I’d like to take a moment and talk about something near and dear to my heart – social enterprise. I’ve been working with Rebuild Globally on their brand and communication strategy for a few months now. Rebuild is an incredible nonprofit organization based in Haiti that provides education and job training programs to fight against the extreme poverty in Haiti, and since 2010, they have unapologetically (with help from a ton of affiliated organizations and programs!) spearheaded changing the narrative of how Haiti is perceived across the globe. Through their job training, education and community development programs, they empower the men and women of Haiti to obtain degrees, work placement, and end the cycle of poverty in their lives and in their communities. Most importantly, they celebrate Haitian culture and shine a much-needed spotlight on the misconceptions of the Haitian people and are striving every day to help transform the families and communities of the people of Haiti. Hands down, working with Rebuild’s founder and leadership team has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.
In fact, we most recently launched an initiative called Haiti Discovery Trips, a 3-day immersive trip designed to showcase Rebuild Globally’s work in Port-au-Prince and give attendees an insider’s experience to global development and fighting poverty in Haiti. It’s a unique opportunity to witness their programs, meet the people behind the organization and truly feel the impact Rebuild is creating for their communities. These social impact trips are designed to focus on supporting local businesses, reigniting tourism, and showing guests a side of Haiti typically not portrayed in the media; a vibrant and culturally rich island that’s on the rise. These trips certainly aren’t for everyone, but if you are an avid explorer and seeker of new travel experiences, I highly encourage you to check it out!
I most recently sat down with the Rebuild team to talk a little bit about their work and my involvement to use Sohuis as a force for good, check out our conversation below.
TELL US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS AND THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR WORK?
Sohuis [so-house] is a digital communications and design consultancy I founded in 2016 that was initially inspired by my work as Director of Marketing for the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA). Since then, Sohuis has morphed into a unique consultancy experience that combines various innovation principles and disciplines I’ve learned over the better part of 10 years working within the marketing and communications landscape. Now, I help socially-responsible organizations create sustainable brand strategies through the Sohuis framework, an open-source communications framework that is built on timeless best practices and proven marketing methods that helps companies improve how they engage and communicate value to their customers.
From early on, I’ve always been enamoured with cause-based organizations and socially responsible companies, I just feel it makes sense to ‘do good’ for others and support sustainable initiatives that help – even in the smallest of circumstances – to push society forward in responsible ways. It was at InBIA (a nonprofit and global network of business incubators, accelerators, coworking spaces and other entrepreneurial support organizations) that I got to see first-hand the impact an organization could have with the right mission, grit and tenacity. In some ways, InBIA was the best (and worst!) thing that ever happened to me because now I don’t think I could never go back to working a basic “9-5”. Knowing the impact nonprofits and other social enterprises have on our world, and even large corporations who are forging ahead with innovate solutions in their own verticals, is astounding. I just knew I could never go back to what I was doing before. And more importantly, I knew I had value to add and could be part of these solutions on my own terms.
AS AN ENTREPRENEUR AND BUSINESS OWNER, WHAT VALUES ARE IMPORTANT FOR YOU BUSINESS? HOW DO YOU UPHOLD THESE VALUES?
Funny you should ask, I just updated these on my website! As an entrepreneur and female founder, I personally have found in my experiences that clear communication, astute problem solving, openness, decisiveness, and patience have been the tried and true pillars of making successful steps forward. They have never steered me wrong. These specific traits are also seen in elephants and are one of the many reasons I chose the elephant as the brand iconography for Sohuis.
In terms of Sohuis values, they are as follows:
- Customer-focused collaboration
- Culture eats strategy for breakfast
- Our collective solutions must be sustainable
- Focused on impact
- Validate, rinse, repeat
- Design matters
Coincidentally, these business values are near and dear to my heart and therefore, very easy to uphold. It’s really quite simple, when I evaluate projects/collaborations/opportunities, if the components of the project, whether it’s the team, goals and objectives, etc., do not align in a way that will not allow me to follow these values, I simply don’t take the project. This resoluteness comes from years of missteps and mistakes from taking on projects that I knew weren’t a *right* fit. I have found that staying true to these values at all times is what keeps me moving forward on the path to working with clients (like Rebuild!) that I love.
