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Tips and inspiration for changemakers from the social impact crowdfunding website, StartSomeGood


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Bravery and Lifestyle Branding with Liz Bohannon of Sseko Designs (An Excerpt from Rank & File Magazine)

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“It’s not rocket science – 99 percent of it comes down to courage and grit.”

Being brave can mean a lot of things.

Liz Bohannon was 22 when she left her job at a corporate communications firm. She’d gotten the job just out of college after graduating with a degree in journalism. It was while pursuing her degree that she became passionate about the issues facing women living around the world in extreme poverty and in conflict zones. Unfortunately after graduation, like many, she failed to find her “unicorn dream job” where she “would get paid to travel around the world and cover the issues [she] thought were really important.” She’d had her corporate gig for all of three months when she looked around and decided that her life did not reflect her passions. So she quit and bought a one-way plane ticket to Uganda.

Liz says she “went through a pretty classic journey that a lot of people go through during their first trips in developing economies of [feeling] a little bit overwhelmed, very inspired, but also seeing kind of the dark side of what’s not working and why it’s not working.”

After a few months, she ended up volunteering at a nonprofit school focused on finding “the best and the brightest” teenagers in Uganda and preparing them not only for college but also to become future leaders in their communities. Liz was drawn to the idea of investing deeply in a few in order to impact many. It was here that she found a home and a community that would change her life. Liz ended up becoming a part of this conversation that the organization was having at the time specifically about the girls in their program.

In Uganda, there is a nine-month gap between high school and college during which young adults return home and work to save up enough money to pay for university. Girls were finishing the program and testing in the top five percent of college applicants in the country, but then couldn’t surmount societal pressures to get through their gap year. It was a very real problem, and the organization didn’t have the money or the resources to help these girls. So Liz started brainstorming. She admits that her first thought was “pretty classic.” A 22-year-old, “white American who goes to a poor country for the first time and is just like…‘these poor African women don’t have enough money to go to school.’ The solution is ‘let’s give them money.’”  

She thought about starting a nonprofit, but the further she went down that path, the clearer it became that she wanted to do something not only more sustainable, but also something mutually beneficial and more empowering. She decided to step out of the “giver/receiver relationship pattern” that has been the traditional dynamic between white Westerners and Africans. First, she tried and failed to start a chicken farm, and “naturally, chickens evolved into women’s footwear.”

Remembering a quirky sandal she made for herself in college by tying ribbons to flip flops, Liz hit the local market in hopes of recreating that sandal with the resources she had available in Uganda. Liz told Rank & File that she remembers wandering a local market for three days trying to find a tool that could punch a hole in leather, which culminated with a good cry in the rain.

But Liz persevered, and even though she had “zero background in business of any kind,” she gathered the necessary tools and materials to start what today is Sseko Designs.

Sseko, the Luganda word for laughter, began with just three girls and a rudimentary plan: they make sandals for nine months, Liz returns to the U.S. to sell them out of the back of her car, and the girls get to go to college.  

From these humble beginnings, Sseko has grown far beyond the trunk of Liz’s car into an extremely successful social enterprise. In the years since its inception, Sseko has sent every single graduate of its program to university, a total of 71 and counting, and employ 50 women in Uganda.

Liz’s story is filled with bravery, a crucial trait at the core of what it means to be a Sseko woman. Rank & File’s conversation with Liz focused on her advice for building a lifestyle brand and how to continue evolving and expanding your impact once you’re successful.

 

Building a Lifestyle Brand

Sseko Designs began with a single product, the sandal, but they quickly grew into a lifestyle brand. Liz knew early on that if Sseko Designs was going to succeed it was going to be because they were “running a great business that makes great products.”  

“We are unapologetically a business,” Liz shares. “We want to be a best-in-class design, production and manufacturing house in East Africa, but we want to do that in a way that gives dignity and honor and provides room for transformative relationships for every person that’s a part of that.”

For Liz, building a successful social enterprise involves not just a strong mission and vision, but also the strategy behind building a solid brand. Liz finds that “a lot of social enterprises don’t really think a lot about brand because they have a mission.” She argues that in addition to having a clear mission, you have to “build a pretty compelling brand.” You have to “recognize that a mission is not a brand, it will only take you so far.” Liz has several tips for how to build a successful lifestyle brand:  

 

Ask a Lot of Questions

Liz’s work “consisted of a lot of pounding pavement, years and years of traveling around the country.” But she wasn’t just trying to sell her product, she was also asking questions. Liz found that asking questions in person is the most effective way of getting real answers. It is much simpler than you think. She took a clipboard into a busy city center and just started asking strangers questions like: What do you like about these sandals? How much would you pay for them?

