For the last several days, Josh, Claire and I have been working on our consultancy project with the LNS Foundation’s livelihoods program. This program is still in the development stage, and we were tasked with the developing a social enterprise model that would fulfill the needs of the foundation, the program’s future participants and the market at large.
We began our process by clarifying the goals of the Foundation by conducting interviews with key staff members. Next, we did a site visit to gather preliminary data at the night homeless shelter that would be the source of many of the participants in the future livelihoods program. After this visit, we realized that we would have to gather much more information about the homeless population, and designed a market research questionnaire and returned with Mirza, a Foundation staff member, as an interpreter. Armed with 2 boxes of sweets as an ice-breaker, we conducted one-on-one interviews and gathered data including where individuals were from, education levels and literacy rates, skill sets, current work situations, income levels and levels of interest in participating in a future livelihoods program.
The more we spoke with people and listened to their stories, perspectives and research, the more we realized how dynamic the situation is. There are an infinite number of ways that the issues surrounding livelihoods and the homeless could be approached, and it feels as though we could remain in the research stage for many months and still unsatisfied with the quantity of our data.
From here, we are going to focus on matching the key strengths and assets of the LSN Foundation with the needs of the target population to try to find the opportunities for greatest success.