WE BELIEVE BUSINESS, PURPOSE, AND GIVING BACK ARE INTRICATELY LINKED AND LOVE TO PARTNER WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE LEADING THE WAY IN THIS AREA. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE GROWING LINK BETWEEN BUSINESS AND DOING GOOD?
Based on user-engagement patterns and my experience in watching customers engage with brands across platforms, I absolutely know to the fiber of my core that if a company isn’t following the business, purpose, giving back model, they will struggle, and they will fall behind. I share this quote in a brand persona building workshop that I host and I love it:
“In an era where consumer trust has plummeted across all industries, honesty and authenticity have emerged as the attributes that matter most. Consumers, more than ever before, are holding brands to a higher standard. They are looking for more than price, quality and convenience. Sure, they want value for their money. But they also want values.” – Fortify
This is so spot on – and if your company’s values do not represent some version of this business/purpose cocktail mix, you are behind the curve. The best way to grow the link between businesses doing good is for businesses to truly understand how much this HELPS their business. You can make significant revenue and give back at the same time, and with a staggering statistic that consumers spend more than twice as much as average customers on the brands they are loyal to speaks volumes to the importance of building strong brand advocates. There are many known motivators to what turns someone into a brand advocate, and giving back to causes that you, as an organization, care about is surely one way to get there. It’s a win-win for your customers, your brand, and the cause you’re supporting!
YOU HAVE WORKED WITH OUR ORGANIZATION AT MANY DIFFERENT CAPACITIES… FROM VOLUNTEER TO EXPERT CONSULTANT. WHY REBUILD GLOBALLY? WHAT ABOUT OUR WORK RESONATES WITH YOU THE MOST?
Is this the part where I get to blabber on about how much I LOVE Rebuild?! I mean, I honestly don’t know where to start. I was first introduced to Julie a few years ago through a nonprofit initiative that helped female founders grow and scale their companies in Central Florida and I’ve been following her story, along with Rebuild, ever since. I have to admit, I was always a silent admirer up until recently, and what I loved most about Rebuild (with the exception of the mission) was the energy of the team. Anyone could see from miles away that Julie’s passion radiated throughout the team and permeated through the work. Between Rebuild’s incredible programming and staggering rates of job creation to how you’ve been steadfast in helping to change the narrative of Haiti – THEN you came out with a gorgeous spring collection last year at Runway to Haiti (I bought like 4 pieces), I had the capacity at that point to get involved on a deeper level.
I am constantly in awe of what Rebuild is doing, but if I had to choose, what resonates with me the most about your work is the dignity and power you give back to the families in Haiti.
“Rebuild has created a sustainable infrastructure of training and job creation that empowers the men and women of Haiti to capitalize on their strengths, leverage the goods and materials unique to their region, while providing a platform to expand in areas that are unfamiliar.”
I’m hopeful that many more countries can experience what Rebuild Globally has to offer, and I’m excited to stay tuned for what holds for your future!
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER ENTREPRENEURS AND BUSINESS OWNERS ABOUT USING THEIR BUSINESS AS A FORCE FOR GOOD?
O man – my advice would be to find your tribe (or your collection of tribes). Find those organizations and support systems that are building the foundations for doing good in areas that you care about. Whether it’s saving the oceans and turtles, supporting local artists in a rural region, food sustainability (ugly fruit is a thing, and you should look in to it), programs that support veterans – whatever it is – find those organizations and get involved. Volunteer at a local event, offer free advice, reach out to people on LinkedIn, offer to host a workshop or write a blog, just go for it and rely on your company’s ability to bring value in this area. Overtime, you’ll start to create your own support system and networks and before you know it, your business will be a dominant force for good!
The original article can be found here.