Hi Open IDEO - We've looked into some of your questions and found it really helpful answering them.
Perhaps you’d like to put together some user scenarios that will bring the idea and user journey to life? SOWN has partnered with the Promises Foundation (http://promisesfoundation.org/our-foundation) to hire graduates of their job training program. During their first year with SOWN they receive on the job training to build their skills and resumes. One employee is using the knowledge she aquired to develop her own social enterprise to help bring financial literacy programs to low-income areas. As a result of our advocacy kits, we are seeing an influx in visits to our website, especially the advocacy section that provides opportunities for others to get involved. As sales of our product increases, we are able to hire on 4 of our clients full-time with SOWN paying competitive wages and providing full benefits. These 4 are now working in Sales and pattern design, with one managing operations. We have learned that we cannot keep everyone on full-time, so we are still operating as a transitional employer to help build skills and provide on the job training to more women, so they can transition to higher wage, higher skill jobs with another company. 2 have done this successfully so far. They have used sown as a stepping stone to supplement their income and improve their financial situation. We have 4 new hires beginning next month. With projections for next year near the $600,000 dollar mark, we are currently looking at transferring to a bigger space for manufacturing, which will allow us to bring more women into production. Finally, we are seeing our clients lives transform with greater self-sufficiency. They no longer need government assistance and their self-worth of knowing what they can accomplish is much greater as seen through the types of jobs they seek and confidence reported during interviews and performance evaluations. Our next steps will be to research potential new products to add to our line up and continue following up on the lives of the women have moved on from on from SOWN. This will include those who have successfully transitioned into the labor force, those that may have dropped out, and those that are still struggling to see how we can better assist.
Who are the groups we should be thinking about? With a passion for gender equality, our pilot program is focused on low income women. More specifically, we are focusing on bringing jobs to low income women in Los Angeles County. The Los Angeles area has one of the highest costs of living which only exacerbates their situation. What would the experience look like from the employer perspective (and what would their incentives for participating be)? Initially we are targeting non-profit organizations that provide a job training program with a focus on job placement. Incentive would be mission fulfillment for them.
Would the idea apply specifically to social enterprises, or any small business? Non-profits and social enterprises to start until we can standardize our model.
Consider building your online team with OpenIDEO collaborators who can help you think through some of these questions. You might also learn something by looking into the work of REDF, which is an organization in California that invests in social enterprises that create jobs for people who have challenges entering the workforce.
Yes! we've already experienced such a great community on OpenIDEO and are excited to continue to collaborate with likeminded people. REDF and Chrysalis are both organizations that we look up to and definitely will bet contacting for their expertise and looking to collaborate with.
Lastly, what are your next steps for the coming month (or three months)? What do you foresee as the greatest challenges and key goals – and how will you know that these goals have been achieved? Product development is our primary focus for the next 3 months, before we can test out our model. Our greatest challenge is in developing an easy to use, multi-purpose product. Once we have our product we can hire on women and further engage the community. Purchase of our product gives our customer an opportunity to make an impact through their purchase. At the same time, they are becoming more than consumers every time they share the story of the origin of their wrap and share the opportunity being created to help others help themselves. Through our advocacy kit, provided with each purchase, our customers have the opportunity to be advocates and spread awareness of the need for women’s financial empowerment in their own community.
This is such a great and sustainable idea. Tammy and I have also experienced this in the past using students. Through our mandatory global experience we were able to create a lasting partnership between Pepperdine University and the http://www.nicafund.org in Nicaragua, and students will continue being a part of their new women's health initiative called The Lily Project - http://www.thelilyproject.org . Also great tip about AirBNB and Instacart . Thank you so much for your insightful input.
Thanks for your response! We are working on our Experience Map right now. We agree that visualizing our idea is the best way to communicate it well. What does it mean by inserting it into the main body of our post?