Alleviating Local Poverty through Social Business

by Sheila Novak | Apr 02, 2013
| 1 Comment

Summary:

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus defines a Social Business as “a non-loss, non dividend company devoted to solving a social problem and owned by investors who reinvest all profits in expanding and improving the business”. It must directly serve and employ the poor, no individual may take out more money than they invested, is strictly environmentally conscious, its workforce receives market wages and better-than-standard working conditions and unlike many non-profit organizations it is financially self-sustainable. My idea is to create a new social business in Saint Paul that is connected to a fully functioning nonprofit organization. The business will be a bakery and café that employs only homeless individuals and those with criminal backgrounds who are denied access to the workforce. The nonprofit, located in the same building, will provide classes and assistance with resumes, interview help, dress clothes for interviews and a free computer lab with classes on Internet use. It will also house an art program dedicated to spoken word, painting and poetry (and will expand to more areas) as an outlet for creative expression, empowerment and healing.

This holistic combination uses a social enterprise that serves as a job-training site to alleviate poverty. It will hire the chronically unemployed, build life skills through employment and classes, and create community through a unique work environment and art.

There are several crucial elements to the project: 1) The location must be accessible to the workers but also be near markets with higher purchasing power, ie, in or near downtown, along a bus line or the new LRT on University. 2) The organization will form partnerships with businesses that will post job openings and agree to hire anyone who works at the bakery/cafe for 8-12 months with positive reviews. 3) It must foster support with the social justice oriented residents of St Paul through its business ethics and mission.

About You

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About You

First Name

Sheila

Last Name

Novak

City

Northfield

County

Country

United States, MN, Rice County

Website (if you have one)

Names of others who helped contribute to my idea

How did you hear about the Forever Saint Paul Challenge?

From a friend

About Your Organization (if applicable)

Organization Name (if applicable)

Organization Website

Organization Phone

Organization Address

City

Organization Country

United States

Your idea

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Title of your idea

Alleviating Local Poverty through Social Business

Give us the highlights of your idea for making Saint Paul great (2,000 characters maximum or approx. 250 words)

Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus defines a Social Business as “a non-loss, non dividend company devoted to solving a social problem and owned by investors who reinvest all profits in expanding and improving the business”. It must directly serve and employ the poor, no individual may take out more money than they invested, is strictly environmentally conscious, its workforce receives market wages and better-than-standard working conditions and unlike many non-profit organizations it is financially self-sustainable. My idea is to create a new social business in Saint Paul that is connected to a fully functioning nonprofit organization. The business will be a bakery and café that employs only homeless individuals and those with criminal backgrounds who are denied access to the workforce. The nonprofit, located in the same building, will provide classes and assistance with resumes, interview help, dress clothes for interviews and a free computer lab with classes on Internet use. It will also house an art program dedicated to spoken word, painting and poetry (and will expand to more areas) as an outlet for creative expression, empowerment and healing.
This holistic combination uses a social enterprise that serves as a job-training site to alleviate poverty. It will hire the chronically unemployed, build life skills through employment and classes, and create community through a unique work environment and art.
There are several crucial elements to the project: 1) The location must be accessible to the workers but also be near markets with higher purchasing power, ie, in or near downtown, along a bus line or the new LRT on University. 2) The organization will form partnerships with businesses that will post job openings and agree to hire anyone who works at the bakery/cafe for 8-12 months with positive reviews. 3) It must foster support with the social justice oriented residents of St Paul through its business ethics and mission.

Website address (if applicable)

Innovation

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What makes your idea different or unexpected? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

There are wonderful nonprofit organizations addressing issues of poverty in St Paul. Nonetheless, the city is riddled by inequality. No one is using business as a tool to alleviate poverty and few organziations employ those deemed “un-hirable” by society. The result will be instant and powerful: lives will be improved through added purpose, income and community. However, this idea is not untested: it is based on ideas that won the Nobel Peace Prize. It also mirrors a wildly successful project, Homeboy Industries, run by Greg Boyle in East Los Angeles to address extreme gang violence. He argues that nothing stops poverty and violence like a job. Please (please!) visit their website: http://homeboyindustries.org. If I receive the grant, I will connect with Homeboy Industries for guidance.

Impact

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This Entry is about (Issues)

How will your idea make a difference in Saint Paul? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

The project will combine innovative business ethics, philanthropy and sustainable food to alleviate local poverty, unemployment and crime. The art program will foster a strong community and offer an opportunity for empowerment and expression. The employment experience and job search assistance will create valuable skills and a second chance for desperate individuals. The network of partner businesses and organizations will provide the individuals served by the project further employment, pride and purpose. More ideas for increasing the impact include painting an annual mural on the building, hosting bread recipe competitions, free bus passes for employees, community meals for the workers and families, an art residency program and a building welcoming to both employees and customers.

Sustainability

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Why do you think people will recognize or remember your idea after it comes to life? How might it inspire others to do something similar in their community? (4000 characters maximum or approx. 500 words)

As a self-sustaining business, the project will achieve longevity by utilizing the powers of a commercial economy. Similar projects such as Homeboy Industries have been incredibly successful. Our social business will challenge contemporary business assumptions, showing that the groups we will employ are in fact hirable and reliable. No profit will be kept in the hands of the owners and will only be used to expand employment and to create more social enterprises and job training sites. The organization and business will have an experienced and diverse Board of Directors. We would hire an experienced baker and restaurant manager. The grant will be used for purchasing and renovating the space, for initial wages and launching a grassroots campaign for the required support and outreach.

jandayangacho2013 jandayangacho2013 said: Social business needs you own personality and the way you talk. - Paul Kadri about this Competition Entry. - 2585 days ago read more >

Sheila Novak updated this Competition Entry. - 2852 days ago

Sheila Novak updated this Competition Entry. - 2852 days ago

Sheila Novak submitted this idea. - 2852 days ago