Deepening Connections Among NBA’s Entrepreneurs

Rev. Darnell Fennell with Dr. Jennifer R. Madden

There is something powerful about bringing creators together. We have seen firsthand the inspiration and learnings that happens when social entrepreneurs are able to connect with the work of others. That’s what lead us to create and launch the Social Entrepreneurship Cohort model in 2021.

Each year, we welcome 10 entrepreneurs to a year-long experience that allows them to connect with others as they work to bring their visions for social enterprises to fruition. This model takes participants from a one-time collective gathering, the SENT Seminar which happens in the fall, to more collective gatherings throughout the year. The Cohort was created to enhance relationships, support, and provide education for social entrepreneurs. Our pivot in 2020 from an in-person SENT Seminar to a virtual event allowed NBA’s Social Entrepreneurship team to move resources into the hands of more social entrepreneurs.

2021 and 2022 SENT Cohort members.

In April, the Social Entrepreneurship program hosted its first in-person event in two years. Leaders from our 2021and 2022 SENT Cohorts gathered in San Jose, California. The group met for a combined ‘huddle’ where they learned about relevant tax forms, marketing strategies, board development, and spent one-on-one time with Dr. Jennifer R. Madden, a reoccurring SENT Seminar presenter and President of Leverage Point Development, a business consulting firm.

We recognize that Cohort members are all in different spaces and development, so we believe leaving room for them to workshop ideas is essential. In addition to the learnings, the in-person fellowship was rich. There were moments when entrepreneurs felt seen and were reminded that they are not alone. It was exciting to see relationships develop across the Cohorts, especially in person, as virtual gatherings can only build so many connections with others.

2022 SENT Cohort member Rev. Anthony Chatman and 2021 SENT Cohort member Rev. Dr. Delesslyn Kennebrew.

Finally, this opportunity allowed the cohorts to see the impactful work of one of our. We spent a day at Recovery Café San Jose where we were able to tour the facility and see their work in action. Recovery Café is a community center for those in the San Jose area healing from addiction, mental health struggles, and homelessness. Executive Director Kathy Cordova was a great host and resource, and we were excited to give Cohort members an opportunity to have in-person exposure with one of our Incubate Partners so they could see that growing their social enterprises is possible!

After nearly two years of no in-person gatherings, it became clear in San Jose the power of being together. Our social entrepreneurs were no longer flat figures on a screen; you saw people taking walks together and sharing meals and their hearts with one another. The in-person time added a deeper level of connection among our cohorts, relationships were strengthened, and synergy was formed.

Interested in joining our next Social Entrepreneurship Cohort? Apply to join us at Applications close October 1, 2022.