Micro economic business model to employ the homeless

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I developed this concept and helped create it along with the rest of the Net Impact Austin leadership team and 30 community volunteers. Some which where homeless themselves. It's a dynamic solution to empower the homeless to earn a living wage doing dignified work while taking into consideration the many complexities they face both in their personal life and in terms of seeking and maintaining gainful employment.

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  • My family and I are currently living at Haven for Hope in San Antonio. We have tried presenting ideas like this to the different managers here, however no one has really tried to bring the idea to any one higher up. They just seem to want to put everyone through the same process of finding a minimum wage job and housing. My husband and I are entrepreneurs, but we just ended up in a really bad situation. We just wish that we could be guided in the right direction as far as getting the things we need in order to help our business succeed. I commend you guys for being open minded enough to think outside of the box in regards to homelessness. I wish Haven For Hope would take note!
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  • Kudos from Hope for Outdoor People, Inc., in San Jose California. We've been working on a similar, loosely-based model, for just about 2-years now. What kind of responses are you getting, from local, city, state and other religious organizations? Just curious!
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Micro economic business model to employ the homeless

  1. 1. MICRO-ECONOMIC BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE HOMELESS
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Inc. (MLF) is a non-profit social outreach ministry to the homeless and indigent working poor. The organization has its roots in Austin, Texas’ St. John Neumann Catholic Church. </li></ul><ul><li>MLF’s mission is to provide food, clothing, and dignity to our brothers and sisters in need, and we currently accomplish this mission through the use of 17 catering trucks that go out onto the city streets of Austin, San Antonio, New Orleans, Providence, Minneapolis and Nashville every night of the week and feed more than 1,000 people in need. This work is enabled by a network of over 12,000 volunteers. Additionally, our radical Habitat on Wheels program is providing housing in a supportive community environment. ( www.mlfnow.org/HOW ) </li></ul>
  3. 3. Organizational Overview <ul><li>Organization Structure: 501c3 non-profit corporation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Board: 15 members </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Employees: 11 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Volunteers: >12,000 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2009 budget: ~$1.6 million </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sources: 90% public support, 10% corporate and foundations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Uses: 85% Program Services, 8% Fundraising, 7% Management & General </li></ul></ul><ul><li>MLF leverages a vast network of partnerships across both the public and private sectors </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Micro-Enterprise Idea To achieve the goal stated above, the leadership of Mobile Loaves & Fishes proposes to develop a 'micro-economic business program' that can complement its existing Habitat on Wheels (HOW) program. HOW gets people off the street by providing them with recreational vehicle housing and the support they need to improve their circumstances and heal from the ravages of living on the streets. This solution not only provides participants with housing, but also with a supportive community that is dedicated to helping them effect positive change in their lives and guide them to re-instill a purpose in their lives. Learn more about HOW and MLF: www.mlfnow.org/how “ How do we get someone off of the streets for a small but meaningful amount of money while giving them the freedom and flexibility that entrepreneurs usually have?” - Alan Graham (President, MLF)
