SVPRI: Orientation

Last Thursday we visited Social Venture Partners Rhode Island, a non-profit organization based in Providence.

We met with Kelly Ramirez, executive director of SVPRI.

“Kelly Ramirez is the Executive Director for Social Venture Partners Rhode Island (SVPRI). She has more than fifteen years of social enterprise and international development experience, advising NGOs, corporations and governments on civic engagement, sustainability, business development and advocacy. Kelly directed the Social Enterprise Initiative at the William Davidson Institute (WDI) and was an adjunct lecturer in Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. She has extensive fundraising, consulting and project management experience with organizations including Aid to Artisans, the Ford Foundation, the European Commission, USAID, the State Department, and Roche. She is active as a board member and volunteer with several non-profits. Previously, Kelly worked as a political analyst for the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service, an election monitor for the OSCE, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Slovakia. Kelly received MA Degrees in Public Policy and Urban Planning and a BA in political science from the University of Michigan where she has also done post-graduate work at the Ross School of Business. She was named a 2011 Woman to Watch by the Providence Business News.” – RISD Entrepreneur Mindshare

How SVPRI Works

Kelly provided us with a well-rounded orientation regarding the history and function of the organization. Highlights were as follows:

SVPRI was founded 10 years ago by 10 venture capitalists. The Social Venture Partner model was chosen by the group to serve as the basis for aiding social ventures through financial support. Initially, SVPRI gave grants to social enterprises in the area. Over time, SVPRI shifted and hired Kelly to improve the organization. Now SVPRI provides support for partner organizations and the Providence community through loans (filtered by a loan committe), a local youth social enterprise program, and a 9-week mentor based business incubator program. SVPRI aims to become a national leader in the Ecosystem Model of social venture support.

Twenty business leaders contribute their time and money as mentors and financial supporters for local social enterprises as part of what is known as the Ecosystem Model.

SVPRI’s Ecosystem Model:

1. Build a network of entrepreneurs as a volunteer workforce

2. Build a community of social enterprises to collaborate with one another

3. Connect these two

SVPRI is funded as follows:

25%  entrepreneur partners

50%  state & federal grants

25%  consulting, ticket sales, and other forms of income

Presentation of partner organizations for RISD collaboration:

The second part of our meeting consisted of an introduction to 6 SVPRI affiliate organizations from which to choose for deeper examination. We will be presenting our research findings and analysis of each organization in groups of 2 or 3 at the SEEED Conference at Brown University on April 26. Clicking on an organization’s name will take you to their home page.

Buy With Heart

Save Chocolateville

My Happy Shirts


Providence Granola

Riverz Edge Arts Project


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