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What if local businesses and social enterprises pledge to hire a person in need?

What if every social enterprise pledged to hire one man or woman in need for a year program? We want to create a platform that makes it easy

Photo of Karyn Suwito
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Who does this idea benefit, who are the main players and what's in it for them?

These programs will benefit women and men who have just graduated from job ready programs through other non profit organizations and can't find jobs. Social enterprises should act as a stepping stone and help introduce them to a traditional workforce. They will be able to learn the skills they need to excel their financial and working knowledge. Social enterprises will also be able to asses their individual strengths for jobs in the future. There will be room for expansion in the private sector

How is your idea specifically using the power of communities to improve financial opportunities and resources?

This idea specifically uses the power of communities to improve financial opportunities and resources because job experience is crucial in achieving both. As a community it is a small responsibility that everyone can take to change someones life. Organizations like the Downtown Women's Center and Chrysalis do a great job in providing job training and resume building but not every student that graduates from their programs wants to do the work that they have. Everyone has a different dream job.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

We could survey surrounding small business and social enterprises to see if they would be willing to take on one new employee and for what time frame? is one year too long? how much would they be able to pay them? is a mentorship a few days a week more likely? SOWN is a social enterprise that wants to do this work and not make social enterprises the dichotomy of earning money from one thing, and funneling it to the next. We want to practice what we preach and give women first hand experience.

What skills, input or guidance might you be seeking from the OpenIDEO community to help you build out or refine your idea further?

We want to create a program so that it is easy for every social enterprise to hire on or mentor a man or woman in need. It shouldn't be a burden but a joy to give someone the opportunity to learn the skills and open up new financial opportunities and resources. Personal financial tips that you've grown up learning would be so valuable. We would be seeking expertise from the OpenIDEO community in how to create this platform and how to give these women the best tools to move forward.

This idea emerged from:

  • A student project or collaboration
Image title


Supporting Opportunities for Women in Need (SOWN) founders, Karyn Suwito and Tammy Sanchez, share a common goal to empower women by creating a path toward financial independence.

SOWN’s first product is a multi-purpose baby wrap produced by women who have completed job-ready programs conducted by Los Angeles organizations such as Chrysalis or the Downtown Women’s Center.  Through its unique design, the baby wrap serves three purposes:  a baby wrap, breast-feeding cover, and stroller cover.  Wraps traditionally have a short shelf life, but SOWN’s product is able to extend that life by adding two additional functions.

Market research has revealed a $25 million market for baby products in Los Angeles County alone -- and the market continues to thrive as babies are born every second of every day.  Recent studies have demonstrated the social-emotional benefit of wrapping babies and we have also validated the need for a multi-purpose wrap through a survey and focus groups.

Every year, millions of women try to escape poverty by migrating to find employment. Instead, they end up in squalid living conditions and are often physically or sexually assaulted.  That fate can be avoided if they have access to stable income sources in their own communities:  Studies show that when the rate of female participation in the labor force rises, local economies experience significant reductions in poverty rates.

SOWN recognizes no one can make it without the support of others, so in addition to employing women we will encourage our customers to become advocates of women’s empowerment.  Our target market is the millennial mother:  85% of moms believe it’s important for companies to support a cause and 73% are willing to try a new product because of its affiliation with a cause (Cone, 2013).  SOWN’s baby wraps will be sold online both individually and in baby shower kits that will include party essentials, an informational video and advocacy materials:  The celebrations will serve a dual purpose by giving participants an opportunity to help create change.

SOWN’s founders envision a world with equal opportunity for all women, the ability for them to choose their own futures, and the resources they need to create the lives they want.  Our mission is to provide transitional employment for women with unequal access to educational and employment resources -- and to simultaneously create products significant to the socially conscious consumer.

SOWN strives to create a model so that it could be applied to other social enterprises that are creating a product or service. This would be the sustainable social impact that we want to create locally, and globally. 

*** UPDATES***


Hi Everyone, 

This is just a little bit of background out how we got this idea started. We are both very passionate about gender equality and find this the root of our solutions and problems. We find financial independence and financial knowledge an important factor when trying to achieve gender equality. We find that often times men and women don't work together and don't see the benefit of shared responsibility and financial gain. We need to reintroduce the idea of a strong team and partnership in creating family. Men must be included in the conversation because they are half of the solution. In creating a platform first in the social enterprise space then in the private sector space for true job experience for people in underserved communities and just out of job ready programs, we are giving people real opportunities to learn and observe the benefits of working together. Not to outweigh the importance of personal financial empowerment. We at SOWN believe that no one can achieve anything without their support network. We truly rely on each other to make change. To financially empower those who need it most, well established businesses, social enterprises, and non profit organizations can work together to pledge to mentor and hire people in their communities that need the opportunity most. Below are some links you can click to get to know us a little better. We are new graduates from Pepperdine University. We're walking to get our masters this weekend, so family has been in town making it busy! We are truly so passionate about this cause and appreciate everyones thoughtful feedback and support. This OPEN IDEO challenge has really expanded and pushed our mission and vision. THANK YOU! 

Link to short video on what drives our work:

Link to our pitch for our social enterprise SOWN that is committed to created transitional jobs for people who have come out of job ready programs:

*Disclaimer: it is not the best quality but you guys will get a glimpse of our first pitch ever.


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Photo of Jessica Lee

Hi Karyn and Tammy,

SOWN's mission of empowering women through local solutions and partnerships is a deeply resonating one. A comment (or question rather) that I have is: what sort of monitoring or impact evaluation will SOWN have in place? Or will this sort of tracking be provided through the partnering organization, Chrysalis or DWC? It would be really interesting — and powerful — to be able to map out community-driven impact in a tangible way.

Many congratulations to the two of you on receiving your degrees!

All the best,

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