At The Difference Incubator, we are all about connecting with and supporting mission-led entrepreneurs and businesses that are working to build a better future.
And to do this we are so lucky to have a passionate and talented group of individuals who make up TDi, who work together day in and day out to help move forward the movement of better business.
We think they are pretty great – and know you will too.
Here’s one of our fantastic staffers Meagan Williams, the Head of Programs at TDi, sharing with us what makes her tick, why she LOVES her job and social enterprise, and what her role as head of the Two Feet Accelerator is all about.
First up, what do you do at TDi?
My role is technically Programs Lead, but luckily I get to work in all areas of the business at TDi. Being a programs lead means that I coordinate our accelerator programs, both our public Two Feet accelerator and partner-led accelerators, and also our workshops and masterclasses. While our programs work with organisations at many different stages, our workshops and masterclasses focus more on earlier stage organisations to support them to determine their business model, their mission and outcomes focus and build a community of like-minded people.
One of my biggest responsibilities is making sure we are delivering programs that are relevant, engaging and catalytic for social entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs, and that connect people and provide great opportunities to learn how you can both do good and make money.
Tell us a little bit about your background!
I am a born and bred Melbourne girl, but spent the majority of my 20’s living overseas. I completed a B.A in International Studies at RMIT in 2005 and through this course had some great opportunities to work overseas.
On top of some long backpacking trips, I did my internship at an international NGO in Amsterdam and was quite interested in the tourism/travel space – particularly around cross-cultural experiences and education. I then worked at Lonely Planet for a stint (which is no good for curing a travel bug!) and found myself teaching English in France for a year.
Moving back to Melbourne, I wanted to work more in the community, supporting people and organisations to realise their potential. I worked with Inspire9 to support the community of entrepreneurs co-working together and better understanding the startup and tech space. I then spent a number of years working with Global Leadership Foundation on a number of business projects, all the while developing my facilitation and human development experience thanks to the mentorship of the amazing co-founders and associates.
I also started up The Welcome Dinner Project in Victoria and coordinated over 40 welcome dinners for newcomers to Australia, growing an amazing group of volunteers and brokering partnerships and support within the community.
What is your vision for the world?
I am a real dreamer – I think we have to dream and think big and we owe it to the generations that come after us to do so. My vision for the world is one where we celebrate and appreciate each other’s differences, where wounds of the past have been healed and we take care of our ecosystem and work in harmony with one another.
To bring that back to the day to day, my vision is to find new ways of working in harmony with each other and the earth, to focus on sustainability (both environmental and social) and to work alongside the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our communities, and to do this through innovative models and through the development and empowerment of people.
There is so much potential for blended-value enterprises to not only make real change but to show others that it’s possible to not have to sacrifice ‘good’ or ‘making money’ – it’s very hard but creating social and environmental change through business is possible and is happening right now.
Why are you passionate about social enterprise?
I suppose social enterprise is really capturing people’s imaginations right now and those who perhaps have experienced the excesses of corporations or constraints of not for profits see social enterprise as a real middle ground.
I think it’s also the social entrepreneurs that I love – especially those who have experienced something first hand and want to do something about it. My hat goes off to intrapreneurs who are trying, through a corporation or not for profit, to create initiatives and businesses that have a social enterprise or blended-value approach. Often those that we see at TDi have not only real passion but also a pragmatic approach which I love.
One thing I do worry about in this blended-value space is that we will start to take our focus off of the people, places or challenges we are responding too, and focus too much on the social enterprise or the founder instead. I want the beneficiary or the cause we are working to address to be front and centre and to focus more on the impact and the change we are working to create.
‘If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform one million realities’ – Maya Angelou
What is the Two Feet Accelerator all about, and what is your favourite thing about the program?
The Two Feet Accelerator is a three-month program where inspiring mission-led enterprises and entrepreneurs take part in a series of intensive workshops designed to empower them to gain clarity on their mission, refine their business model, equip their leadership team and build the networks they need to succeed.
This program has been designed to help mission-led entrepreneurs and enterprises overcome the key challenges that often block them from achieving their vision and mission, whether it be that they are not sure what business model is best for what they are wanting to achieve, or simply they aren’t sure where to focus their efforts and resources, Two Feet has been designed to help them uncover and overcome these roadblocks.
Hmm, my favourite thing about Two Feet would have to be the people and businesses I get to work with!
However, in regards to the program itself, it’s been an incredibly powerful experience, supporting and empowering people to really think about why and how they are creating change, what their sustainable model might look like, and to work with them to sustainably achieve their vision.
Also, the people who facilitate the program and come to speak are some of the best in the business and I learn something new from them every time.
What is your vision for Two Feet 2018?
My vision for Two Feet 2018 is to accelerate and catalyse impact with a broader group of enterprises and be better able to tell this story. I am also working hard to refine our accelerator approach based on past learnings and working in different contexts to ensure deeper impact with the organisations we work alongside with.
What is your advice to people interested in the Two Feet Accelerator 2018?
My advice would be to really look at where you are with your vision and your mission-led enterprise, and ask the hard questions. Are you really achieving the impact that you want to see in the world? Are your actions aligned with your mission? Are you creating change in a sustainable way? Do you have people around you who provide honest feedback and who have the right skills to successfully implement this vision? If you aren’t sure about any of these questions, or simply you don’t know what to do next, I’d encourage you to reach out and have a chat with us and we can give you an honest appraisal of whether or not Two Feet is the right fit for you.
Interested in Two Feet and want to learn more about how this program can help you create and implement a sustainable social enterprise? Learn more about Two Feet here.
Applications for the Melbourne 2018 cohort close 18 February 2018. If you need a helping hand to take part in the program, check out the ING Dreamstarter Scholarship.