratulations to the eleven social enterprise idea teams that will move forward as part of the 2017 Great Social Enterprise Pitch!

These teams were selected by organizers from a pool of 36 applicants to participate in the free Idea Incubators involving a robust four-month learning program designed to develop the proposed social enterprise ideas. Applicant ideas were evaluated based on the clarity of problem the enterprise addresses, the enterprise’s proposed impact on that problem, the demand for the proposed products or services, the potential for profitability, and the leadership of the enterprise and its capacity to scale to address the problem. Preference was given to ideas that develop or support thriving wage jobs for people with barriers to employment.

Check out the 2017 Ideas:

Fellow Foodies
Healthy, locally-sourced, prepared meals delivered to busy families and produced by employees who previously struggled to find a good job with good wages.

Fruition Collective
An event space in downtown Lancaster for underrepresented artists and entrepreneurs.

Green Matters Natural Dye Company
Bringing pollution-free color to the textile industry.

Languages Beyond Borders
Supplying the Lancaster community and neighboring communities with trained, professional interpreters hired from the local refugee population.

Meraki Mocha
Empowering individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities through a farm-to-table café.

Mind, Body, Battle Incubator
Empowering the mind, fueling the body, and using athletics to strengthen the community.

An innovative cleaning service using environmentally-friendly products and ensuring a living wage for cleaners.

Nepali Spice Company
Customized Asian spice blends for restaurant, manufactured by Nepali refugee women.

Popped Culture
A gourmet popcorn company that connects youth with jobs, mentor-ship, and entrepreneurship training.

The Townie
A publication featuring local artists and writers who represent the entire community.

A restaurant serving food from countries that have recently been banned from entry into the United States and staffed by refugees.

The 11 teams will attend a four-month series of learning sessions led by ASSETS focused on feasibility and business planning. In September, they will each launch a crowdfunding campaign to generate awareness and dollars in support of their concept. Five concepts from the Idea Incubators will then be invited to pitch their ideas to a live audience for over $50,000 in cash prizes and pro-bono services at the LIVE Pitch.

We’re so excited to see these ideas grow, evolve, and blossom! Keep checking back for more information as we progress through the 2017 Great Social Enterprise Pitch! Also, follow us on social media to stay in the loop during the Incubator phase of the competition. Search #InsideTheIncubator on Facebook and Instagram to follow along the journey!

Transforming Communities through Business

Are you interested in how to use business for good in your community, but not quite ready to participate in the Great Social Enterprise Pitch?  Are you a small business owner who wants to create a stronger and more sustainable local economy? Please join us as we network and learn with other businesses interested in being part of a local movement to impact Lancaster for good.

This breakfast series is hosted by ASSETS Lancaster, in conjunction with the Susquehanna Sustainable Business Network (SSBN.) Assets creates economic opportunity and cultivates entrepreneurial leadership in order to alleviate poverty and build vibrant, sustainable communities. SSBN advocates for the triple bottom line – People, Planet and Profit – through business networking, advocacy and education.

These monthly 90-minute programs feature a range of solutions and opportunities to grow a stronger, more profitable and more equitable local economy. This is an opportunity to be a part of a supportive network that is interested in joining an emerging local movement around Triple Bottom Line Businesses to impact Lancaster for good. Each month, our keynote address will focus on topic related to increasing the impact of small business within our community. There will be significant time for discussion and networking at each session.

The topics are based on the “Stepping Stones to Prosperity” of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economics(BALLE.) The schedule is listed below.

Each session will be held at Southern Market Center on the first Tuesday of the month from 7:30 am to 9:00 am. The breakfasts will be catered by Upohar Ethnic Cuisines, a Triple Bottom Line Social Enterprise and SSBN member. The cost for each session is $15.

May 5 – Local First
June 2 – Shared Ownership
July 7 – Opportunity for All
August 4 – Innovation for Good
September 1 – Soil and Nature
October 6 – Community Capital
November 3 – Localist Policies

For more information or to register for a session, contact or 717-393-6089 ext 223.

Choosing the 12

Last week, representatives from ASSETS Lancaster and the Lancaster County Community Foundation got together to choose the social enterprise ideas for the 2015 Great Social Enterprise Pitch.

This was a long and painful process.

We received 33 applications, which needed to be narrowed down to 10 participants.  Some ideas had great potential for impact, others great potential for profit.  We were looking for those 10 ideas that fit both criteria.  Some ideas were (in our opinions) realistically going to be traditional non-profits and others traditional businesses—those ideas had to go.  We were looking for the best SOCIAL ENTERPRISE ideas.

Choosing the top 5 ideas was simple, these very quickly rose to the top.  The next 4 were more difficult, but eventually agreed upon by the group.  That left us with 1 spot open, yet we had 3 remaining ideas that merited consideration.  After an extra hour of debate, we finally decided that we had created the rules to the competition, so we were entitled to break them!  We increased our participants to 12 and called it a day.

So, 21 prospective social entrepreneurs had to receive a disappointing email stating that they would not be joining us for the 2015 program.  However, there is still hope.  This is part of the message they received:

Please know that we had a large number of outstanding applications which made the decision process VERY difficult.  It should be noted that several of the ideas accepted into the 2015 Pitch actually applied last year as well, but were not chosen at that time.  These applicants used the year to further refine their idea so as to submit a better application this year.  We were very happy to see that these rejuvenated ideas again and we sincerely hope to see an application from you in the future.

We fully expect to see many of these 21 applicants again in future renditions of The Pitch.

For 2015, however, we move forward with these 12 social enterprise ideas.  Some (maybe most) of these ideas will not come to fruition.  THAT IS OK.  The purpose of this competition is to motivate creative people to generate creative ideas, then guide them through the process of forming and testing those ideas.   We have full confidence that, in due time, a number of these social enterprise ideas will take off, creating substantial impact in our community while also inspiring even creative ideas.