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Meet Katie and Mollie – the team behind our programs

August 4, 2014

It is a small team of dedicated staff behind the scenes here at Social Traders.

Meet Katie (right) and Mollie (left), Program Managers of The Crunch and THRIVE programs.

Here they share a few quirky facts, shed some light onto parts of their programs and insights about some the enterprises they facilitate through the process.

The Crunch Program Manager, Katie Wyatt
Katie joined Social Traders in October 2013 as The Crunch Program Manager – in time for Round 4 of The Crunch. She has more than 10 years of experience in HR and organisation development from a variety of industries, including not-for-profit, government, banking and postal.

THRIVE Program Manager, Mollie Gore
Mollie joined the Social Traders team in September 2013 to design and implement Social Traders’ enterprise support program for existing enterprises: THRIVE. Mollie brings experience from the management consultancy and sports industries having previously worked for A.T. Kearney and the Melbourne Cricket Club.

What is the craziest question an enterprise has ever asked you?

  • Katie – “Do you really think I should do this?” Lots of our enterprises question themselves along the way, but you never know if you never try. There’s no success story that didn’t start with some doubt.
  • Mollie – ‘Where do you get your hair done?’ There is a THRIVE enterprise that operates a full-service hair salon in Albert Park, Avidity. They were doing some customer research.

What quality is essential in a social entrepreneur / social enterprise?

  • Katie – Persistence. The journey of a start-up is more roller coaster than merry-go-round. The process of opening up your idea to criticism is not for the faint-hearted but if you really believe your idea has legs and potential, you have to have the persistence to keep moving forward, refining and constantly improving your idea. Having said this, being open to feedback and willing to evolve your concept is just as critical!
  • Mollie – Willingness to work hard. The THRIVE program is one where you get out what you put in. Social Traders do not do the work for the enterprises, but rather coach them to do the work for themselves. In some ways, the social enterprise sector is more complicated than traditional business because of the added component of social purpose. A social enterprise that has worked hard enough to be trading for several years should be no stranger to hard work though.

If “social enterprise” was an animal – what would it be?

  • Katie – a fox. You need to be cunning, survive on a lean diet, hunt for answers and be ready to growl sometimes to defend your position.
  • Mollie – ummm, what Katie said! 🙂

Who drinks more coffee – the Social Traders staff or the social enterprises in your program?

  • Katie – I think the enterprises drink more coffee but I suspect that the Social Traders staff are the coffee snobs (we are a bit blessed to work in a space surrounded by great Melbourne coffee providores).
  • Mollie – Social enterprises especially those who operate cafes like UCAN in Williamstown and ZEST in Moe. I drink tea and I can personally vouch for the quality of the tea at those cafes!

What is your favourite model of social enterprise?

  • Katie – I don’t have a favourite, my favourite part is the fascinating conversation that follows when enterprises realise how hard it is to operate more than one social enterprise model – it’s the first moment early in the Crunch where their idea gets a sharp spotlight of strategic focus.
  • Mollie – I like the profit generation model. The conversation around how having a social purpose to maximize profit does not mean you are selling your soul is often a realisation for enterprises. This model actually means that by making as much money as possible you are having the largest impact you can.

Related: Learn more about social enterprise models on the Social Traders website.

What is your favourite aspect of your program?

  • Katie – I love the sense of a team that is created with each year’s cohort of enterprises. There is no one who can understand the experience you are going through better than your fellow journey participants. The amazing and unexpected relationships and partnering and learning opportunities that are sparked merely by us bringing this group of people together into a room to work on their enterprises together is pure magic.
  • Mollie – I love going on the road to visit the social enterprises in the THRIVE program. I’m always excited to see their ‘space’ and I love how proud they are to show it off. I also really like working with the youth-led enterprises. The young people in THRIVE inspire me more every time I talk to them. They are so impressive!

What do enterprises hate doing, but benefit most from, as a result of your program?

  • Katie – Testing the idea. Everyone comes into the Crunch with an idea that has been lived with in the shade for a long time. Suddenly we push them out into the sunlight and demand for evidence to support their business model decisions. But it’s so great to see enterprises embrace this part of the process – like Kung Food (an employment-generating enterprise for young women with an intellectual disability) who sat at sports games on the weekend noting down every item purchased at the canteen. Or Project Pomegranate who are looking to optimise their op shop retail network – Rob from Pomegranate sat at shopping centre entrances (like a bouncer on the door of a nightclub) counting the numbers of customers walking past potential shop sites. It’s gritty and doesn’t feel all that scientific – but it gives us (and investors) the comfort that you know your business inside out.
  • Mollie – THRIVE enterprises absolutely hate the Improvement Planning phase of the program. It is a stage where we essentially ask them to press pause on any potential actions they may take as a result of their organisation diagnostic. Instead, we coach THRIVE enterprises to gather and analyse data to make informed decisions about their next steps towards improvement. We are hoping this makes the enterprises less reactive to issues in the organisation and more prepared to make informed decisions backed up by data.

What is one piece of advice that you give to all budding social enterprises

  • Katie – Examine your idea. Examine yourself. Are you both up for it? Then do The Crunch! 🙂
  • Mollie – Be clear on your social purpose and the need for your enterprise in the community. Confusion of your social purpose or an undemonstrated need are difficult to overcome.

Meet Katie and Mollie!
There are opportunities coming soon for enthusiastic and committed teams in New South Wales interested in being part of The Crunch program for 2015!

Keep up to date with these and all announcements from Social Traders by signing up for our regular eBulletin on the right-hand side of our homepage at www.socialtraders.com.au

Not yet ready to join a program yet?
See the range of tools and resources Social Traders offer, attend a workshop, study tour or event, orcontact our team.

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