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The concept for One Spark was largely inspired by the work of Dr. Muhammad Yunus and the impact that his microlending programs (through the Grameen Bank) have had globally.  The documentary Bonsai People tells the story of how microlending to women living in extreme poverty in Indonesia created opportunities for entrepreneurism and large scale social change.  In Dr. Yunus' words, "My position has always been that all humans are born as entrepreneurs, but unfortunately most us never have the opportunity to unwrap that part of our lives".  Througout Bonsai People (and in the wake of Dr. Yunus' Nobel prize winning work), we see that when women seize entrepreneurial opportunities, amazing things happen: financial independence, personal empowerment, and the evolution of socio-economic frameworks.

Inspired by this framework, One Spark founder, Corrie Schneider, considered how a similar approach could address the critical need for housing and other issues of financial security faced by women experiencing violence in Canada.  Critically aware that wait times for affordable housing can be several years, One Spark believes that creating opportunities for women to generate income (or supplement current income) through self-employment opportunities is one viable solution.  The challenge, however, is that becoming a registered business owner has associated costs and processes that can be a deterrent, particularly when a woman is in crisis or facing issues of personal safety and security.  One Spark's founding and primary goal is to eliminate all barriers to women realizing self-employment income.

One Spark was born of the belief that if we commit to dismantling critical socio-economic barriers, there are untapped possibilities and opportunities for women to generate income. It may take years or generations for real systemic change to happen – and economic inequities to be addressed – but we can do something now. Our goal is to break down the barriers to violence-free lives by assisting every woman who would like to register her own business to do so. Through our community partnerships, we are beginning with a focus on working with women participating in a residential or outreach program housed by women's shelters. Our goal is three-fold:

 

  • To remove barriers that limit the capacity for women experiencing violence to generate income. As a registered business, women can immediately offer products, skills, and services that can generate additional revenue and/or supplement existing income. Entrepreneurship may afford women greater flexibility with their work hours as well as provide more manageable options for balancing work with any care-giving or other life responsibilities.

 

  • To help re-frame the relationship between women and entrepreneurship. Owning a business is often seen as a higher-risk venture undertaken by people with a financial safety net in place. By facilitating business registration and set-up, One Spark is removing barriers to becoming a business owner and promoting entrepreneurship as a viable and accessible option for any woman to generate/increase income. 

 

  • To empower women with a financial safety plan and a sense of ownership over their future. One Spark's philosophy does not impose expectations on the women we work with, but focuses on creating equitable access to self-employment, so that women might have a viable income source any time they may need or want to access it. Our goal is for women to feel empowered by their ownership of this aspect of their lives, irrespective of the level of entrepreneurship they choose to engage in, and to assist them in building skills that will empower them in their pursuit of lives free of violence.

 

Be A Maverick

#BeAMaverick

Maverick is a derivation of MAV: Men Against Violence. One Spark's MAVerick ...

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