Liz says, “It’s not rocket science; it’s having the courage to have a stranger look at you and say, ‘No, I wouldn’t buy that.’ It’s putting yourself in pretty socially awkward, weird positions.” It’s walking up to a stranger who might blow you off.  You have to be willing to ask questions you aren’t sure you’ll like the answers to. “99 percent of it comes down to courage and grit.”

 

Get Past Your Biases

Part of defining your brand is self-exploration and research. Liz encourages social entrepreneurs to really dig deep into their own biases and individual outlook on the world to discover why they truly think their product is beautiful. “How has that been defined and what are your influences?” Liz suggests going through this practice and incorporating it into “how you’re thinking about your charter customer and how you’re thinking about growing your community.”

 

Craft a Great Product

After examining your personal biases, the next step is to think beyond your social mission for a moment. Liz says, “part of building a really strong brand is having really phenomenal, interesting, unique, innovative products that [you] feel pretty confident standing in a room and saying, ‘I have something to offer that is really special and unique.’” Would you feel confident telling a roomful of strangers that they should buy your product, not just because it supports a great cause, but because it is simply an amazing product? If not, you might have to go back to the drawing board.

 

Be Specific

Liz finds that many people, especially when they’re just starting out, “are so afraid to exclude.” When you’re building a brand and defining your consumer base, “if you try to speak to everyone and you try to be so broad and so inclusive, no one will hate you, but you won’t move anyone,” Liz says. “No one will look at what you’re trying to do and have that feeling of like, ‘Oh that’s speaking to me. Those are my people, that’s the language I use, that is igniting something in me that maybe hasn’t been ignited before.’”

Liz has focused Sseko Designs on being “unapologetic about who the Sseko woman is.” They put the lifestyle out there, and if women don’t see themselves in their brand, then that’s okay. It’s important to acknowledge that not everyone will be your customer.  

 

Define Your Personality

After you have done all the work and gotten the data necessary for defining your customer, the next step is to make sure your brand personality expresses it. When they were building their brand, Liz found that creating the Sseko manifesto, the 12 principles of what it means to be a Sseko woman, was a crucial step. She thinks that “putting it on paper and kind of saying ‘here are 12 sentiments that define who [we] are in a way that feels a little more fun than just your classic demographic’” was important for defining their lifestyle brand.

 

The full version of this story, including Liz’s tips for how to evolve and expand your social impact is available in Rank & File Magazine.

Rank & File is a digital publication for purpose-driven entrepreneurs who believe people are worth serving and business can create change.

Get Rank & File for Free.

Photos in this article courtesy of ©Sseko Designs

The enclosed article is a copyright of Rank & File, Inc. Any dissemination, copying, altering or storage of this message or its attachments is strictly prohibited outside of single use for StartSomeGood monthly newsletter and blog. All mentions of Rank & File in the title, bio and throughout the article must appear with dissemination. The article must not be revised, shortened or altered in any way without approval from Rank & File, Inc.


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This Week in Social Entrepreneurship: 2017 is the Year

new-year-goals

Happy New Year from StartSomeGood!

Happy new year, everyone! We trust you all had wonderful celebrations filled with food, fireworks, and tons of laughter.

To kick off this year, we collected a couple of links relevant in our social entrepreneurship world that could be of interest to you. Scroll down and enjoy!

 

Opportunities and Events

2017: A Year for Social Entrepreneurs

StartSomeGood co-founder Tom Dawkins has a new year’s message especially for you. Read and find out what opportunities you have with us here at StartSomeGood.

Social Entrepreneurship Pitchfest at Pausefest 2017

Do you have a social enterprise idea that you would like to see come true? Get the chance to pitch it at Social Entrepreneurship Pitchfest at Pausefest 2017 in Melbourne, Australia! There will be a pool of experts in the realm of social enterprise, start-up and technology to share ideas and rub elbows with. Applications are open until 5pm, Monday 16 January 2017.

Social Business Consultant Fellow with Alterna Center for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship 

Grab this internship opportunity at Quetzaltenango, Guatemala that offers a unique chance for a hands-on experience at supporting local entrepreneurs who have a shortage in access to high-quality business services. You can apply until 7 February 2017.

