“We build software…
I spent yesterday and today at an annual conference where we gather public housing authorities from across the country to help them with software, staffing and strategy as they serve their communities.
If you don't know what a housing authority is, I normally describe it like this. You know how there are low income folks in your community? The government offers them subsidies (to lower their rent) if they meet qualifications (income limits, etc). Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) are the quasi-governmental agencies used to run those subsidy programs.
so you can build communities.”
One of the reasons I joined Emphasys 7 years ago was because they were building enterprise software for organizations focused on people who needed affordable housing. It was a mission I could easily get behind.
The PHAs we've gathered for this year's conference collectively manage housing opportunities for about half a million people in the US.
Motivated by a mission
Most of the startups I was involved in before joining Emphasys didn't have much of a mission. We were solving business problems, but our goals were the bottom lines of organizations (as well as ours).
It's likely one of the reasons that keeps me getting up in the morning – the knowledge that there's a bigger thing going on (in our case, helping families find safe places to live and raise their families).
I love Kiva
People who know me already know that I'm a huge fan of Kiva. They're an organization that let's you be part of a variety of entrepreneurial stories across the globe – via micro-loans.
I've supported Viva on a personal level. I know one organization run by my friend (Adam McLane) that donates to Kiva with every project they do.
Digging deeper & going further
Any time you can make the work you do, and how you do it, part of something bigger, I find you're able to reach deeper with staff to motivate and encourage each other for the impossible.
At Emphasys we say that “We build software so you can build communities.” It grounds our development efforts into something more than just writing code. And it helps push us further than we'd normally go – because the impact is made real by the mission that drives us.
TOM's Shoes: Another social business
Recently, even though I knew their story, I've been spending more time looking at TOM's shoes. I don't mean looking into the company. I mean looking at their shoes.
Why? Because my kids have jumped into our family value for generosity, and my 7-year old daughter has fallen in love with the company and how they work. If you don't know them already, for every pair of shoes they sell, they also give a pair away to someone in need.
So we've purchased TOM's shoes for her and, of course, now my daughter talks about them, talks about the child that is wearing her other pair, and more.
Check out this video of their most recent campaign.
What's your mission?
Do you have a strategy for getting my 7 year old daughter to talk non-stop about you? It's an interesting question that didn't really hit me until I saw that video, and I realized how much their campaigns had impacted my daughter.
You don't have to create software to help house the homeless. You don't have to put shoes on people who don't have them. But you have to stand for more than just profit.
What's your mission and how are you sharing it?