May 1 is deadline for social entrepreneurship program planned at WRI

Social entrepreneurs in Arkansas and beyond have an opportunity to learn from some of the best entrepreneurial minds and change agents from around the world.

The 2016 Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp will be held Friday, July 15, through Sunday, July 17, at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute atop Petit Jean Mountain in Arkansas.

Along with the Institute, the Clinton School of Public Service, the University of Arkansas Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub have partnered to put on the boot camp after a successful pilot program in 2015.

Applications for the boot camp are due by Sunday, May 1. Instructions for application and the application form can be found at

The boot camp is designed to assist aspiring social entrepreneurs in launching or growing their social enterprise. Each team at the boot camp will be assigned its own mentor. The mentors will coach and guide their teams through the three-day event. Topics that will be discussed include pitch training, scalability, identifying funding opportunities, measuring social metrics and ethics.

“The teams that came to the boot camp last summer had a lot of enthusiasm for how they could make a difference in the world through their business concept,” said Dr. Marta Loyd, executive director of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute. “They left the Institute with more confidence and poise, as well as a clearer sense of how to move their social enterprise forward.”

This year’s boot camp will see the return of some of last year’s mentors, such as Permjot Valia, a Canada-based entrepreneurial coach and angel investor; Jeff and Phyl Amerine, co-founders of Startup Junkie, a startup consulting firm in northwest Arkansas; and Dr. Carol Reeves, associate vice-provost for entrepreneurship at the University of Arkansas.
Some new faces will also be present this year, including Adjoa Kusiwaa Boateng, regional director for West Africa at MicroEnsure; Jeff Stinson, director of entrepreneurship at the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub; and David Moody, founder of Jacksson David and StartupDad.

Nikolai DiPippa, director of public programs and strategic partnerships at the Clinton School of Public Service, said, “Our lineup of speakers and mentors this year is top-notch. It’s a unique opportunity for the participants to be able to learn from such a wide and varied collection of talent and experience.”

Warwick Sabin, executive director of the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, said social entrepreneurship remains an important topic for Arkansas.

“Arkansas is well known for cultivating successful business entrepreneurs,” Sabin said. “The ability to direct that entrepreneurial energy toward social change is a vital piece of the economic development puzzle in our state.”

A key addition to this year’s partnership has been Dr. Rogelio Garcia Contreras, director of social innovation at the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. Contreras, founder of the Social Entrepreneurship Program at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, began his new post at the University of Arkansas in December and will serve as a mentor at the boot camp. Reeves called him “an invaluable addition” to the team.

“Dr. Contreras has brought a lot to the table,” Reeves said. “He has lent his expertise as we’ve fine-tuned the program, and he has reached out to help us bring in some of our great speakers and mentors.”

More information about the 2016 Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp is available at