Three years ago I moved to Indonesia to undertake the work necessary to realize the vision of a nonprofit organization that I founded, to create sustainable, community-based economies. Previously, I occasionally traveled to the archipelago to monitor the revival of a dated USAID proposal for island residents of a marine park. However, after two years sidelining the lack of local political initiative, I accepted the failed attempt as an awakening to the challenges of sustainable development and moved on. Trading my scuba gear for a business plan, I started again fresh.
I immersed myself in local cultures, learning languages, attending religious ceremonies, and building a network of social enterprises, while living alongside social entrepreneurs in village homestays. As I traveled through SE Asia, I sought out social entrepreneurs, triggering discussions that signaled a need for a community-based startup accelerator. Soon i had the ingredients to kick off a new program. The most direct means to tackle social issues is to utilize resources already in existence in the community. As with community buy-in and participation, local context is key. The accelerator program broke down boundaries between outsiders and locals, enabling creative thinking about problem-solving together, while focusing on connecting solutions with local resources.
The model was successful, as evidenced by the increased revenue of our partners post-program and the satisfaction of their experience. The ultimate challenge was, and always is, sustainability. From early on, I endeavored to simplify the business into systems; the entire organization was soon running on templates and automations, which led my thinking to how far the startup accelerator program could scale, and on which platform it would be the most effective and efficient.
So this is where I am today, taking pause at the culmination of my shared experience with entrepreneurs on the ground, face to face, and looking forward towards an opportunity to research, design and create a user-customized, responsive application that helps social entrepreneurs everywhere navigate the complexities of a startup, even in those remote villages where I attended religious ceremonies.
Splash page: entreprenolo.gy