Veronika Scott’s social entrepreneurship idea was born of a class assignment where she was required to design a product to fill a social need. For five months, she worked with Detroit’s homeless community particularly with people at a local homeless shelter on a heat-trapping jacket; it was also designed to transform into waterproof self-heated sleeping bag. Even after the end of the semester, she continued to collaborate with the homeless community in creating other prototypes as well as in improving the design and quality of the heat-trapping jacket.
And thus was born The Empowerment Plan, a non-profit organization that hires and trains homeless women in becoming full-time seamstresses. The homeless women make the jackets, among other products, which are then given to homeless people free of charge.
The Empowerment Plan is unique in many ways. Its strategy highlights the crucial importance of empowering women with practical knowledge and skills, thus, helping them overcome poverty and regaining financial independence. Its approach has garnered for it several national and international recognitions that, in turn, has contributed to its success in gaining investors including Dan Gilbert, Sara Blakely, and Madonna, among others.
Scott, The Empowerment Plan’s founder and CEO, is also in charge of other several critical aspects of its operations. She oversees the design work, sustainability planning, and business development as well as its spokesperson. She also hopes to launch a more effective buy-one, give-one model (i.e., buy one jacket, give one jacket to a homeless person) as well as more for-profit products, which will ensure organizational sustainability.
For her part, Scott has been recognized with various awards. She is the youngest awardee of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation’s JFK New Frontier Award as well as an awardee of the IDSA: IDEA Gold Award from the Industrial Design Society of America.