Social enterprise opportunities:

live interviews with two non-profits


In this panel, two Austin-based non-profits will give participants a rare look into the decision-making process behind launching a social enterprise. Rude Mechanicals (a theater company) and Multicultural Refugee Coalition are both currently weighing the pros and cons of starting up a social enterprise connected to their non-profit activity.

In this interactive session, we will discuss and explore the variety of questions non-profit professionals and boards must ask themselves before going the social enterprise route. Is there a business opportunity here? Can we be cost-competitive? Where will our start-up capital come from? Where will follow-on capital come from if we need it? What is the primary goal for this enterprise: Profit or Social Impact? Who will manage this business? How does this work from a governance perspective? What are the "opportunity costs" of pursuing this path?


Session will take place in the Austin Ventures boardroom
Director of Giving
Jessica Shortall is the Director of Giving at TOMS Shoes, a fast-growing social enterprise that gives one pair of new shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes it sells ( Her work involves building long-term, high impact partnerships with organizations around the world that can use shoes to prevent disease and provide access to education to the world's poorest children. Through her work at TOMS she is also focused on raising the profile of podoconiosis (podo), one of the world's most neglected diseases which affects more than 1 million people in Ethiopia, and many more worldwide, and is preventable by wearing shoes ( Prior to TOMS, Jessica has been an entrepreneur, consultant, and operational nerd within social enterprises in the U.S. and internationally. She served in the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan; co-founded The Campus Kitchens Project (; received an MBA from Oxford University as a Skoll Scholar in Social Entrepreneurship; and spent several years in London working in the vibrant social enterprise scene there. She now calls Austin home.