Client Story – Mi Casa Resource Center
by Natasha Pepperl, Mi Casa Resource Center
Declining government and traditional funding coupled with a growing need for services is causing many nonprofit organizations to pursue entrepreneurial approaches to ensure financial sustainability.
Mi Casa Resource Center, one of Colorado’s oldest and largest Latino-serving organizations dedicated to advancing the economic success of working families, has depended on government funds for most of its 37-year history. But moving forward, Mi Casa is committed to earning its own income to secure its ability to continue serving the community for years to come.
Mi Casa is now in the final stages of launching TalentSource, a full-service staffing agency with a strong focus on bilingual and diverse talent. With more than 30 years of experience helping others start and grow businesses, Mi Casa had a strong foundation on which to start their own enterprise and also learned some valuable lessons along the way.
Collaboration is Key
Throughout 2012 and 2013, a group of social enterprise experts and entrepreneurs – dubbed the Social Enterprise Think Tank – helped Mi Casa assess various social enterprise ideas. Ultimately, the agency settled on a full-service staffing agency capitalizing on Mi Casa’s long history of preparing workers for career path employment, strong employer relationships and access to diverse and bilingual talent.
Collaboration with community experts was a key component of Mi Casa’s business planning process, which resulted in the creation of a comprehensive business plan and helped further the acquisition of startup funding.
Aligning with Mission
It can be easy for nonprofits to forget a social enterprise needs to directly support their mission and how when this is not the case, split focuses and low morale are sure to materialize. “Our business planning process was directed at determining what enterprise made the most sense for Mi Casa to pursue,” said Mi Casa CEO Christine Marquez-Hudson. “TalentSource aligns with Mi Casa’s mission by connecting unemployed and underemployed workers with promising careers and assisting Mi Casa career training graduates in gaining employment experience and full-time positions.”
Integrating For-Profit and Non-Profit Cultures
When a nonprofit adds a social enterprise arm after its conception, rifts can rise between the organization’s programmatic and business sides due to differing points of view and lack of communication.
One way to avoid such conflict is to emphasize the shared mission and core values. Holding an all staff meeting to brainstorm how the for-profit will relate to the non-profit and to answer questions before the social enterprise is launched can also open communication lines and diffuse tension.
Think Outside the Box
Just as with any business, creativity is a must when launching a social enterprise.
Mi Casa decided to pursue a non-traditional avenue to market its social enterprise, a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign. The agency is leveraging the campaign to get the word out about TalentSource while simultaneously raising final startup funds.
“We want to get the community involved to raise awareness of TalentSource and the importance of sustaining our work of empowering families to achieve economic self-sufficiency,” said Christine Marquez-Hudson.
Please consider making an investment in TalentSource to ensure Mi Casa has the support it needs to continue empowering thousands of Denver families to achieve economic self-sufficiency each year. Learn more here.