Why I Built My Social Impact Business In My Hometown
Our founder, Janean Mann, wrote an article on LinkedIn about why she choose El Paso to start Junes. Link to the article on LinkedIn.
All too often people think they need to move to another part of the country (or world) to make an impact. We divorce social impact from our day-to-day, making it something that we have to set aside time for, or travel dramatic distances to get to. Social impact is not synonymous with volunteer, and from where I’m sitting there is a lot of work we need to do on a local level to change the way our world works.
Conscious capitalism is the way of the future, the entrepreneurs that will be the most successful are those who commit to building organizations that give back to communities. In tandem with this cultural shift, more consumers have an elevated consciousness about the products they buy. The result being a slow shift in collective buying power from self-centered consumers to people who care about the impact of their purchases. This is fantastic news. What’s even better? People don’t need to move to a major city to build an impact company, they can do so from their own backyard.
I’m from El Paso, Texas, a city with over 800,000 thousand residents bordering Mexico. Just across the border is Ciudad Juárez, a larger city with over 2 million residents. Though El Paso is most certainly not a ‘small town’, it is a little behind from the rest of the country in terms of impact driven work culture. Though we have a budding environmental community, due to our proximity to the border there is significant cultural impact on El Paso’s business culture. Everything from gender roles, family values, and how people engage at work skews more traditional. As a result, El Paso didn’t feel like the right place to build my career, I needed to move to a major city.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, it’s part of what drove me to move to New York. Though I’ve always had a desire to create, over the years I’ve had a growing desire to build a company that directly impacts people in a positive way. It’s no secret that US coastal cities are becoming harder places for young entrepreneurs to build their companies. Though New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have major appeal, with the rising cost of living, combined with the trials and tribulations of starting a business, budding entrepreneurs need to consider relocating to other cities for a chance to grow their organizations as well as have a positive influence in their hometowns. I experienced this directly when I decided to move back from New York to El Paso.
The day I visited Juárez with friends for the first time since the drug war had decelerated was a Christmas vacation in 2013. Visiting a fabric store, I came up with the idea for a product but as I walked around the eerily empty streets, I was struck by all the fliers of missing women. A gruesome repercussion of the drug war was femicide. A chaotic, lawless city, deepened the machismo culture which sanctioned women's kidnapping, abuse and murder of hundreds of women. I thought, “Why is this still happening and what are we doing about it?”. That’s when I knew I wanted to build my company around a purpose, a cause, a call-for-action to try to help the women of Juárez.
This decision wasn’t dominated by a desire to leave New York, but part of a strategic plan to build a company I believe in, have a positive influence in my hometown, and adding to the El Paso and Juárez local economies. I would not have been able to bring my company, Junes, where it is today with the financial pressures of New York.
My point is, you don’t need to build your company in a major city to grow a successful impact driven organization. In my experience, you’ll create more financial stability and facilitate change in your local community.
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