  5. 5. Why Micro-Enterprise? Recognizing that many of our homeless population desire to have fulfilling employment but whose circumstances might not warrant gainful employment we want to implement a business model to create work for those who are physically and mentally capable. Many in the industry of service to the homeless have noticed that most struggle with the typical structure of employment and may even be learning disabled; struggling to keep a commitment and to stay focused. When asked what they best like about being homeless one of the common answers is freedom. We will reach out to those entrepreneurs in the community who desire to mentor the formerly homeless in starting small flexible businesses. Skills taught will be startup, management, marketing, customer service and operations. All of the profit will go towards the newly minted entrepreneur. The goal is to create a modest living income source that is sufficient to live with dignity within the Habitat on Wheels community. That income is approximately $850 per month net . “ You will find that most of the individuals who live on the streets have similar makeup to many of our entrepreneurs but have never had the education, formation or mentorship to develop this skill. Some of the best are standing on our street corners marketing for our spare change.” - Alan Graham (President, MLF)
  6. 6. Modest Living Income INCOME Gross Monthly Income $1,032.18 Social Security $64.00 Medicare $14.97 Withholding $103.22 TOTAL $849.99 MODEST LIVING EXPENSES Housing & Utilities $325 Food, Clothing, Medical $340 Miscellaneous $185 TOTAL $850 30% of the HUD income limits for a single individual living in Austin, Texas is $14,950. I believe we can house with dignity single individuals who net on a monthly basis about $850 per month. We call this the Modest Living Income (MLI). - Alan Graham (President, MLF) Universal Living Wage Austin, Texas www.universallivingwage.org Austin-Round Rock - $12.92/hour Living wage hours for MLI = ~80/month or ~18.50 hours/week
  7. 7. The “Hand Up” Model! The essence of what we are doing is predicated on transforming the lives of individuals who for whatever reason find themselves in a state of homelessness and by virtue of their personal transformation our broader community is transformed as well. - Alan Graham (President, MLF) The “Hand Up” Model Cost of Homelessness – State of Maine – Greater Portland, September 2007 Cost of housing with HOW is under $4,800/year. Includes rent & utilities.
  8. 8. Impediments to Conventional Employment There are a variety of issues that impact the ability of individuals to keep and maintain conventional employment <ul><li>Criminal History </li></ul><ul><li>Basic needs not met </li></ul><ul><li>Mental Health </li></ul><ul><li>Poor job history </li></ul><ul><li>Need for Freedom </li></ul><ul><li>Hygiene </li></ul><ul><li>Disabilities </li></ul><ul><li>Education </li></ul><ul><li>Addictions </li></ul><ul><li>Physical Health </li></ul>
  9. 9. Micro-Enterprise Concepts <ul><li>“ The greatest examples of these micro-entrepreneurial opportunities are in third world countries like Mexico. Cross any border and you will enter into a gauntlet of small business entrepreneurs hawking everything from Chiclets to leather belts to jewelry.” </li></ul><ul><li> - Alan Graham (President, MLF) </li></ul>MLF’s vision includes the creation of a number of simple, viable business programs that will provide an infrastructure allowing for entrepreneurial activity by the population that MLF serves. Initial ideas include: <ul><li>Hot Dog Tricycle </li></ul><ul><li>Burger Waggin’…the Dog </li></ul><ul><li>Refurbished Bicycles </li></ul><ul><li>Amazon.com </li></ul><ul><li>Care for your car for teens </li></ul><ul><li>Ebay </li></ul><ul><li>Seasonal stand </li></ul><ul><li>Fresh Orange Juice Stand </li></ul><ul><li>Arts & Crafts </li></ul><ul><li>Vintage RV refurbishing </li></ul><ul><li>Ice Cream/Candy Tricycle </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile Vending </li></ul>
  10. 10. Process For selection and training purposes, we envision that the MEP would be led by an Advisory Board that have established rapport with the target community. The program would take a tiered approach and offer three levels of opportunities : <ul><li>Structure </li></ul><ul><li>Independent vendor </li></ul><ul><li>Mentor – a successful independent vendor that volunteers to work with new participants </li></ul><ul><li>Entrepreneurs & Volunteers </li></ul><ul><li>Training </li></ul><ul><li>Individual members work closely with Independent Vendors, as a case manager would, monitor participant’s success and provide him/her with guidance. Member provide updates which will allow them to give constructive feedback to Independent Vendors. </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteer trainers/Partner Organizations conduct periodic educational seminars such as business skills, money