Progress at the SEEDS House

Feb 19, 2007

Yesterday at the SEEDS House, the entire FastTrac facilitation team (Ed, Phil, and Francine) helped the women in the house, which is a safe house for recovering victims of domestic violence, articulate their business concepts. These women are wonderful, but they are struggling in dead-end jobs to support themselves and their children. They graciously agreed to be a pilot program for the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation. Every Sunday afternoon we sit down with them and help them create business plans. Once we have the plans, we will use our networks to get the plans funded. That’s the mission of the Foundation — to provide Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship for economically disadvantaged populations.

The afternoons have been incredible so far, both for the facilitators and for the women. Yesterday I was literally jumping up and down with enthusiasm for these concepts.

Here are the rough concepts the women are working on. We are hiding the special details that make these businesses different and we hope successful, because those details are the intellectual property of SEEDS and the women in the houses, and we don’t want to reveal them before they are properly protected. When the business plans are written, we will take the plans public.

1) a company that would make jeans that actually fit women (a mass customization manufacturing business

2) a company that makes and sells South Beach diet recipes into the state and municipal government buildings downtown for healthy lunches (this is a home-based business)

3) a store that provides drive-through convenience items for seniors and mothers

4) a second-had clothing store

5) a home-based business that sells the arts and photography of the residents

A portion of the proceeds of all these businesses will go to support SEEDS. Thus, these are all social enterprises.

Right now we are investigating how to set up the companies — many of the women want to make the businesses not-for-profits that employ former domestic violence victims and pay them a living wage. We’re going to get legal advice on whether to set up all the businesses under the SEEDS 501 c(3) or make them separate companies.

If any of these businesses work, they would provide jobs, help support SEEDS, and — most important –give hope to these women who have been through unimaginable trauma at the hands of people who were supposed to love them. Help us help them by signing up for the Revolution in Marketing Conference on March 1.

Or if you can’t go, send a check made out to the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation for $75.00 to Francine Hardaway at 2438 E. Whitton Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85016 and I will use it to provide a scholarship for an entrepreneurship student who can’t afford to go.

Next Sunday afternoon, we will discuss the money management aspects of becoming an entrepreneur with the women. If you live in Phoenix and are interested in volunteering your time and talent, especially if you are an accountant who knows how to do books for a non profit, an attorney who helps set up businesses, or an expert in any of the industry segments above, call Francine at 602.910.5622. We also need people who have had experience with the Delancy Street project in San Francisco.

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