Scaling Barriers to Success: Grant Writing for Change
For Margaret Stephens, MBA ’23, grasping fundamental business concepts is just one aspect of her studies. “Even in a quantitative analysis class at Santa Clara University, your professor will challenge you to think of how these concepts apply to social issues,” she explains. When Stephens learned through Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship that Kenya-based social enterprise LivelyHoods was looking for marketing and fundraising support, she jumped at the chance.
Miller Center, which has accelerated more than 1,200 social enterprises around the world, uses business-based techniques to develop innovative solutions that fight poverty and address urgent social and environmental issues. For example, access to clean-burning cooking fuel is a major global environmental health concern. More than 3 billion people cook using open fires and, each year, close to 4 million die from illnesses attributable to household air pollution resulting from this style of food preparation.
LivelyHoods—a Miller Center social enterprise partner—trains impoverished women and youth in Kenya to sell environmentally beneficial products like clean cook-stoves and solar goods. Yet, for many promising social enterprises, fundraising can pose one of the highest barriers to success. LivelyHoods co-founder and Executive Director Tania Laden initially asked Stephens to develop content for their website and a holiday fundraising campaign. In addition, Margaret offered to learn grant writing and helped produce and edit LivelyHoods’ 2020 annual report.
Due to the pandemic, Stephens and Laden have never met face-to-face but still managed to achieve impressive results. Stephens’ first foray into grant writing was especially fruitful, netting approximately $34,000 for LivelyHoods to date. Working with LivelyHoods was a great way to engage in personally meaningful work while broadening her skill set. And, for LivelyHoods, they now have a valuable trove of high quality, customized content to help accelerate their success and impact.
“Tania’s dedication to the LivelyHoods’ mission is inspiring—it will be exciting to see them expand further into Kenya and possibly beyond,” Stephens says. “While LivelyHoods looks forward to new business opportunities, I’m already anticipating my next chance to work with Miller Center.”