Risk = Reward: What it takes to scale up – Carla Javits

REDF is excited to be setting a new course, leveraging what we’ve learned from 17 years of experience in the social enterprise field.  We believe more than ever in the power of a job to transform lives, and we are deeply committed to accelerating the pace and scale of job creation for people who have the most to gain from joining the workforce.

Our bloggers over the past several weeks are among the most outstanding leaders of social enterprise in the country.  Their accomplishments, alongside others like them, gives REDF the confidence that together we can indeed achieve impact at a much greater scale.

They are the early adopters, the pioneers, the risk-takers.  It is tough to act in the face of skeptical funders or investors that may not believe it is possible to run a business with the social mission of providing jobs and skills training to people who have histories of homelessness or incarceration, people who struggle with some of the most difficult problems any of us have had to face.  It takes nerve to move ahead when confronted by philanthropists and government entities that may not understand how to fund an entity that is a hybrid of a business,  workforce development, and a social service agency.   It takes extraordinary skill and insight to engage other employers and businesses to purchase the goods and services social enterprises provide and employ the people that they train.

What these leaders share is courage and commitment.  They have the courage to step out into the unknown, and do what it takes to achieve real results without letting fear of failure daunt them.  They have the commitment to get to the core of the issue – jobs for people who have faced the toughest of times – without giving up and refocusing on people for whom more conventional solutions might work.  None of them fudge the metrics to make things look better than they are, and all of them drive hard for continuous improvement based on evidence of results.  It is REDF’s privilege to work with such outstanding people and companies.

Together, we are inspired and motivated by the resilience, optimism and joy of people who have overcome so much in life, and therefore savor as special what seems to others a more commonplace reality;  the ability to get and keep a job and all that that means for dignity and inclusion in society.  A perspective we can and should act on in the days and years ahead.


–This is part of REDF’s Accelerating Social Enterprise Growth blog series.