management and customer service. </li></ul><ul><li>Successful Independent Vendors become Mentors and allow new program participants to shadow them. </li></ul><ul><li>Members/community volunteers assist successful Mentors with guidance, planning and networking to start /run successful venture. </li></ul><ul><li>Selection </li></ul><ul><li>Members would nominate target individuals for review and selection by the board. </li></ul><ul><li>Members would approach the targeted individuals to gauge interest </li></ul><ul><li>Members would request information from the interested individuals on drug habits, mental health, criminal records, education and work experience to select those that are perceived to most likely succeed. </li></ul><ul><li>Members will invite successful Independent vendors to become mentors for new participants </li></ul><ul><li>Members will invite successful mentors to participate in an entrepreneurial program that will help them develop technical and management skills </li></ul>
  11. 11. SWOT Analysis Remarkably most of the folks who live on the streets already know how to fish but it is up to us to guide them to get the license to fish. -Alan Graham <ul><li>Strengths </li></ul><ul><li>Homelessness makes you very entrepreneurial </li></ul><ul><li>The vast network of volunteers and partnerships </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to fund on a small scale </li></ul><ul><li>Living Wage income </li></ul><ul><li>No for-profit layer </li></ul><ul><li>Little overhead </li></ul><ul><li>People love the “teach a person to fish” concept </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration with other agencies </li></ul><ul><li>Very large volunteer base </li></ul><ul><li>Flexible </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom (you are your own boss) </li></ul><ul><li>Weaknesses </li></ul><ul><li>Reliability of this population </li></ul><ul><li>Basic needs MUST be met first </li></ul><ul><li>Mental Health Issues </li></ul><ul><li>Addictions </li></ul><ul><li>Money accountability </li></ul><ul><li>Will volunteers step forward </li></ul><ul><li>Opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>Sporting events </li></ul><ul><li>Live music and Festivals </li></ul><ul><li>6 th Street </li></ul><ul><li>SoCo </li></ul><ul><li>Market demand for services </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration with other organizations, both non-profits and for-profits </li></ul><ul><li>Threats </li></ul><ul><li>The lack of a safety net </li></ul><ul><li>The entitlement mentality </li></ul><ul><li>Regulatory Issues </li></ul>
  12. 12. Mobile Loaves & Fishes – Visionary founder of concept and the 501c3 under which it will operate. MLF has ~12,000 volunteers from all walks of life who can provide time, talent and treasure to this concept. Net Impact Austin - Net Impact Austin is an action-based organization of professionals and entrepreneurs working directly with Austin business and non-profits to further social and environmental sustainability. Have been strategic in vetting out the business plan concept. SCORE (Service Corp of Retired Executives) – Counselors to America’s small businesses. SCORE here in Austin has developed a seminar covering such topics as customer service, basic finance, IRS, sales tax, marketing etc. Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas - The Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas is a community of entrepreneurs. We amplify the philanthropic efforts of our member companies, their entrepreneurs, boards and employees who invest time, talent and equity to make Central Texas an even better place to live, work and play. Our programs help build successful corporate cultures and allow start-up companies to participate philanthropically, even though charitable funds may be scarce. Partners
  13. 13. <ul><li>Holds 200 hot dogs, 150 canned drinks </li></ul><ul><li>Dog + condiments costs $.50, drink $.50 </li></ul><ul><li>Dog sells for $1.50, drink for $1.00 </li></ul><ul><li>Average sale is 2 dogs, 1 drink or $4 </li></ul><ul><li>100 Daily sales @ $4 - $150 in costs - $50 in add’l costs = $200/day profit to entrepreneur </li></ul><ul><li>Scalable </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile Vending Permit attached to commissary (MLF has 6 commissaries in Austin) </li></ul><ul><li>Manageable regulations </li></ul><ul><li>All in, cart under $5,000 </li></ul><ul><li>Could empower up to 6 people each averaging $1,000/mo – enough to live in Habitat on Wheels RV Community </li></ul>Hot Dog Tricycle
