In its ongoing mission to find market-based solutions to alleviate global poverty, CapCon is drawn to organizations that adhere to the “hand up, not a handout” philosophy. Street Business School is just such an organization. CapCon has provided a 3-year grant to Street Business School to support their ongoing initiative to empower female entrepreneurs in economically challenged communities worldwide.
Founded after a chance encounter with a woman making beads by hand in a Ugandan slum, Street Business School was started by Devin Hibbard, Ginny Jordan and Torkin Wakefield. The woman they met, Millie Grace Akena, would become the inspiration for BeadsForLife, which is now a successful fair-trade label that employs women artisans and helps them sell their wares in the export market. Many women have benefitted from the program. But the BeadsForLife team soon realized that they could do more.
The BeadforLife team had developed a training program as a critical part of teaching women living in poverty to create local businesses. It soon became clear that this training curriculum was a core component of the value in the BeadsForLife organization. So it made sense to form a separate, stand-alone organization to distribute the training program. Street Business School was created to provide a method of scaling that simple idea to empower a broader base of women entrepreneurs, in order to provide additional leverage to lift even more women like Millie out of poverty. Street Business School’s mandate is to distribute their business training curriculum on a global scale. To accomplish this, SBS employs an innovative “social franchising” business model. Social franchising is an idea that takes a page from the business sector. “The classic example of a franchise is McDonalds, where you can get the same burger anywhere in the world.” says SBS CEO Devin Hibbard. “With social franchising, you still replicate a proven model, but the goal is maximizing social benefit and impact, rather than profits. So basically, social franchising creates a global network of local organizations to create a solution to a global problem.”
CapCon’s contribution has enabled an expansion of the program in support of additional entrepreneurs. “We are grateful for our continued partnership with the CapCon Foundation team” said a Street Business School spokesperson, “which this year alone has provided organizational support to SBS and enabled two additional organizations, Friends of Orphans and Haemophilia Foundation of Uganda, to become certified SBS franchisees, known as a Global Catalyst Partners (GCPs). The CapCon Foundation’s multi-year gift enables us to uniquely learn together and innovate as we prepare for the next phase of SBS’ growth.” CapCon Executive Director Erika Luitjens also serves as a member of SBS’ Advisory Committee and anti-human trafficking sub-committee.
For the long term, CapCon and SBS see enormous potential in this program, and are taking on aggressive goals in terms of growth. Say the SBS website, “Street Business School is a leader in global training. We’re on a mission to end extreme poverty by empowering women as entrepreneurs, and we teach other organizations how to implement our proven and effective business training. Our world-class and world-changing model will help 1 million people lift themselves from poverty by 2027.”
For CapCon, that is an objective, and an approach, that very well aligned with the mission. The business model and the impact model were both important factors in CapCon’s decision to provide support to SBS. “Street Business School checks three very important boxes in terms of fit for CapCon”, said Erika Luitjens. “One, it is fundamentally about empowering women. Two, it enable entrepreneurs to create profitable businesses, which is the best way to alleviate poverty in our view. And three, it intrinsically and specifically addresses the challenge of scaling, so it has the potential to deliver a global impact”.