 

News, Reports, Insights

The Gates effect: Social Entrepreneurship Reframes Charity

Read about how social entrepreneurship is reframing charity in South Africa and what they call “The Gates effect”.

Putting Community First in Social Innovation Education

Here is a good read on how educators can teach students to become collaborative community partners. This article is part of a series from Stanford Social Innovation Review regarding the future of social impact education.

Entrepreneur Designs New Electric Wheelchair and Car for Quadriplegics

Talk about innovation for a cause! Read all about how an entrepreneur designed this wonderful tool for quadriplegics.

 

Inspiration

Meet The Social Entrepreneurs Giving Back Around the Globe

In this life of social entrepreneurship, it is always a great encouragement to know that you are not alone. Read this article to meet other social entrepreneurs making an impact in other parts of the world.

7 Social Entrepreneurs on How They Finally Got Their Big Break

Some entrepreneurs talk about their success stories. Read and be inspired. Whether you have gotten your big break or not, know that it is never too late for a breakthrough.

Day in the life: Social entrepreneur and philanthropist connects volunteers globally

Stuart Rees Jones, social entrepreneur and philanthropist, is the founder and chief executive of Camps International, which is known as a for-profit social enterprise providing experiential learning experiences for students worldwide. Read this article on how he goes about his day. Take mental notes, too. You could learn a thing or two.

 

Email us at hello@startsomegood.com for suggestions of links to include in this series. Include “TWISE” in the subject line.

 


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2017: A Year for Social Entrepreneurs

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Some of you may be entering the year feeling a bit like these guys look.

Despite all the tumult of 2016 I enter 2017 strangely optimistic.

Despite my fears and disappointments, things also have a stark and refreshing clarity to them.

Now is a time for social entrepreneurs.

It’s clear that we can’t rely on our political leaders and processes to create a more equitable and sustainable future. In country after country, politics has snarled to a stop as the ability to compromise seems to evaporate, or been captured entirely by those with little regard for the role of government. Regardless of how you vote and what you believe, now is not the time to sit back and wait for others to make things right.

Instead, you are going to have to help create the future you want to see, if we’re to have any chance of seeing it at all.

The future doesn’t just happen, and by the time it becomes the present everything that matters has already happened. The future is the product of the decisions and actions we take individually and collectively that influence the present we live into. Is it more or less equal, connected, sustainable, just? Do current trends, positive and negative, continue, pause, decline? Which stories do we hear, which voices to we respect, who participates and who is missing?

You have only two choices.

You can either help create the future or you can live in the past, living in the wake of decisions made by others.

If you care about the future, if you have an idea for how to make things better, we need you now. Traditional sources of influence for the common good are weakening, but new forms of collective power are emerging, and the onus is on us to use and master the tools that give rise to these.

Crowdfunding is one of these tools.

At StartSomeGood our mission is to help non-profits, social entrepreneurs and community groups to create the future we need, and in particular to support more innovative projects and emerging social impact organizations and forms – such as social enterprises – commonly ignored by traditional funders.

We are deeply fortunate to work with inspiring changemakers every day, so it’s impossible for us to feel anything other than hopeful. As we go into this new year we re-dedicate ourselves to working in the service of innovation and innovators, to keep increasingly our already industry-leading project success rate, to growing our reaching and community and to create more co-funding opportunities and link you to more investment, so we can move faster and improve more lives.

And so I feel optimistic.

With challenge comes opportunity and today we have a unique opportunity to make a difference. Greater interconnectedness and access to new tools and technologies has made so much possible, and it’s clear more and more emerging leaders are dedicating themselves to creating a positive social impact all the time.

If we can help you launch your social impact project this year, please get in touch! We’d love to help you do crowdfunding right.

 

Tom

Co-founder, StartSomeGood

 

PS. I want to help some of you start 2017 with a bang! I will personally donate $50 to every campaign that launches on StartSomeGood by January 13, and $25 to any that launch by January 31, when you used the Referral Code HAPPYNEWYEAR (in the extra’s tab when you’re creating your campaign). I’ll also share on twitter and do my best to see you succeed.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s do this.

 


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This week in Social Entrepreneurship: News and Events for you!

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Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and prosperous New Year!

By now, we trust your holiday celebrations are in full swing. We hope you are all enjoying! Before you get into it again, we listed down some links we hope you find useful.

Opportunities and Events

Intro to Social Enterprise – Wellington (7 February 2017) 

What is a social enterprise? If you want to gain a better understanding, this is just the workshop for you. It will cover topics such as what you need, what to expect, and how to start. Tickets range from $10 – $20.

