Testimony by Kara Peterson from Texas Lutheran University (TLU) Social Entrepreneurship Program 2016 Course
“After hearing and witnessing the story of VOS and its founder Joey, I left the classroom amazed and equally inspired. Ever since I was a child (6 or 7 years of age) I always wanted to own an international business. I grew up constantly influenced by that desire but recently found myself feeling burdened for the billions less fortunate (but no less deserving) than I. Struggling with these seemingly dueling passions, I was amazed to see first-hand the success and influence of Joey’s business that while it was for profit, it still has made a huge impact for the people of Guatemala.
The greatest impact left on me by the VOS presentation was how the company cares for its employees. I loved how Joey talked about how VOS provides all of its factory workers with the opportunity for an education. Seeing the classroom and the workers who have eagerly seized the opportunity to learn was such a precious moment for me. Knowing that there are so many incredibly intelligent individuals who desire to go so far in life but are stunted by their situation (be it racial, social, economic, or otherwise) I was overjoyed to see how Joey’s company was taking such a comparatively small step to have a life changing impact on the locals of Guatemala.
Additionally, I really latched on to the 3 rules to live by that Joey introduced to us. 1) Believe in Yourself; 2) Be Versatile; 3) Build Your Network. While he was speaking about them in a social endeavor/business viewpoint, I also find them applicable to my personal life (as everyone should!). My favorite one was the “Build Your Network” tip, as I had previously not given too much thought to that aspect in my life. However, through Joey’s talk, I came to realize how essential networking and knowing the right people are in building a business, product, mission, etc.
Companies that are “for-profit” yet give some portion of profit to a social mission/cause, have always held an interesting place in my personal opinion. I have frequently viewed these sorts of companies as “lesser” when compared to non-profits because they for some reason decided that they want to “make money” and do not “care” as much as other social initiatives. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, I believe that in some/many cases, “for-profit” businesses with a social bent can actually have more potential to affect a greater portion of their world.
Actual for-profit companies actually have a better potential for longevity and therefore a better potential for opportunities to give/help others in the long run. Let’s also not forget that “for-profit” companies actually make money (for the most part) and consequently have a chance to give/do more than non-profits who spend their whole existence trying to scrape enough together to make an impact. This is all to say that in a lot of instances, companies that want to make a positive change in their world don’t have to be non-profit to do so. There is a need for both.“
About the TLU Social Entrepreneurship Program
TLU’s Bachelor of Arts in Social Entrepreneurship is part of their business school but also partners with their math, history, theology and communications departments to create specialized areas of concentration in Nonprofit Leadership, Arts for Social Change, Mental Health Community Interventions, and Faith, Culture & Diversity. The degree is interdisciplinary and prepares students for a career in the nonprofit or for-profit social venture arenas. Click here for more information.
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