Her Company Helps Nonprofits Enact Positive Social Change
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This post is part of a series of branded posts sponsored by Verizon. The focus of the series — part of a paid partnership between Verizon and CircleAround — is on women small business owners, and how they are navigating the complexities and challenges of contemporary business, from the pandemic to the economy.
So many nonprofits are trying to enact positive social change, but don’t have the proper resources to make their mark. That’s where Girl Scout alumni Shannon Bhatia comes in. Bhatia is the co-founder of Innovate With, a Los Angeles-based company that “matches motivated professionals with local nonprofits for collaborative, human-centered problem-solving activations.” According to the website, Innovative With provides nonprofits with “programs that spur creative solutions and leverage pro-bono expertise to bring ideas to life.”
We caught up with Bhatia to learn more about her business, and why she believes her mission is so important.
CA: What inspired you to create Innovate With?
SB: I started Innovate With when I realized that my solopreneur project needed more support in the way of a female business partner from the social sector. I had been running a workplace culture agency called Perky Work, where I helped businesses better meet the needs of their employees through feedback and action steps, but I wanted to incorporate more social good into the premise.
CA: What experiences from your past influenced your big move?
SB: My first job at TOMS Shoes made my interest in social enterprise grow, and understanding the kinds of people it drew to work there led me down a road of creating the best kinds of places for them to achieve great things. I learned so much about how consumers have power over asserting sustainable business practices with their dollars, and when they make the request to see behind the curtain, the needle moves.
I love TOMS for being a pioneer in this space, and for providing me with the opportunity to launch an exciting career from the experience. I'm motivated by seeing my peers find a similar path from their time spent there.
CA: How has Innovate With changed over the past year?
SB: During the pandemic, gaining any traction for this kind of work is a victory. We're focused right now on bringing our entire offering into a digital landscape, something that we did in the past year only when necessary and never at scale. I'd like to create and foster a sense of community in the work that we do so people feel a sense of ownership, kinship, and ongoing commitment to servicing nonprofits and other entities that exist to serve the community.
CA: How are you ensuring Innovate With keeps driving change?
SB: I'm always on the lookout for new and disruptive organizations with a focus on social impact because I think that's the only reliable way we're going to drive change. I'm watching Tala, which is focused on providing loans to underserved populations. I'm a longtime fan of Parks Project, started by three former co-workers of mine from TOMS. I'm really enjoying all of the inspirational content provided to me by Creative Reaction Lab, and we hope to embody a lot of similar values and offerings. I could go on and on.
CA: What’s the most gratifying aspect of your work?
SB: At the end of the day, my most gratifying moments come from understanding the needs of people, and rising to meet the challenge of working to make that a priority.
CA: As we continue into the new year, what are you most excited about?
SB: The dialogue has been shifting as a response to what consumers want to see and how employees are also such a huge part of that process. I wanted to push that further with our organization and include the interests of employees at these companies who are driven by purpose and the greater good. That's what we hope to achieve — meeting the requests of motivated, skilled employees by providing them the opportunities to innovate within the social sector and keep their day jobs. Everyone wins, theoretically.