The Research of Social Entrepreneurship with Dr Rasheda L Weaver - Ep 26

This episode of the Social Enterprise Alliance Podcast aired on Tuesday, August 8th. This episode can be found on Apple Podcast and Spotify.

0:00:00.0 David: Hello everyone. Welcome to the Social Enterprise Alliance podcast. Today's special guest is Dr. Rasheda Weaver. She is a social entrepreneurship author, researcher and coach. She has conducted large scale empirical studies on the social economic and legal activities of social enterprises in the US and is the founder of Weaver's Social Enterprise Directory. Earlier this year, she joined the Global African descent Social Entrepreneurship Network sponsored by the Biden Harris administration and she recently published Social Entrepreneurship. A Practical Introduction, which is a book based on her social enterprise bootcamp and a five-step roadmap to developing a sustainable social enterprise. Welcome Rasheda.

0:01:14.6 Lauren: Hello everyone and welcome to the Social Enterprise Alliance podcast. Today we have Dr. Rasheda L. Weaver on with us.

0:01:21.4 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: Hi Lauren. How's it going?

0:01:23.3 Lauren: Going well how are you?

0:01:25.7 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: Well, I'm so happy to be here.

0:01:27.1 Lauren: Oh we're so happy to have you here. Thanks so much for joining us today. So we just shared a little bit about your ready set launch Social Enterprise Bootcamp and then the accompanying book Social Entrepreneurship: A Practical Introduction. So we'd love to start just by first hearing your story and how your story has led you to write this book and start this bootcamp along with the other work that you're doing.

0:01:54.2 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: It's a really intriguing story because it just keeps building upon itself. It really all started when I was growing up in the Bronx New York. So my parents are Jamaican and Cuban immigrants. And I'm growing up in the Bronx New York and there was a lot of poverty there and it just bothered me. And I went to modeling school from the ages of 7-9. And so I went to modeling school in Midtown Manhattan in Hotel Pennsylvania. And so I was exposed to a very wealthy affluent lifestyle but then always constantly having to go back home to the Bronx where it was just crazy. It was like a war zone sometimes. I just remember thinking at a really young age like people don't have to live like this. Like this is not necessarily a choice but it's not mandatory for all people to be living like this because all people don't.

0:02:42.1 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: When I was about 14 years old, my dad helped me pick a high school close to Hotel Pennsylvania actually [laughter] and it was two blocks away from the Empire State Building and I was like I'm gonna study business. I wanna be an entrepreneur but I wanna do something good for my community back in the Bronx. But nobody could really understand what I was trying to say. I was saying I wanna start a community center that does research on all the reasons why there's poverty in the Bronx and like develop services on what we could like do to alleviate it. People kept telling me like to go into like the nonprofit world and I was like, I don't know I don't really know about that. I still wanna start a business because I was thinking like growing up in the Bronx being poor. I was like I wanna make money.

0:03:22.1 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: So [laughter] like honestly I was thinking that too. I was like I wanna help people but I wanna make money too. I started studying psychology and learning about like social interventions and it really just started unfolding. It was like I was learning about business but at the same time, I'm learning about human development and human need. And then I went to NYU for graduate school and I get to NYU and I tell everybody what I wanna do like this community center idea and I called it Dream Haven at the time and then they were like oh that's social entrepreneurship. So right here like that's like divine timing and intervention. And I was like…

0:03:55.7 Lauren: So good.

0:03:56.3 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: Yeah. And then I went to a bunch of workshops about social entrepreneurship and now I'm excited and I'm like okay there's a whole field out there.

0:04:03.3 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: But then I noticed there was a lot of case studies and so I said I don't know exactly how to design the social enterprise because all the information that I can find on it, it's just giving me case studies of what other people have done. Like just being the kind of person I am, I wanted to be prepared. And so when I went into my PhD program I started studying social entrepreneurship and working with a social entrepreneur who started five schools. And so I was able to learn about her experience and then I decided to conduct the first large scale study of social enterprises in the United States. And I studied the social economic and legal activities and really it's just one thing led after another I did that published that and just started getting academic positions and doing more research. And I don't know if you want me to tell you what I'm doing now [laughter]

0:04:49.1 Lauren: Absolutely. Yes, please do.

0:04:51.0 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: Yeah. So I've been working for five years in academia and as a assistant professor of entrepreneurship and innovation. And I've done really amazing work designing classes on social entrepreneurship designing research programs publishing lots of articles. And then last year, I decided to take a leap of faith and start Weaver social enterprise directory and run it full time. So it started out in 2018 but I was just using it to track social enterprises in the US. It was a website with a tracker and you could download the database, that was the original idea and then the pandemic hits and then social entrepreneurs started reaching out to me and said, "Okay, we like your tracker but can you actually train us so we can learn how to make [laughter] money?" And and I was like, "Oh good idea." And so I started writing my book but then the book took a year to write and a year to publish.

