“As a business law firm fully immersed in the world of growth-focused entrepreneurs and their business enterprises, our give-back activities are dedicated to initiatives that are categorized as social entrepreneurship or social enterprise. We believe that business principles and profits can be harnessed for societal good and we use our unique skills as business attorneys to add value to these efforts. As an example, we help non-profits that are generating funds through the sale of goods and services.”

-Sheryl Hunter, Esquire, President of Hunter Business Law, The Entrepreneurs Law Firm

What is Social Entrepreneurship?

The utilization of business techniques and private sector approaches to find solutions to social, cultural or environmental problems. There is no common definition, but Hunter Business Law refers to social entrepreneurs as those who run organizations that primarily rely on earned income (meaning income earned directly from paying consumers of goods and services), rather than income from donations or grants, to fulfill their societal mission.

What is a Social Enterprise?

Organizations that apply business strategies, including the sale of goods and services, to meet societal needs, with a social mission making up at least part of their reason for existing. For-profit examples include Warby Parker, which requires that for every pair of eyeglasses sold, another pair is donated, and Tom’s which donates a pair of shoes or sunglasses for everyone that is sold. Non-profit examples include Goodwill Industries.

Our Social Entrepreneurship Initiative

GEMS (Girls Empowered Mentally for Success)

Hunter Business Law is dedicated to meeting the legal needs of entrepreneurs during every phase of their business, from start-up to exit. The firm is proud to serve entrepreneurs who bring innovation and opportunity to our community, including non-profit leaders who seek to utilize principles of business to achieve their social mission.

One shining example is Tampa’s GEMS (Girls Empowered Mentally for Success) Program serving at-risk girls. GEMS Founder Crystal Bailes saw young girls in Tampa’s underserved areas being denied the opportunity to fulfill their potential. Without guidance, education and employment skills, she witnessed young women being swept into drugs and human trafficking. This inspired Crystal to found (GEMS) serving at-risk girls, including incarcerated teens.

The program helps girls recognize their gifts, obtain employment skills and further their education. Since 2003, GEMS has provided social educational services, summer camps, workshops and afterschool activities that have influenced the lives of hundreds of girls. However, there are always more girls needing help than social service budgets can support.

To address this, GEMS created a social entrepreneurship project with a local candle company, Tampa’s 7th Avenue Apothecary that allowed GEMS to expand its services to girls. Through an innovative social entrepreneurship program with 7th Avenue Apothecary, GEMS girls gain skills for employment by learning candle-making and are paid during their internship.

Sheryl Hunter, CEO of Hunter Business Law met Crystal Bailes while working with Tampa’s Social Venture Partners, an organization that offers mentoring, an intensive social enterprise accelerator program, and fast pitch financial prizes. . Sheryl was impressed with the GEMS program and their social enterprise initiative. This led to Sheryl’s agreement to be Crystal’s mentor through an intensive business training program titled “Fast Pitch” underwritten by Social Venture Partners and the Community Foundation.

The program provided instruction in strategic business planning and operations. It culminated in a competition where contestants received three minutes to “pitch” their program before a panel of business and nonprofit judges. The top three prize winners would leave with seed money to support their endeavors ranging from twenty-five to ten-thousand dollars.

Sheryl and Crystal met weekly to review the curriculum and practice Crystal’s pitch. The day finally came when the 13 finalists were ready to compete. Four hundred audience members at the University of Tampa joined ABC Action News in attendance and waited for the contestants to begin. Crystal walked on stage and presented her pitch.

The hours Crystal and Sheryl invested in mentorship were rewarded as GEMS won $10,000 in prize money for Transitions Candles social enterprise initiative as third place winner. Hunter Business Law also applied for and underwrote the cost to register the trademark “Transitions Candles” to help protect the brand. Additionally, Sheryl Hunter has created and is chairing a GEMS-Transitions Candles Advisory Board to focus on expansion of the Transitions Candles social enterprise.

Since then, Crystal shares that exciting advances continue to occur for GEMS.
“After Fast Pitch, Transitions Candles has enhanced its online retail capacity and been accepted as a fundraising arm for the Hillsborough County Schools,” said Bailes. “We are accepting applications for the next group of graduates for our paid internship program and I continue to meet with Sheryl for mentorship and business strategy.”

Hunter Business Law applauds the efforts of local entrepreneurs like 7th Avenue Apothecary who engage with nonprofits to solve social problems in our community. Their work paves the way and inspires more collaborations to make our community stronger.

If you would like information about how your business might engage in a social entrepreneurship program, please contact Sheryl Hunter, CEO of Hunter Business Law at

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