Social Enterprise for Not-for-Profits – Christchurch (15 March 2017) 

Akina Foundation brings you Social Enterprise for Not-for-Profits. Get your tickets from $10-$20 and learn all about growing income and creating new enterprises in this sphere at a three-hour interactive workshop.

Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise 2017 (May 10-12, 2017)

Mark your calendars for the sixth annual 3-day Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise 2017 from May 10 to 12. It will be held in Winnipeg and is brought to you by The Social Enterprise Council of Canada together with CCEDNET Manitoba. It will be a national learning experience that will allow you to dive in with local social enterprises in the area. Stay tuned on their site for registration details and early bird ticket availability.

Fledge9 (April – June 2017)

Fledge9 returns to Seattle next April-June. 10 weeks of intense guidance and education, a flood of mentors, introductions to potential partners and investors, plus at least $20,000 in cash.

All mission-driven for-profit startup from raw idea through $1 million in revenues are welcome to apply, from anywhere around the world.

If not yourself, then tell a friend. Word of mouth is how most fledglings find Fledge, and thus we need your help to spread the word.

Details at: apply.fledge.co. Applications due by January 7th, 2017.

 

News, Reports, Insights

Social Entrepreneurs Can Transform Southeast Asia

Read about Forbes Magazine’s take on how social entrepreneurs can transform and make waves in developing economies.

This is What Social Responsibility Entrepreneurship Looks Like 

Huffington Post talks about a recent Hack-a-thon seminar in Boston and how the bright participants came up with tech-oriented solutions to social challenges.

Big firms can enhance social mobility in 2017 by committing to buy from social enterprises 

This article looks into “buying social” and how it can help improve Britain’s equality and social inclusion.

 

Inspiration

5 Social Entrepreneurship Essentials

Whether it is hope, audacity, or dealing with disappointment, this article walks you through dealing with the ups and downs and emotions you need to face as a social entrepreneur.

Celebrating the Unbreakable Tenacity of Women Entrepreneurs 

Read about how women have been making waves in the world of entrepreneurship.

 

For links and suggestions, send us a message at hello@startsomegood.com with “TWISE” in the subject line. We greatly value your input!

 


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The Social Enterprise Design Challenge is back!

EFF Social Enterprise Design Challenge cover image

TL;DR:

What is this for: new social enterprise concepts from DGR (tax deductible) organisations in Australia

Applications due: January 31, 2017

Crowdfunding: March

Amount: Up to a $15,000 match.

Express interest: here.

 

More:

The Social Enterprise Design Challenge is a unique matched funding opportunity provided by the English Famly Foundation and hosted by StartSomeGood which supports non-profit social enterprises in Australia to test and design new concepts for creating sustainable and transformational social change.

We are looking for ambitious leaders who are finding new and innovative solutions to tackle the most pressing issues within our communities, and who need a little help to achieve this. By asking the community to invest alongside us we ensure that these solutions have the support and attention they need to have the best chance at succeeding.

Last year four non-profit social enterprises tested their ideas through crowdfunding with the help of the English Family Foundation and StartSomeGood. To our delight all four exceeded their fundaising goals. Together they raised over $130,000 from over 650 individual supporters. You can find out more about their campaigns and our criteria here.

 


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This week in Social Entrepreneurship: Upcoming Summits, Available Podcasts, and More!

business-seminars

Want to join summits for social entrepreneurship? We listed down some for you.

With just a little over two weeks remaining in 2016, we are back with events, reports, and articles in the world of social entrepreneurship to keep on your radar starting this week.

 

Opportunities and Events

The Moroccan Social Entrepreneurship Summit – Dec 17, Morocco 

Register for free at the Moroccan Social Entrepreneurship Summit, brought to you by the Moroccan CISE and JCI Rabat. It will be a day full of speakers, presentations, and awards to review and recognise achievements in the social innovation sphere within the community. Be there on December 17, 8:30 AM – 8:00 PM (WET, UTC+00:00).

Starting a Social Enterprise – Jan 25 2017, Christchurch NZ  

If you find yourself in Christchurch, New Zealand on January 25 and would want to learn more about starting a social enterprise, Akina Foundation has just the workshop for you. You will learn about starting with a purpose, the social enterprise business model, testing ideas with customers, and the next steps to consider as you launch. Tickets range from $10 – $20.

