Kennesaw State University student Savannah Locke has set out to prove that a business can be both profitable and socially conscious through her start-up Hammocks for the Homeless.
Locke, a senior finance major in the Michael J. Coles College of Business, started Hammocks for the Homeless with the goal to support, comfort and improve the lives of homeless men and women of the Atlanta area by lifting them off the ground and enhancing their resources within the community.
“The idea came up a few years ago when I was talking to my sister,” said Locke. “It sat on the back burner for a little while and came up again last fall when I took Fundamentals of a Nonprofit.”
The class explored both the nonprofit world and concepts of social entrepreneurship, an aspect that sparked Locke’s enthusiasm. When she was given an assignment to build a nonprofit from the ground up, she knew exactly what she would do.
“The big assignment in that class was to build our own nonprofit,” said Locke. “I presented my idea for Hammocks for the Homeless to the class and built a team around it. We did well with it, and even presented it to a nonprofit “shark tank” panel.”
Spurred on by the enthusiasm she felt for Hammocks for the Homeless, Locke decided to continue with her business idea, and employ the help of the Kennesaw State University chapter of Enactus.
Now partnered with Enactus, Hammocks for the Homeless is currently in the early stages of development, and is focusing on building a business plan and strategy. Their current goals include setting up a website, finding a supplier of materials and attracting volunteers for program activities.
“One of the key aspects to our business is partnering with local shelters to make sure our hammocks get into the right hands,” said Locke. “There are over 5,000 unsheltered people a night in Georgia and we want to help change that.”
Locke is basing much of her business plan off the one-for-one model employed by companies like TOMS Shoes. Under this model, for each product a consumer buys, one will be donated to a person in need. She expects shelters to play a vital role is distributing the donated hammocks, while the business focuses on consumers.
Though the aim of Hammocks for the Homeless is to inspire social change, Locke is quick to point out that the numbers back up her business. Citing a Cone Marketing study that found 86% of consumers would prefer a brand associated with a charitable cause, she says the market for the one-for-one model is large.
“We are not looking to make millions in profit like a for profit company,” said Locke “But the market is there. We simply want to reinvest all revenue back into our mission.”