Building Communities Half-Way Around the World and Nice to Meet You

Or perhaps the other way around.... Before I get started, I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Alexis and I'll be writing occasionally on social enterprise issues for the eHomemakers blog. I've been working/volunteering in digital media and marketing for the past five years and I also have experience in harm reduction health outreach. I'm looking forward to sharing my perspective from the United States while learning more about the challenges and joys of doing business in Southeast Asia.

I've recently been exploring the eHomemakers website and corresponding with its founder. In case you're not familiar with eHomemakers (although considering you're reading this blog, you must be somewhat familiar), they are based out of Kuala Lumpur and they provide networking, support, and an online community to women who work from home. What I love about their philosophy is their focus on empowering women economically while understanding the cultural and personal obligations that may limit a woman's opportunities outside of the home.

While in South Africa this past fall, I encountered other models of job creation and community support for women, including Monkeybiz. When we visited the store in Bo-Kaap (and admittedly bought a few too many adorable beaded penguins), they told us about how the women create their beaded animals at home based on their own designs and how Monkeybiz provides health and additional support services to the women and their families.

Monkeybiz is successful because they've created a niche for themselves in the marketplace. Not only is the product cool (step one), the mission resonates with their target audience. Business models that allow individual entrepreneurship to thrive while responding to changing market tastes seem like the best candidates for long-term success, and in the case of organizations like Monkeybiz and eHomemakers, long-term social impact.

(Part of this post originally appeared here. It is reposted with permission.)


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