Tis of the Season of Thanks and Toilets
How might we ensure that our work works for us?
This is a central question posed by Me Suite Founder, Donna Peters in her executive coaching services and podcast. I had the opportunity to be educated, supported and coached by Donna during the sprint that was my One-Year MBA at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in the client-facing IMPACT class.
Following the completion of my One-Year MBA, I had the incredible opportunity to reflect the innovation and operational strategy learnings as well social impact business model development skills that I learned while in school into the next generation of my nonprofit organization Wish for WASH Thinks over the summer of 2022. This time was made possible by the financial and mentorship resources provided by the Goizueta’s Business and Society Institute as well as the Goizueta Class of 2003, both of which supported and funded me as a Summer Social Impact and Nonprofit Scholar.
This funding – earmarked to help subsidize my income as a nonprofit founder and leader immediately following my MBA graduation – gave me the space to trial and unlock new leadership and revenue generation approaches and frameworks for our 501c3 organization with the goal of positioning us for longer term sustainability and scale. We started off as strictly toilet designers while I was an undergraduate student in 2014 and have continued to build our scope, impact and mandate as we work in concert with organizations across the world to help achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG)) 6.2 by 2030. More than toilets alone, the vision of the Wish for WASH (W4W) Collective – of which Wish for WASH Thinks is the operating nonprofit arm – is to disrupt the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector by creating a more diverse pipeline of people, products, and programs in the WASH sector by bringing innovation to sanitation and menstruation.
Following my MBA graduation, I had the chance to double down on this vision and ideate on how to continue making it sustainable in terms of strategic impact and financing.
Some specific outputs from the summer includes:
- An iteration of our organizational product offerings and pricing strategy
- An expanded view of our impact metrics, which now better reflects how our work connects to various Sustainable Development Goal Targets and indicators (for example we now recognize that our spans SDG 3,4 and 5 as well 6)
- A website refresh to better communicate our mission, vision and value proposition and a growing leadership team (which is planned to be launched and highlighted in 2023)
- A deeper, more nuanced working relationship with our existing B2B clients as well as more internal professional development and growth opportunities for our team members
- Conducting successful in-person and high impact events such as a design jam with an AP Environmental class at Atlanta Girls School and hosting a water-filtration innovation booth at the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta’s STEM Expo (which reached ~600 girls across the state!)
- And being accepted to SXSW Edu 2023 for our innovative Design Jam workshop offering, which is a unique equity and empathy centered design thinking experience rooted in water, sanitation and hygiene education that we have been building, piloting and refining as a team for five years!
While the deliverables and learnings from this summer’s work is still being finalized, iterated and approved by the Wish for WASH Thinks board of directors and leadership team, having both the time and financial resources to help catalyze this in-depth future-casting and planning was priceless. This time and space has been rooted in me collating my inspiration, diving into business design ideation, and now we are in a phase of some implementation and iteration with our stakeholders; all of this has been in an effort to make my personal work and the work of my organization actually work for our people (such as our members, clients, learners and stakeholders) and the planet (via amplifying and proliferating environmental stewardship and ESG innovation).
We are still very much on our journey, but are off to a great start – especially when it comes to keeping our social impact values central to our way of working. I am grateful for the continued support of the Goizueta community and look forward to the future of Wish for WASH Thinks as we continue to grow, learn, and build at the intersection of innovation and inclusion because #EverybodyPoops and #MenstruationMatters. Happy World Toilet Week!