“How many times have you donated money towards a cause like reducing infant mortality? How many times do you buy a cup of coffee? For a lot of people, that can be as often as once a day!”
This was one of the conversations my sister/business partner and I had as we were gearing up to launch our most visible business venture, Bottoms Up Coffee Co-Op that opened its doors in July 2016. But, our journey began about a year before that when we incorporated AVANZA Business Solutions, a socially conscious marketing & technology solutions firm. It was then that we decided we were going to make a big impact in our community and in the world of social entrepreneurship, as we knew it.
We decided to team up and join forces to create an agency that could be a catalyst for social change and community development. That was what AVANZA was created for and what gave way to allow us to purchase a 5,000 sq. ft. lot with a 100-year-old post office on it in Franklinton and give birth to our second joint venture- Bottoms Up Coffee Co-Op. We knew that it would be great for our agency to have a highly visible office space, and then we asked ourselves, “why not share our space with our community and other start-ups?” That’s how we landed on our business model of “coffee and coworking for social change”. We went on to open a public coffee shop on one side of the building and private coworking space to share our offices with 5+ other social enterprises, nonprofits and entrepreneurs in the back half.
Virginia had been working in Franklinton and the West Side as a Community Health Worker for the past 5 years and had created incredible partnerships in the neighborhood. I had worked as community development officer for a corporate bank for 7 years previously. We both took a big interest in the amazing revitalization taking place in the neighborhood as well as the opportunity to do good by donating to area non-profits working with families to reduce the staggeringly high infant mortality rate in the area.
We are so excited by all that we have been able to accomplish in the past 2 years with very little money, a lot of hard work, ingenuity, the support of the community, family, friends and local and federal government grants/loans. We hope to be able to share our story with many others to motivate, encourage and help foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem in our community that is accessible to all!