Social Enterprise World Forum 2017 – Sept 27-29, 2017, Christchurch NZ

This coming year, the Social Enterprise World Forum, where an international community of policy makers, social entrepreneurs, community leaders, investors, academics, and more come together, will be hosted in Christchurch, New Zealand. Join the 3-day forum from September 27-29, 2017. Book your tickets now and receive the early bird discount until April 17.

 

News, Reports, and Insights

Social Entrepreneurship by Huffington Post 

Huffington Post has a social entrepreneurship section, which they provide in partnership with Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. In this section, you will find quick links to blog posts, news items, and other interesting data. It serves as a quick dashboard to all things social entrepreneurship.

Modular sidewalk paving system harvest solar & kinetic energy, and is made from plastic 

PLATIO, a Hungarian startup, has found a way to convert energy from footsteps into clean electricity. They are harvesting solar energy from their roads and sidewalks. It is unconventional and innovative – the paving platform is even made of recycled plastic!

Racial Justice at Work: Beyond Black Lives Matter 

As part of insights in Corporate Social Responsibility, this article talks about race, social inequality, implicit bias, and how to talk about and address these issues in the workplace. Read for practical tips on what to do within your CSR management teams.

 

Inspiration

Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs: Podcasts 

Visit and subscribe to Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs to access a compilation of podcasts from various entrepreneurs and thought leaders about their experiences, knowledge, and ideas relevant to the industry. Currently, they are on Episode 66 and will post new updates weekly.

7 tips for succeeding as a social entrepreneur 

This article talks about finding your cause, “soul-mates”, storytelling, launching products and services, leveraging passion, and so much more. Be sure to check it out!

The 7 Human Rights We Can Do Without 

As we celebrated Human Rights Day last December 10, Roger Hamilton, New York Times best-selling author and futurist & social entrepreneur, wrote about 7 human rights we can (and maybe should) live without.

 

If you have anything you would like to add to our next entries in this column, hit us up at hello@startsomegood.com. Include “TWISE” in the subject line. We would love to hear from you!


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This week in Social Entrepreneurship: Events, Insights, and More!

Swiping like it ain't no thing.

We have quick links for you!

We are in exciting times as this year comes to a close. While you may be busy planning your year-end activities, we wanted to keep you updated with what’s been happening and what’s to come in the world of social entrepreneurship.

We listed down a few events, some news reports, resources, and articles you might want to check out!

Opportunities and Events

Be an IMPACT Fellow!

IMPACT specialises in world-changing social enterprise education and invests in young minds by providing  opportunities and experiences that would allow them to hone their ambitions into social impact. If this is something you would want to be a part of, fellowship applications are open until 16 December, 11:59PM.

Social Enterprise Design Challenge 2017

StartSomeGood, together with The English Family Foundation, is looking for more social enterprises to support. This matched funding program might just be what you need to kickstart the launch of your social enterprise. Apply until 31 January 2017!

Global Social Entrepreneurship Summit –  February 23-25, 2017, Mumbai

Join other students in using the design thinking process to solve a need in their local community. This summit will bring together successful change-makers whom you can learn from. Registration deadline is January 15, 2017.

News, Reports, Insights

Social Entrepreneurship in the times of refugee crisis 

Do you ever wonder what social entrepreneurship actually does in this time of refugee crisis? Read this insightful article to find out.

E-Books for Social Entrepreneurs

Here are 4 e-books you might find interesting. The topics are on: (1) working in collaboration with local and indigenous communities, (2) the top not-to-do list for public consultation strategy design, (3) influence of social media in changing public consultation landscape, and (4) transform your public consultation strategies & drive project success.

How impact investing can reach the mainstream

McKinsey&Company talks about impact investing and how today’s tools and standards help ensure that social entrepreneurship is a more influential practice.

Inspiration

How to Balance the Demands of “Go Slow” with “Go Fast”

Read this to see what See Change Magazine has to say about navigating the “patient urgency” tension.

10 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Help Build a Nation that Wants Better for Everyone 

A relevant question: How do entrepreneurs as individuals ensure that they help maintain the peace to build a better nation in a chaotic environment?

7 Companies Empower You to Give Gifts That Give Back

With the holidays coming up, this list of companies that not only allow you to buy cool presents, but also let you give back to those in need may just be your helper as you go gift-shopping.

 

Let us know if you have events, opportunities, resources, news, insights, and other articles you would like to share. Email us at hello@startsomegood.com with “TWISE” in the subject line.