The start of Bindaas Social Ventures – by David Ashworth
I’ve been a “business” person over the last 20 years and in 2006 found myself in looking for change. At the time I did not know what ‘change’ I was looking for but understood that my current role was not fulfilling and lacked purpose. Without a family to support I was in a fortunate position and left my corporate role with Fidelity Investments in February of 2006.
I decided to travel for six months and drove from Boston to Guatemala. My reasons were purely self-indulgent. I wanted to learn Spanish and discovered I could improve my ability to ski by visiting a number of ski resorts located in the rocky Mountains if I were to drive. This is how I came to drive to Guatemala by way of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. It was quite an adventure and choosing to drive the smallest roads along the Pacific Coast of Mexico provided many opportunities to interact with the small communities I discovered along the way.
What I did not expect is how my firsthand experience in witnessing the harsh realities of poverty while touring the nonprofit SafePassage.org in Guatemala City would change me. At the time there was not much I thought I could (I was limited by what I knew and still working to release old ways of thinking) but I did think of an idea to create a business (a bilingual call center) which would allow the business to support not only its own operations but the expense of running the non-profit as well. Sadly, I was not able to realize the dream at the time and went on to complete my MBA and grow and sell a small construction company I started in Boston.
During the next few years while growing BostonBiGlass.com I continued to visit Guatemala frequently and discovered that my idea in was not that farfetched and that a whole course of study was emerging in the field of Social Enterprise Development. I read some books, took a class and traveled to Ghana to teach entrepreneurship with Babson College to help feed my desire to better understand and discover more about Social Enterprise Development.
I grew the construction company for three years until August 2009 when I was able to sell it and allow myself the time to pursue my new career direction. One with a social mission. With my exposure at Safe Passage School for children in 2006 I was able to see the need of these children and families and lack of opportunity and knew I wanted to do something when the time was right. I continued to learn about social enterprise ventures over the next few years, completed the MBA.
My experience in Ghana further fueled my desire to work in a cause related venture. I saw firsthand how these brilliant children and young adults had no opportunity to practice what they learned upon graduation. For sure there was a better way. It was in 2010 when I was able to take advantage of an opportunity to volunteer in Kenya working for the social enterprise SamaSource.
SamaSource was implementing an idea not too different from my original thoughts in operational design and the ability to absorb large numbers of people into the workforce. The experience was instrumental in my starting Bindaas Social Ventures by providing first hand insight to how the model was being implemented and what way I might be able to contribute to the growing field.
During 2011 I worked to establish Bindaas Social Ventures as a 501c3 in California and hopefully contribute to solutions that will alleviate poverty and help to improve the lives of many.