An example of this we have heard about is a woman who created jackets for the homeless that could turn into sleeping bags. While this is great for the homeless, it doesn’t change their situation at all; it only improves the situation marginally. The result is that the women used the idea and then created a way for the homeless to make the bags themselves, thus giving them jobs and helping them more than simply handing stuff out. In this new system, the problem of homelessness is being better addressed by finding a way out of it, and at the same time creating a sustainable practice. As the business grows, more homeless will be able to be employed, and as the business becomes profitable it will no longer need to dependent on grants and donations, creating a more effective use of money.
I believe that these ideas are exemplified by the Detroit Food Academy who I am working with this summer. They are addressing problems within high schools such as dropout rates, literacy, and nutrition. Through their programs they are helping the kids, but also finding ways to teach the kids to help themselves. Meanwhile, they are building revenue streams through the selling of products to employ the kids from their program and continue to fund the program. In a situation such as this it allows the program and company to survive without donations and grants and can instead be self sustaining. This becomes the bright light we need more of in the world.