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Social enterprises thrive in Middle Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, TENN. (HAGGARD) — When a church campus closed in the Wedgewood-Houston area of Nashville, the building was left to the community. So a church opened up in part of the space and what was the fellowship hall was transformed into a donation-based coffee shop called Crest Café.

April Kirby, director of community caffeine and culture, says patrons can pay as little as much as they want and the proceeds will go back into the community, and to a chosen nonprofit.

"We have people giving 75 cents to $20. It just depends on what you can give and what you feel like your experience has been worth, and [we want to be a place] where everyone feels welcome no matter your background or what you look like or where you came from," Kirby says.

Director of Lipscomb's Business as Mission program Rob Touchstone says that while these businesses are not new — he started The Well Coffeehouse years ago — that social enterprises do tend to excel in Nashville.

"There's something about Nashville. There's this creative — this unique culture that's at the intersection of community and compassion and culture and it seems that's where social enterprise can really thrive — at that intersection," Touchstone says. "You know I also think Nashville also values great products and great service."

Touchstone says corporate studies say that over the past 3-to-5 years people have said they prefer to purchase from companies with a mission — 82 percent said they’d even change brands for the right mission.