  14. 14. <ul><li>Retrofit vintage recreational vehicle such as an Airstream into a mobile hamburger/hot dog grill and offer catering services to parties and events. It would be staffed by those that would be health department certified and trained. </li></ul><ul><li>Modeled after the for profit Hamburger Man in Dallas </li></ul><ul><li>Substantial income can be earned by the entrepreneur(s) </li></ul><ul><li>Scalable and flexible </li></ul><ul><li>Perfect for private parties, birthday parties, tailgate parties etc </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration with other agencies who serve similar populations </li></ul>Burger Waggin’…The Dog
  15. 15. The local market is perfect to support this type of enterprise. More and more local upwardly mobile professionals are living in downtown lofts and condominiums. This prevents interaction with the natural beauty of the central Texas Hill country. By providing small, lightweight travel trailers which can be towed by the normal automobile, people can enjoy the exceptional state park system without the substantial capital investment in the RV equipment.   Rentals of these small RV’s would be affordable for those able to enjoy the relaxation of camping with the comforts of home. The 50’s style small camper trailers have become popular as of late, for the couple or small family wishing to “get away” without the hassle of a cumbersome large RV and truck combination. Larger RV’s would be refurbished for our HOW program reducing the cost of RV acquisition by 30%-40%. RV Restoration/Rentals <ul><li>Reconstruction of RV’s </li></ul><ul><li>Painting in custom colors </li></ul><ul><li>Clean-up and make ready crews </li></ul><ul><li>Potential to employ up to 10 fulltime crew people </li></ul>
  16. 16. The Neatoscan service utilizes a barcode scanner, PDA (Portable Data Assistant) and earpiece to allow you to quickly and easily determine the value of books and other merchandise while disconnected from the internet. Getting started is easy! Amazon Dot Com Book Sales
  17. 17. <ul><li>eBay is The World's Online Marketplace®, enabling trade on a local, national and international basis. With a diverse and passionate community of individuals and small businesses, eBay offers an online platform where millions of items are traded each day. </li></ul><ul><li>Easy to start: </li></ul><ul><li>Need computer and internet connection </li></ul><ul><li>Mentors </li></ul><ul><li>Stuff </li></ul><ul><li>Low overhead </li></ul><ul><li>Flexible </li></ul><ul><li>Scalable </li></ul><ul><li>Low start-up </li></ul>Sell items in the worlds marketplace. This is great for people who are “scrappers”, people who know value when they see it. Homeless people have a penchant for finding stuff in all places.
  18. 18. Seasonal Stand Seasonal and flexible work opportunities that require unskilled labor. Opportunities to employ the formerly homeless and make a Modest Living Income.
  19. 19. <ul><li>Place high end deli foods that would appeal to the Austin high tech worker </li></ul><ul><li>Permission from companies such as Dell, 3M, City of Austin, IBM, Applied Materials etc </li></ul><ul><li>Scalable and flexible </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration with existing successful restaurant owners/managers to ensure success </li></ul><ul><li>Collaboration with other agencies who serve similar populations </li></ul>Mobile Vending Mobile Loaves & Fishes has a fleet of catering vehicles; 11 in Austin alone. These vehicles are available for the most part every morning and noon time Monday through Friday. Concept would be to have a high end deli service (Thundercloud type) for a breakfast and lunch meals with permission to visit corporate campuses around Austin .
  20. 20. <ul><li>Scalable and flexible </li></ul><ul><li>Tools are readily available and inexpensive </li></ul><ul><li>Popular items are easy to build and affordable </li></ul><ul><li>Handmade items perfect for seasonal lot sales </li></ul>Woodworking Shop/Tool Bank Many of our brothers and sisters who live on the streets are very gifted in the area of carpentry and auto mechanics. We would have an inventory of tools available for check out so that when opportunities came up the individual would be equipped to perform any given task. Additionally, a fully equipped wood shop would be available for those who are capable of creating items such as those below. “ Remarkably most of the folks who live on the streets already know how to fish but it is up to us to guide them to get the license to fish.” -Alan Graham

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