Most of the posts on this site have to do with the challenges faced by people who wish to overcome a life of systemic, generational poverty. The women we serve come from disadvantaged backgrounds and few, if any, have ever had anyone invest anything in them. Our posts are usually peppered with advice concerning life skills, courage, financial literacy or any number of topics that encourage independence.
Today, I’m going to “draw back the curtain” and let you in on the nuts and bolts of how Women With Drive Foundation (WWDF) has developed into the organization that it has become and how the Business Innovation Factory Conference played a part. NOTE: There is a danger of wonk-speak, and I may drop into the shorthand lingo of the nonprofit world. I ask in advance for your forgiveness and hope you’ll bear with me. FWIW, it’s a pretty accurate cross-section into my melon and how I think ~ stream-of-consciousness and all!
A year ago, I was invited to attend a conference about innovation by Saul Kaplan, the founder and chief catalyst at the Business Innovation Factory Conference in Providence, RI. At the time, WWDF had completed the arduous and complex process of securing our legal structure, board representation, IRS requirements and had begun to build relationships “on the ground” among all sorts of support organizations that help provide the complementary skills that fulfill the five platforms of holistic autonomy (as determined by our model and goals for self-sufficiency). Holy wow. That was one long sentence!
I was intrigued by the opportunity to associate with, and learn from, people whose natural state of existence was that of a changemaker. It was an exhilarating opportunity. The common denominator among all of those attending (and the storytellers who spoke) was that each had decided to try something different, regardless of their industry or discipline.
These were they who upset the apple cart. Shook things up. Took a stand. …Each had an innate curiosity and a willingness to see what was possible. Each had decided to tap into the unique characteristic that set them apart and to develop it ~ to see where it led.
As someone who had launched a nonprofit model that incorporated a collaborative effort across public and private organizations to address the vital missing element of transportation in eradicating poverty, how could I refuse? I couldn’t and I didn’t. And those two days have made all the difference.
- Through attending BIF7 and establishing connections with CEOs and founders of related industries, we have been able to “leapfrog” forward through what I estimate to be five years’ worth of iterations and “mistakes”
- Through connecting with other changemakers and continuing to maintain a relationship with them, we have successfully awarded cars in two Iowa counties
- We have been able to reach out to a wider network where solutions exist on another scale and adjust them to fit our market and needs
- As an individual, I have grown in confidence and assurance, which helps us as an organization and the women we serve
The goal of the conference is to connect innovators across strata, with the idea that change happens in the area between silos. Through the ‘random collisions’ possible at such a convergence, unorthodox and singular solutions are crafted and implemented.
What’s most exciting for me is that these $25 words that I’m throwing around like Tootsie Rolls from a float at a Fourth of July parade is that THESE CONCEPTS AND CONNECTIONS AFFECT REAL PEOPLE. There are women with children who benefit directly from the outcomes of this conference. Their lives’ trajectories have been altered. Their futures are brighter. Their children will learn different realities.
That’s worth the price of admission. I’ve got my ticket. I hope to see you there.
Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation) or “Like” us on facebook.