I was an Executive Vice President for a publicly traded corporation until 2014, focused on selling financial technology and related services. In Jan 2011 my family and I lost a dear, young family friend. This event prompted the founding of Memory Trees, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. At that time, I did not know that it would become a future vocation, but I am happy that it did.
What motivates people… money, freedom, happiness, success, etc., or something else? I had enjoyed good business fortune. It was time to focus on ‘giving back’ to those less fortunate. I started doing this fulltime in 2015.
Hi Maud, thank you for your comments and feedback. Most of the work we do strives to disrupt a culture of dependency on social benefits, i.e. poverty at a macro level. Our grassroots efforts related to planting, nurturing and harvesting of food is dedicated to ongoing education of inner-city kids, with another macro objective... "better access to health."
Our micro loan program includes 'very small' to small business funding. Informally, we teach people to turn crafts into cash (sewing, crocheting, jewelry-making and basic food prep). For example, we can buy a pineapple at WalMart for $3. We can fill 4-5 small containers and sell fresh pineapple chunks for $3 per container, i.e. a ROI of $12-15 on a $3 investment. And... we can plant the pineapple top, growing more over time (at almost $0 cost). Equipment required includes a cutting board(s), knives, access to clean running water, and pineapples; maybe $50-100 all in. People see their wares at farmers and arts & crafts markets, and similar. In theory, anything they sell that represents a profitable return on their invested time, qualifies as success?!
But, we also make larger investments, e.g. providing startup cash to help launch a landscaping business. In this latter example, we used a micro loan of only $10,000 to create a business that employs 2 people semi-permanently (they still have jobs, but do the landscaping jobs after hours and on weekends). As they land larger landscaping projects, they hire part-time employees in their community at $8/hour, creating more opportunities for others, and business growth. This year we have helped three business to launch successfully; a nonprofit, a BBQ company and the landscaping one used as an example above.
At Memory Trees, we grow food. Whatever suits our target audience (taste, climate, etc.), and subject to seasonality.
Thank you for your interest in our work, and for taking the time to comment!