2022 Social Entrepreneurship Conference

Social Entrepreneurship in Action: Advancing Food and Environmental Justice through Social Innovation and Enterprise

The Wayne State University School of Social Work is excited to bring back our in-person 4th Annual Social Entrepreneurship Conference! Given rising food insecurity and the inequities in the food space that the COVID crisis has highlighted, this year's conference will center on the intersection of food production, distribution, and retail operations and social innovation and enterprise. Participants will hear from social entrepreneurs, community-based food producers, program developers, and thought-leaders who are addressing food and environmental challenges through social innovation and enterprise. The keynote lecture "Building Food Sovereignty Through Cultural Collectivity and Community Ownership" will be led by Shakara Tyler, PhD, a returning-generation farmer, educator and organizer. Breakout sessions include general business development topics with industry professionals who are knowledgeable about how to start, grow, and scale social ventures. Whether you are a would-be social entrepreneur, a social justice advocate, or just curious and want to learn more about social innovation in the community, make plans to join us for a day full of inspiring presentations and networking opportunities. 

This Conference serves as the second event in the WSU School of Social Work Environmental Justice Series.


DATE & TIME: Friday, December 2, 2022 from 9 am - 4 pm EST

LOCATION: Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business (2771 Woodward Avenue Detroit, MI 48201)

PARKING: The closest secured parking is the Temple West Garage owned and operated by Olympia Development of Michigan. The garage is located at 123 Temple St., east of Cass Avenue. The daily credit card rate is $8*. WSU faculty, staff and students can also pay via OneCard at a fixed rate of $9. *Please note that Olympia garages utilize dynamic pricing. Cash/credit rates on event days typically go into effect at 3 p.m. and can go as high as $45.

AUDIENCE: Students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members who are interested in social innovation and enterprise, corporate and business leaders, social workers and other helping professionals, community advocates and activists, nonprofit personnel, funders and impact investors. This conference is for anyone interested in addressing food justice through a social enterprise and social innovation lens, as well as budding and current social entrepreneurs who are interested in gaining practical knowledge on how to start or scale a social change venture. 

COST: FREE for students, $45 for non-students, $75 for licensed social workers seeking 4.5 CEUs; Costs include continental breakfast and a special catered "shoebox" lunch from the proprietors of the "Taste of the Diaspora - Detroit."

CONTINUING EDUCATION: 4.5 Social Work CECH's are available for a cost of $75 (includes attendance fee). This event has been approved by the MI Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative under CE Approval #: MICEC-0058. Pre-registration for CE's is requested via the registration form. All attendees seeking CE's must sign-in at the event and stay for the full duration. Attendees will then receive an email after the event with a short quiz and details on when they will receive their digital CE certificate. For details visit the Social Work Office of Continuing Education Events page. For questions email ce_ssw@wayne.edu or call 313-577-9348.

WARRIOR SAFE IS WARRIOR STRONG: All current campus health regulations will be followed, including the use of the Daily Screener (GuestFaculty/Staff/Students). So please be sure to complete the screener in advance and have your phone available to display your green approval for entrance into the building. Events held at the Mike Ilitch School of Business are mask optional.


Register now

The deadline to register for the Conference is November 27, 2022.

Learning objectives


  • Develop an understanding of the intersection between social entrepreneurship and food justice 
  • Understand best practices of social enterprises and social innovation 
  • Discover impactful new ways to address food and environmental insecurity, access and equity through social enterprise and social innovation 
  • Learn from venture, nonprofit and industry leaders who are positively impacting individuals and communities while also growing sustainable social ventures


Attendees can select from morning and afternoon workshops that highlight social innovation in the food space OR more general business development workshops including: 

  • Legal entity formation 
  • Business planning 
  • Marketing/social media 
  • Funding 
  • Resource development 
  • Measuring social impact


Building Food Sovereignty Through Cultural Collectivity and Community Ownership

We are living in times of increasing racial, gendered and class terrorism, global climate emergency and crisis, resurgence of imperialism and military aggression, rapidly disappearing biodiversity, wage thefts, eroding of human rights, unethical wealth concentration, and growing global hunger. In these times, food sovereignty movements feed the stomach and soul through transforming our relationship to food which is the foundation to transforming our economy. Food and land traditions provide valuable tools for building community-centered economies grounded in ancestral wisdoms and creative collaborations. Food sovereignty movements cultivate collective economic power through building self-determining economies of abundance, agency and autonomy. Our collective survival and well-being are contingent upon building a more equitable food system. We can create a solidarity economy, in contrast to the extractive economy, that generates vast societal injustices. We can explore what it means to putting solidarity economy values into practice through mutual aid, democratic planning, workplace democracy, sustainability, and equity and reparations. We can uproot food apartheid beyond it's racially capitalist reigns and seed food justice and food sovereignty as practices of collective, cooperative and cultural power. Come here the stories of how land stewards, farmers, entrepreneurs, organizers and educators are building liberated futures at the intersections of food sovereignty, cultural collectivity and community ownership.

Shakara Tyler


Shakara Tyler is a returning-generation farmer, educator and organizer who engages in Black agrarianism, agroecology, food sovereignty and environmental justice as commitments of abolition and decolonization. She obtained her PhD at Michigan State University in Community Sustainability (CSUS) and works with Black farming communities in Michigan and the Mid-Atlantic. She has worked with the MSU Center for Regional Food Systems as the Underserved Farmer Development Specialist where she provided technical assistance to underserved farming groups such as BIPOC farmers, women farmers and beginning farmers. She explores participatory and decolonial research methodologies and community-centered pedagogies in the food justice, food sovereignty and environmental justice movements. She also serves as Board President at the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN), board member of the Detroit People's Food Co-op (DPFC) and co-founder of the Detroit Black Farmer Land Fund (DBFLF) and a member of the Black Dirt Farm Collective (BDFC).