“Clearly I was the only one that thought this was a good idea,” said founder and CEO of Acumen Fund Jacqueline Novogratz on her journey to Africa where she left a promising career to help establish Rwanda’s first microfinance bank.
“My boss told me I was making the worst career decision of my life. My friends thought I had lost my mind.”
For Jacquie Johnston-Lynch it was the idea of establishing an alcohol-free bar in Liverpool that earned her unwanted laughter, for Liverpool is home to a wide selection of pubs. But as a mother whose brother was killed by a drunk driver and whose son became an alcoholic, creating an environment to support recovering alcoholics was the logic thing to do.
“When I first told people I had this idea for an exciting bar in Liverpool with no booze, but with food, live music and entertainment, people laughed at me. Liverpool is near the top of the league for drinking,” she says.
With the help of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, who gave her resources, mentorship, and assistance with putting together a business plan and application for funding, her idea became a reality and she opened The Brink in September 2011.
For a social enterprise such as The Brink to reach its full potential requires support from business and government. According to Deloitte, help with growth strategies, investment preparation, and marketing are some vital components.
Roughly 75% of The Brink’s employees are made up of people in recovery, including her son PJ who has been five years sober. The bar provides training and job opportunities for people in recovery and profits go towards treatment opportunities through Action on Addiction.
More than a bar, space is available to host seminars, lectures, workshops, and arts and crafts fairs.
Under a year of opening The Brink, Jacquie has been named a finalist for the Daily Post Mersey Woman of the Year Awards 2012. Her bar is receiving overwhelming support and welcomed a visit from the Duchess of Cambridge.
Perhaps this is a sign that unconventional ideas coupled with proper support can indeed result in the right mix towards social improvement.
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