We asked members of the SOCAP community who were named on Forbes’ 2017 list of 30 Under 30 social entrepreneurs to answer this question:
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice at the beginning of your career as a social entrepreneur, what would it be?
Here are their answers:
Daquan Oliver Founder, WeThrive
“That I have what it takes. Hesitate less. Fear less. Take more risks.”
Founded in 2014, WeThrive pairs middle-school students living in low-income communities with college students for a year long after-school entrepreneurship program. WeThrive was a SOCAP entrepreneur scholarship recipient in 2015.
Corinne Clinch, Rorus INC
Please forget the way success is portrayed in our culture and media; you’re almost never facing a dragon and coming home. Instead, success should be becoming the version of yourself that’s ready and capable for the long haul. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Even more accurately, carrying your cause is a marathon without mile markers or a finish line.
Don’t be a martyr for your cause. Cherish your health and sanity, because they enable you to keep focused and make more than just a single drop in the ocean. Don’t focus just on success; focus on thriving as you go. Caring for humanity is more like caring for a young child or a sick family member than it is like going on a volunteer trip. You’ll need to be the healthiest, most resilient version of yourself to put up the best fight. And you’ll need to keep being that person all the way through.
TLDR: It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Even more accurately, carrying your cause is a marathon without mile markers or a finish line.
Rorus Inc. engineers affordable water filtration devices that gives people access to safe, clean drinking water. Rorus, Inc was a SOCAP Entrepreneur scholarship recipient in 2016.
Ryan Ross, Program Director, Halcyon Incubator
“As Halcyon Incubator Program Director, I see a great number of early stage ventures and have watched many mature to established companies. My advice for those starting out is to be clear about your vision and not to forget to tell your story. As a social entrepreneur, the ‘why’ matters. It’s tempting to bend your priorities to meet the needs or realities of funders, but for social entrepreneurs it’s vital that the impact remains at the heart of the venture. Clearly and consistently articulating your vision for your company and sharing the narrative that led to you founding your enterprise sets you apart from other entrepreneurs. It makes social entrepreneurship unique and compelling. Embrace it.”
Halcyon Incubator focuses on both social impact and profit. They help social entrepreneurs turn ideas into scalable and sustainable ventures. Ryan appeared at SOCAP15 on the Mapping the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem panel with Penelope Douglas, Mark Beam, and Angie Kim.
Sam Pressler Founder, Armed Services Arts Partnership (ASAP)
“I think the biggest piece of advice that I would give to myself or any social entrepreneur starting off is don’t forget about self-care. Your well-being can’t get lost in the shuffle, especially in the early days when most everything falls on you. In that situation, it’s paradoxical because you want to put in more and more work, but sometimes by putting in too much work and forgetting about yourself and losing yourself in the organization, you could put the entire organization at risk.”
Armed Services Arts Partnership, teaches free classes in writing, stand-up comedy, music and improv to vets, active duty service members and their families. Entrepreneur scholarship recipient in 2016.
Afzal Habib and Sabrina Natasha Habib of Kidogo
Trust yourself. Often times you have “gut feelings” about things (e.g., Is this the right funding for us right now? Is this the right person for the job?) but try to do what you think is expected of you. Hindsight is 20/20 and more often than not your intuition was right, but you just didn’t know why yet. Trust yourself and make the decisions that you think will take you where you need to go (not where everyone else is going!)
Kidogo works to improve access to high-quality, affordable, early childhood care and education in East Africa. Kidogo was awarded a SOCAP Entrepreneur Scholarship in 2016. Afzal Habib pitched the enterprise as part of our the SOCAP16 Entrepreneur Pitch Session.
Emily Cunningham and Kwami Williams of MoringaConnect
Collaboration is key. We started out with a tiny marketing budget and started to grow our brand through co-branding and co-marketing partnerships with brands we admired. Our consciously crafted natural skin and hair care products appealed to their customer base. Starting a mailing list early on and letting those early customers become a part of our brand and story has been so important to our growth.
MoringaConnect combats deforestation and malnutrition in Ghana by connecting small farmers with the global market. They worked with the community to develop a supply chain to take Moringa seeds and turn them into antioxidant-rich oils for hair and skincare. MoringaConnect was a SOCAP Entrepreneur scholarship recipient in 2015.
Apply Now for Your Chance to Be Selected for a SOCAP Scholarship
We are now taking applications for the 2017 SOCAP Entrepreneur Scholarship opportunity. Apply now for your chance to meet and make connections with some of the leading social entrepreneurs in the world. The deadline is June 30, 2017 so don’t delay (international applicants should apply by June 1st, if early consideration is necessary for visa purposes).
Innovators from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and the 23 Native nations that share the same geography are encouraged to apply now for a new and different scholarship opportunity open only to people in these regions: the SOCAP17 Bush Foundation Scholarship for Social Business Creators.
For more words of advice from this cohort, read Tips on How to Get the Most out of SOCAP from the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs