SEEDs graduation day

In this photo, Ed and Phillip, two OTEF facilitators, talk to the SEEDs women about their business idea.

If the response of the participants in a program are an indicator of the program’s success, our first program (at the SEEDs) house was an unbelievable success. At the end of the program, we did come out with a business plan for a business to be started and run by the SEEDs participants as a way of supporting the charity. Is this new? Not really, because nonprofits start thrift shops and second hand stores all the time. What’s new is that this business was not planned by the Board of SEEDs, but by the participants.

What’s new is how the women in the program feel about having created something among themselves. In the three months of delivering the program, I have noticed that only one woman of all the participants has relapsed. The rest have gone from a group of depressed, down-on-their-luck victims to a room full of attractive, vibrant, potential entrepreneurs.

THEY (not me) attribute a lot of their recovery to being involved in the program and being able to create something — a business. They gave us potted plants yesterday, in pots they had designed, with seeds they had planted,with instructions on how to make these plants grow. It was “payback” for us teaching them how to grow their own business.

We’ve got the plan, we’ve got the numbers, and there is no reason why this business can’t start, grow, and contribute to help support and grow SEEDs.

My co-facilitator, Phil Blackerby, who spent ten Sundays down at the SEEDs house and finished gloriously by crunching the numbers for the business plan and giving the women a set of spreadsheets that represented their own work and research into planning the business, was equally touched.

I’d like to thank the women of the SEEDs program for volunteering to be our pilot project, and for throwing themselves into it with such enthusiasm and effort. I feel validated in the foundation’s mission — that the principles of entrepreneurship not only grow businesses, but grow the people in them as well.