The following article was written by Hila Mehr for The Huffington Post. Hila is a StartingBloc Fellow in Social Innovation and MBA student at Columbia University.
After spending a year voluntarily living in transitional housing for homeless and day laborers in Charleston, South Carolina, Derek Snook had an idea that could guide the homeless in his community towards self-sufficiency by creating a better model of a temporary employment agency. The only problem was that he didn't have the resources or network to help him launch his idea. Working with a friend, they weren't sure where to start. "We didn't know what we were doing. We literally Googled how to start a non-profit temporary employment agency and nothing came up," Derek explained. "We were two 23-year-old guys with an idea and a dream, and it was about not giving up."
The challenges of social entrepreneurship were not lost on Derek, who started working on IES Labor Services in 2009. Four years later, he's raised money, employed staff, hired over 50 workers daily, and added more than $100,000 to workers' wages through the IES Hope Fund. While Derek was able to successfully build his non-profit, many aspiring social entrepreneurs fail to move beyond the critical initial idea phase.
Until recently, there has been a noticeable lack of support for start-up social entrepreneurs at the earliest stages. Now, several new initiatives, including Social Good Startup and UnLtd USA, are aiming to fill this gap by providing funding and mentorship while building leadership and business skills for aspiring social entrepreneurs.
Read the rest of this article over on The Huffington Post.