Thursday, August 12, 2010

Social values a basis for our company

I felt really inspired by having read the previous blog entries and I applaud the journey some of my fellow August bloggers had taken. So, I would like to talk about our journey and share some of our philosophies with you. Maybe I should introduce myself first. My name is Martina Ernst, and I am the CEO of Wo-Built Inc, a Design and Build General Contractor which is 100% female owned. Elida Huignard, president of Wo-Built, and I co-founded the company 3 ½ years ago with the social mission to mentor and help women enter and succeed in the building trades. And, we did this through a For Profit Company for self determination. Doing this has its challenges. Our business model is to finance our social mission through our building revenue. We are ineligible for almost all grants available for Not-for-Profits and our social message often distracts from our income source - designing and building home renovations, additions and custom houses. But Elida and I have the unfailing believe that companies need to have a social mission at their cores to make a difference in our communities. Our company was founded on a social mission rather than adopting one at a later date, I guess this makes us social entrepreneurs. One of the main issues of social entrepreneurship is that you are splitting your focus between what is your bread and butter money maker (in our case innovative design and build) and what is the heart of the company. Also by having to fund the social initiative through our profits (and what start-up company makes money in the first couple of years?) our mentoring efforts were not as extensive as we would have liked. But we are continuing to find new ways of furthering women’s careers in the trades. We see ourselves a stepping stones in women’s careers by giving them a first job in a construction related environment. They obtain valuable work experience which they then can take to larger companies that are able to provide them with apprenticeships. As we grow we hope to make a difference for many women who want to have a career in the trades. Martina Ernst CEO - Wo-Built Inc

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