Welcome to our next method profile! Our previous entry focused on using Data-Driven Authority in social enterprise. In operating any venture, everything flows from your approach, and identifying a proper method helps you effectively fulfill your team’s initiative.
Together, we’ll be profiling interesting social enterprises to discuss an anchor method in their strive for social good. The term “anchor method” is to express the intentional and grounded nature of the approaches propelling a social enterprise forward.
This post is an outside observation of a company for inspiration in social enterprise initiative improvements.
In today’s post, we’ll look into the comfortably fashionable Empowerment Plan leveraging Long-haul Projection. The initiative encourages financial independence while giving the homeless access to a way of keeping warm.
Knowing the Company: Empowerment Plan
Veronika Scott is the founder of Empowerment Plan, which is an initiative that focuses on bringing people out of homelessness and poverty. She dedicated herself to designing a product she felt would fill a value gap in the experience of homelessness: a coat that can transform into a sleeping bag or an over-the-shoulder bag. Veronica empathizes with homelessness from memories of poverty in her childhood, and with awareness, she purposely chose to design alongside people who were currently experiencing homelessness. While working on the project, a homeless woman sparked a realization in Veronika. Empowerment Plan describes the realization on their about page:
“It wasn’t until a homeless woman approached Veronika that she realized the true potential of her project. This woman did not want a coat; she wanted a job.”
Recognizing a blind spot through conversation is a familiar scenario. In a previous method profile, Julie Colombino-Billingham from Deux Mains was inspired to walk a different path after speaking with an active stakeholder in the social issue she wanted to impact.
Practicing avid listening, Veronika built a system that provides “full time employment with a wide range of supportive services”. In general, the core program includes an intensive 2-year employment model geared towards job readiness training and support services that promote self-sufficiency. According to the company’s program page, the paid hours for this full-time employment are divided by percentage. Around 60% of the 40-hour work week is dedicated to coat production while 40% is reserved for programming and supportive services.
Empowerment Plan has absolute confidence in their method’s results:
“It is because of this model and the strength of those we employ, that every single person has moved out of the shelter within the first 4-6 weeks of working with us and no one has returned to homelessness once we’ve hired them.”
Treating the Operation of Social Enterprise as a Marathon
We’re using the term “long-haul” for its emotional resonance. A phrase using “long-haul” automatically indicates that a journey and continuous effort is included in the story. Empowerment Plan carries a business model that emphasizes the consistent work needing to be done over an ample period of time. More so, their model gains strength from the initiative being attentive to the journey.
Developing resources for individuals to remain self-sufficient breaks the easily drawn loop of poverty. An approach where resources are given without a plan of sustaining the impact leads to an initiative repeatedly pouring resources into an indefinite loop. One indefinite loops distracts from the ability to extend your reach and impact.
Imagine if Empowerment Plan only provided one coat with one seminar on job interview skills. No other help is given in this scenario, and people cannot stay out of poverty for some reason. Limiting the investment in the journey could result in helping the same loop of people who always fall back into poverty. Let’s say the range of this loop is five people. Being stuck helping the same five people is not the equivalent impact of growing to help a community in need.
Know Your Marathon like a Triathlon
As a social enterprise example, Empowerment Plan made the journey easier by building the right components. Aspects such as the 60-40 split for paid hours and the variety of support services are very accommodating for the purpose of their impact.
People sign-up for a triathlon with an idea of the different obstacles they will face, and prepare accordingly. Preparing could be training for the swimming portion, or charging wireless headphones before the start time. When you know you are in for a journey, you do what you can to assist yourself as you challenge that journey.
Similarly, this initiative values the growth, wins, and lessons that come with the journey of bringing sustained impact.
An anchor-based on Long-haul Projection increases the probability of impact being sustained. One experiment you can try is pinpointing one form of sustained impact you would like to aim towards, and then, imagine the journey towards that aim as a triathlon. What are the obstacles? What are the ways you can prepare for the journey? What can you do to make sure the journey is less burdensome?
Empowerment Plan’s high-endurance Long-haul Projection completes this profile.
People Helping People Podcast is seeking methods clearly supporting an effective impact. Observations and discussions on happenings in the social enterprise community is a significant part of our contribution to social good. Continue to check-in for more conversation-starting content.