0:05:38.8 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: And so I said okay let me develop the bootcamp just to get their needs met immediately and it just took off. Right? So it's a five-day bootcamp. I call it a five-stop roadmap to sustainable social entrepreneurship where I train social entrepreneurs to design a vision that meets their own reality as well. Not just doing good for other people but doing good for yourself. Because I'm a big believer that people that do good work are oftentimes I call them like martyrs. They're sacrificing and sacrificing and if we want them to be sustainable we actually have to make sure their needs are met as well because you can't really help people unless you help yourself first.

0:06:16.8 David: Yeah, it is fascinating just how life intersects and all these things continue to shape and morph who we are. And you eventually find yourself providing service to somebody else. So you keep on going down that path. I'm really curious, especially as it sounds like the work began in this directory format, then moving into how do you help social enterprises? How do you even define social enterprise? The definition seems like it's always a little bit squishy.

0:06:43.9 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: Yeah.

0:06:43.9 David: Right. And who did you highlight and how did you find them?

0:06:47.6 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: Yeah. So people were finding me. I'm really good at using LinkedIn and Instagram [laughter] I have, like, I just post what I do and then they would find me and ask me to do a talk. I'm a big believer in that every single human being has a gift that they have to offer this world, it's like a god-given gift. We all have it and we have to figure out what it is and use it to walk in our purpose. And one of my gifts is just speaking and inspiring people, not on purpose. It just happens though, [laughter] Because that's what your gift is. It's a thing you do easiest and you usually, that's why I usually don't know what it is because you just do it. So I would just speak at places, go to conferences. I was literally speaking at a conference and next thing you know, the mayor of grand Rapids, Michigan asked me to come speak for 400 social entrepreneurs. And so they would just find me and all I do is I show up. And how I define social entrepreneurship is it's an organization that generates revenue and has a social mission in mind, but there's that revenue generating component to it. And I know some people, like when the revenue is reinvested into the organization, I say social enterprises could be for-profit, nonprofit, or a combination of both.

0:07:57.6 David: Yeah, that's really good. Kudos to you for being found by so many people, right. That's a lot of work in and of itself. But the simplicity of the definition is really great. How big was the directory at the height or where is it now?

0:08:13.1 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: So it's over 1000 social enterprises. And so now I've actually, my original goal with it was to first track social enterprises in the US and then hopefully have government be inspired by it somehow and they can take it over. And so what I've done now is I've removed the actual directory and now it's directing you to all things social entrepreneurship. So the book, workbooks, workshops, training programs, it's really taken on a whole different life of its own. And it's almost like a path that's being revealed to me. And I did the bootcamp and the book, and next thing you know the social entrepreneurs started asking for coaching because life I say life be life in. [laughter] And so you.

0:08:53.5 Lauren: I love can.

0:08:53.8 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: So you can train people how to be social entrepreneurs, but then life happens. Right. They have spouses, they have kids. Pandemics happen. People are just afraid. They're in their own heads. One big thing that's come outta my coaching sessions is spirit care. So you're running a social organization and you have this social mission. You're working with people and they're your beneficiaries and you wanna do well, but you also have things going on in your own life that you need to attend to. So how do you manage your spirit? And so literally my coaching sessions are the fastest growing component of Weaver Social Enterprise directory. And I didn't expect that at all. I didn't even plan for it. It just came out of once again, seeing a need and people feeling comfortable enough to come to me to tell me that there's that need and then just delivering on it.

0:09:38.6 Lauren: Yeah. That's awesome. I mean, something we've talked a lot about, just in various episodes of this podcast, we had a few episodes dedicated to wellness because as you talked about earlier, social entrepreneurs oftentimes kind of have a little bit of a martyr mentality and just don't always know how to take care of themselves or how to do things in a way that's like sustainable in not just a physical or a financial way, but also just, the spirit side. And all of those components are obviously affecting you. They're affecting your work. So that's super, super awesome. Really valuable.

0:10:11.5 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: Yeah.

0:10:12.6 Lauren: So I'm curious in all of your research, what are some of the surprises that you've come across or some of the discoveries that you've made that you were either intrigued by or that you feel are just important or valuable for the sector to know?

0:10:28.8 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: Ooh, this is a good question. [laughter] I was really surprised by the component of self-care, like the wellness aspect of social entrepreneurship. So one thing I discovered was that, so I'm very empathetic. So I can see the need, I can feel the need. And when you come to me asking, tell me about your needs, and I wanna do something about it because I can feel it [laughter] And I want the pain to go away. [laughter] And so what I've discovered is that many social entrepreneurs are the same way. And like, I read this in my research, I learned this in the research years ago, but until I started practicing this, I didn't fully understand like what that meant. I read that most social entrepreneurs have been affected by the issues that they are combating or they've witnessed someone else go through a particular social problem.

0:11:14.6 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: And so when you actually working with those social entrepreneurs, you realize, okay, a lot of them are just empathetic people that instead of being burdened by the social problem, they decided, no, I'm gonna do something about this. They became a hero. And my job is to then take that empathy and show them you can run a sustainable organization. Like I was talking to a social entrepreneur last week, they said she was running her organization for like 13 years, but she's like breaking even. And I'm like, that's insane. But it's her empathy, right? She doesn't know how to put it in check and balance it. And so from all the coaching that I've done this year, I started writing a second book called A 90 Day Wellness Reset. It's under review. So pray that it gets published, it'll get published [laughter] And.

