Starting your own business is an act of faith. It is far too much work and sacrifice to be the practical option. Starting a social enterprise is an act of passion. You’re compelled by forces outside of your control: compassion, hope, frustration at the world around you.
Becoming a social entrepreneur when you have a baby (Allie), or a toddler and are pregnant with another (Samar), is an act of pure crazy. Yet that is where Allie and I find ourselves on this journey to create Baby Hero - filled with faith, passion and a healthy dose of craziness.
As new entrepreneurs, this has been a massive learning curve for us. We’ve had to learn the ropes of the apparel business, inventory management, small business accounting, marketing, design, social media, NGO management and all the other nooks and crannies of running your own operation, which in our case involves both a for-profit business and a non-profit foundation. We’ve done this while managing the needs of our children as we both remain their primary caretakers and we’ve done it for a very simple reason – we deeply believe in the mission of Baby Hero and we feel it is incumbent on us to contribute as positively to the world as we can.
Samar & Allie on December 6, 2012 - The day we incorporated
We have chosen to focus on the health of mothers and infants for a number of reasons. Good health determines so much of what we are able to accomplish in life. In developing countries the healthcare of women and children is rarely a priority, and as a result it is often massively underfunded. Yet these very factors play a significant role in determining both the economic and social success of any society. Every $1 spent on maternal and child health generates an estimated $20 in benefits for the broader community. Tackling health issues in these vulnerable populations makes good sense from every perspective. Literally, “health is wealth”.
Those are the practical reasons behind our funding decision, but there are more personal ones as well. Allie and I have naturally been deeply affected by becoming mothers’ ourselves, and we cannot hear about devastatingly high rates of maternal and infant mortality without gasping for breath and saying a silent prayer. We can imagine the terror a family feels when faced with a sick child and no money to heal him. We can see how the heartbreak and anger of holding an infant, weak from a completely preventable illness, can break mothers and fathers and whole communities. The loss of a mother is equally devastating. A child left motherless is 10 times more likely to die before reaching adolescence. I can’t imagine my daughters unable to find comfort in my arms, losing those precious, infinite moments I guide them, indulge them, laugh with them, look into their eyes and say I understand them.
Protecting our mothers and babies goes to the core of our humanity and the fact that most of these deaths are easily preventable with low cost medical interventions means there is something we can do to make a real difference. At Baby Hero we want to make sure every mother is given an opportunity to raise her children and every child has the healthy start they deserve and need to lead a happy, productive life.
We have chosen a model that we believe will allow us to maintain and grow a sustainable business - a company able to survive and thrive so that it can have the greatest possible impact. We welcome your input and suggestions as we grow and we hope that you will trust that for us, helping mothers and babies will always be the core of our company, the engine that drives us each day of our working lives.
See Baby Hero Begins – Part 2 for more about us from Allie