Exploring Possibilities with Social Entrepreneurship

Written by Jessica Cox | June 9, 2015

Photos of Karen and Virginia Ingram

Today we start a series of blog posts contributed by select Advisory Board members. Hear their stories, read about their experiences as entrepreneurs and follow the sessions they're most excited to see at V2V.

The post below was written by Karen Ingram (website, Twitter) and Virginia Ingram (website, Twitter), a sister duo who have been working in the digital and start-up space since the late 1990’s. The Ingram Sisters have been attending, presenting and curating SXSW events since the late 1990’s/early 2000’s.

Between SXSW and SXSW V2V we have a geek spring break and geek summer vacation planned just about every year. This July we will make the trek from the east coast to the hotter climes of NV. In this version of Vegas, we’ll find inspiration with like-minded folks: away from the glitter and glam of the Vegas strip huddled in an air conditioned oasis, the glamorous Bellagio. We’ll be talking about things like social entrepreneurship and the evolution of makers and entrepreneurs.

We take conferences and vacations seriously, believing stepping outside of your comfort zone helps you see things you don’t usually see. You get new ideas when you are being brave and trying new things. We’re both fervent believers technology has made our lives better -- and will continue to do so -- but we also find ourselves using our devices to check in more than we should. With our constantly connected selves we often find ourselves checking in, even when on vacation.

When we travel to other countries, the siren song of email isn’t quite as loud. In spite of the glut of vacation “hot dog legs” that populate Instagram (Karen admits to taking a hot dog leg photo ONCE, but only as a joke), we believe the rise of social entrepreneurship ideas in recent years is because we aren’t connected to technology in the same ways when we step into a completely new environment. Our eyes are open and we transform into keen observers. We take in information. We question, inquire and develop new perspectives.

Many entrepreneurs will tell you their innovative solutions came to them when they were not expecting, or looking for, new ideas. Social entrepreneurs look to solve social problems taking into account a positive impact to society. While looking over the SXSW V2V programming, we found several origin stories supporting our theory.

Photo of Barrett WardWhen Barrett Ward moved to Ethiopia, he learned one of the biggest challenges to keeping women off the streets is gainful employment. He conceived fashionABLE, a company that helps Ethiopian women start business cooperatives to employ women with fair wages and hiring practices.

Photos of Todd Grinnell and Ravi PatelA few years ago the team who founded This Bar Saves Lives traveled to Africa for a humanitarian trip. On that trip they witnessed severe, acute malnutrition. While there, they saw a nutrition bar named Plumpy’Nut® used to bring children from the brink of starvation. They were inspired to make their own nutrition bar for the US market to raise awareness and funds to fight malnutrition around the world.

Photo of Kirsten DickersonKirsten Dickerson’s international documentary film work had her travelling the world telling the stories of those who are marginalized. As she, and her family, witnessed these events, she realized she wanted to do more. With her design partner, Sophia Lin, she founded Raven + Lily a socially conscious lifestyle brand employing women in India, Ethiopia, Kenya, Cambodia, Pakistan, Guatemala and the USA. Raven + Lily de-marginalizes these women by providing access to a safe job, sustainable income, health care and education helping them break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families.

Their origin stories happened because of an experience outside of their normal day-to-day lives.

And they’re good for business, with consumers today spending more time on the internet researching their purchases.

We encourage you to take a trip and step outside of your daily life. When you go on a quest to explore to something new, an innovative idea might just find you.

You can hang out with the Ingram sisters and see Barrett Ward, Todd Grinnell, Ravi Patel and Kirsten Dickerson speak at SXSW V2V this July in Vegas... and if you take a picture of your hot dog legs by the pool, we won’t judge.

Remember, SXSW V2V registration prices increase next week! Buy your badge before Friday, June 19 to save $100 off the walkup rate. And if you're still in need of a hotel, the SXSW Housing Department has discounted rooms available at the official conference hotel, the Bellagio Las Vegas.