eParachute - Chart a path to work you love

eParachute - What Color is Your Parachute? - eParachute.com

The Hoop Fund - Fund Greater Goods

The Hoop Fund www.hoopfund.com
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Rapid Assessment Process

How to Change the World

Why Not?

Tales of a Shaman's Apprentice

Participatory Workshops

Homestays Part 1 - Objectives and Challenges

Homestays are a powerful tool to begin a community-based entrepreneurial effort, but they need to be approached with tremendous humility and planning.

Homestay in AP, India

In 2006, I spent a week living with a family in the Indiramma Nagar slum cluster of the city of Hyderabad. Sheik Baba and Sultana – along with their four children, mother, and niece – hosted me in their small, single room home by the airport wall. Baba and Sultana were perfect hosts. They opened their small home to me and I greatly enjoyed the time I spent with them: despite the extreme heat of the Indian summer (115 °F) and our limited means of communication.

Weeks later while working with our business partners (a group of local women in the slum), a colleague brought up the fact that I had stayed with Baba and Sultana. There was a stir of comments among the women.

"What is it?" I asked.

"The family is very poor,” my colleague translated, “they are surprised that you could stay with them.”

They were particularly surprised that I didn't mind eating and drinking with the family: Westerners aren't normally known for very strong stomachs. To be honest, I had been a bit concerned when Sultana handed me that first cup of water, but it hadn't really seemed practical to refuse. Did I mention how hot it was? After the first cup went down though, and stayed down, I accepted plenty more.

In fact, besides my almost comical trait of not being able to eat without crying – no matter how little spice Sultana tried to cook with – everything had gone great. I had made friends and experienced a side of the community that few outsiders ever get to see. Plus, most of these women who we were building a new business with had met us as a result our team's homestays. Introductions had led to introductions, but it had all started there in the community.

Quite a productive week.

Like riding a bike - 5 tips to breakthrough to business

Kid riding a bike
Kick off the training wheels

When I was a kid learning to ride a bike, I was convinced that I first needed to figure out how to balance. You know... without moving. Fortunately, my mom saw my predicament and one day just pushed me and my bike off the driveway. To my surprise I didn't fall, and pretty quickly I was cruising around the neighborhood on my own. The lesson?

It's hard to get stability without forward momentum.

Similarly, I often notice a key balancing moment when the enterprises I work with go from being just promising ideas to something tangible. In India - for a new venture that promoted soy protein and nutrition - that moment came when our local team went from just talking about soy protein to actually cooking with it in their neighbors' kitchens… hundreds of them. Those experiences, and what it took to make them happen, changed everything: building an initial set of capabilities, credibility, and consumer relationships that actually pulled the business forward.

It's understandable that with so many details to manage in launching a business, you might instead get stuck in my poverbial driveway. But the key is to concentrate less on what your business will look like once it gets moving, and just figure out what you need to do to get it moving. Focus your efforts on an attainable breakthrough that will change everything.

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