0:11:57.7 Lauren: Yes.

0:11:58.4 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: Yeah. And I'm like teaching social entrepreneurs how to just manage that piece, like drinking water. It's like simple things, but when you care so much about helping people, you forget about helping yourself. And you cannot do that because you're a leader. We need you. We need great people doing great things in the world. And so you have to take care of yourself. And I had to really drum it into their heads. I literally had to tell another coaching client, you need a babysitter. Not just because you just need the time off. Like you literally need a break if you wanna really run your organization. And she's doing a great job making lots of great money, but she can do even better if she just took care of herself a little more by giving herself that treat of a babysitter. [laughter]

0:12:38.4 David: This is like the third time we've connected and every time we do, I'm like, yep. I mean, I just love everything that you're discovering. And the wellness podcast that we've episode, I think is our number one downloaded episode so far.

0:12:50.6 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: Wow.

0:12:50.7 David: So you're definitely hitting on something that I think many social enterprises and those in the sector really need to hear What is the impact that you're hoping to bring to the sector? It sounds like in part, maybe through discovery is that self-care component.

0:13:08.0 Lauren: Yeah.

0:13:08.2 David: At least with the second book, how do you really empower the sector through that awareness? Are there other things within the sector that you really want to try to, see happen through your work?

0:13:19.8 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: Yes. I want to change social entrepreneur perspectives on what it means to be a social organization. And going back to not being a martyr, many social entrepreneurs under charge and undervalue their own work and going back to self care, you need to make money to survive and you need to not be stressed and you have to sometimes increase your prices. And sometimes you also have to offer ways of creating passive income for yourself. Like I have many, I have one amazing social entrepreneur right now who just refuses to put out a workshop and she's doing like therapy, but there's only so many hours of therapy that you can do. And if you're not going to raise your prices, there are some people that don't wanna go to therapy, but they will sit through a one-hour workshop and they will purchase several of them and you can make them like $60.

0:14:05.9 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: All you do is promote it and let them income, I call it 24/7/365 income. But she's afraid of putting herself out there, like the little visual aspect of it all, like being in a workshop. And I'm like, there's so many different ways that you can do this and I really wanna change the mindset about that. Like, you are worthy of making good money even if you're doing socially conscious work. And I also feel that people will value what you're doing more. And I feel like you actually help the whole sector and showing that you don't actually have to suffer in order to do social good. That's the reason I didn't want to start a nonprofit because the people that I saw start a nonprofit, they were struggling. They were like these older ladies walking and limping and just like struggling with their grocery. Like, you know, I as a 16 year old, 17 year old, 18 year old, when you're thinking about your career, that's just not inspirational to you.

0:14:55.6 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: And so instead, other things that are less socially beneficial, like other activities, especially when you're growing up in an environment like the Bronx, even literally just being someone's girlfriend looks more appealing than being the lady that's helping people. We don't often think about those realities that young people are facing and that we're all facing 'cause everybody wants a nice house and a nice car and the ability to travel and, I wanna show social entrepreneurs that you can have all of that. It will be a process to get it, but you have to first start by taking care of yourself and defining a vision for your life that is actually fulfilling for you personally, socially, and economically fulfilling.

0:15:33.7 Lauren: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. It's such a timely conversation too 'cause I think, you know, we've, experienced in a lot of different ways just that, that kind of like nonprofit mentality and like you can run a nonprofit that still generates income and all these things, but it's becoming harder and harder, I think to be a sustained nonprofit organization just off of grants and donations. Obviously, there are some that are, you know, established in doing that. But I think with the amount of organizations that we have and the amount of funding that there is, you know, it's just not, people have to find those ways and find those paths to generate income.

0:16:13.2 Lauren: Whether you are a for-profit doing good or a nonprofit doing good. Like, it's super important. So I think it's, yeah, what you're doing is super timely in many ways. So that's really awesome. Well, this has been so fun to chat with you today and just hear about your story and the work that you're doing, we'd love to give you a chance to just share where people can connect with you, where they can find the book, the bootcamp, the directory, how they can access all that good stuff.

0:16:40.1 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: Thank You so much. This has been amazing. You can connect with me at That's my website. It has the book, it has the bootcamp. I have an online bootcamp that will be published next week available to anyone, anywhere. And I'm really trying to connect social entrepreneurs and working together and, you know, just sharing best practices and literally going through this process together. My goal is to see them thriving next year and like literally us to take a vacation 'cause we've done so well at our self-care and are making our money and also doing good that we can all just celebrate that. I'm also on Instagram, LinkedIn is my, just my name, Rasheda L. Weaver. And then my Instagram is Rasheda Weaver_PhD at Social enterprise directory too. I have a business page as well.

0:17:25.0 David: We'll definitely check out Rasheda and her work. And, yeah. Thanks again Rasheda for joining us today.

0:17:30.7 Dr. Rasheda Weaver: Thank you. David and Lauren. My pleasure.

0:17:33.0 Lauren: Thank you.