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Grand Canyon University’s innovative doctoral degree programs prepare learners for leadership roles in their professions, communities and society. Our dynamic online learning community, integrated dissertation process, wealth of resources and collaborative environment support a successful and meaningful doctoral journey. We believe earning a doctoral degree is a journey and similar to climbing a mountain—challenging, invigorating and completely rewarding when you reach the top. Our goal is to help you conquer your own mountain and succeed on your doctoral journey. Readers of The Doctoral Journey blog, presented by the College of Doctoral Studies, will find resourceful and knowledgeable posts regarding the doctoral process, research best practices and dissertation tips among other topics from GCU’s doctoral faculty.
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Case Study in Social Entrepreneurship: Hot Chicken Takeover

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Is it possible to lend a helping hand to those who are down and out while still turning a profit? Increasingly, social entrepreneurs are answering that question with a resounding yes. Social entrepreneurship is where the for-profit and the not-for-profit intersect. It’s business, but with a charitable angle. If you choose to earn your Doctor of Business Administration with an Emphasis in Management, one of the topics you may study is the phenomenon of social entrepreneurship. Get a closer look at this concept through the lens of one budding social entrepreneur who is building a Hot Chicken Takeover empire in Ohio.

Introducing Joe DeLoss, Social Entrepreneur

Joe DeLoss, founder of Hot Chicken Takeover, had been exposed to the concept of entrepreneurship at an early age. In fourth grade, he took chips and soda from his family’s pantry and resold them to hungry construction workers in his neighborhood in Minnesota. Later, he hosted his own magic shows at birthday parties and chauffeured senior citizens. Joe also embraced the spirit of volunteerism and charitable acts from an early age, having seen the difference a helping hand can make. His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when Joe was young, and the family’s church community pitched in to help.

Exploring the Problem

After earning a business degree, Joe became frustrated with conventional forms of charity. (Serving bowls of soup to the homeless didn’t fix the homelessness problem.) Joe’s first foray into social entrepreneurship produced dismal results. His venture was a staffing agency that tried to connect convicted felons to jobs to help them turn their lives around. The problem was that retailers weren’t convinced they should hire people convicted of crimes like theft.

Rising to the Challenge

Finally, late in 2013, Joe had a wake-up call. He and his wife took a “babymoon” to Nashville, where they fell in love with fried chicken. A few months later, with a newborn baby in tow, the couple opened a pop-up chicken shack. Hot Chicken Takeover became a smashing success, and it wasn’t long until Joe opened the first brick and mortar storefront. Today, Ohio residents flock to multiple Hot Chicken Takeover locations for lip-smacking meals, all served by “second chance” employees with criminal records.

Introducing Hot Chicken Takeover’s Employees

Hot Chicken hires the sort of people most employers wouldn’t give a second glance. They have criminal records, many of them have substance abuse and sobriety issues, and visible tattoos are the norm. But they all have one thing going for them: They want to turn their lives around—all they need is a chance. Hot Chicken’s hiring process is rigorous, with only about a quarter of applicants landing a job. But those who do get a foot in the door usually stay. Hot Chicken has an exceptionally low turnover rate for the restaurant industry.

It also helps employees get back on their feet beyond simply giving them a job. Hot Chicken will invest a dollar for every two dollars that an employee saves toward pursuing an education, buying a car, or renting an apartment—up to $750. The employees have access to deeply discounted bikes to help them get around. And while substance abuse while on the job is a firing offense, employees who relapse can take a leave of absence and be referred for treatment. What Hot Chicken does is good for the community too, since convicted felons who land jobs are far less likely to re-offend. Joe has plans to expand his restaurant nationally, following his socially conscious business model.

Earning your doctoral degree can empower you to pursue your own ambitions of social entrepreneurship. Join the Christian learning community at Grand Canyon University’s College of Doctoral Studies. Get started today with the Request More Information link on this page.