089, Alexandria Lafci, New Story | Disrupting Community Development through Story-Driven Crowdfunding
New Story is disrupting community development. They are doing that through a story-driven crowdfunding process for building homes. But, they’re not just building houses, they’re creating communities. And, in the process, they are changing the donor experience. To explain all of this, we’re joined today by Alexandria Lafci, a cofounder and the head of operations for New Story.
There’s so much to love about Alexandria and New Story. First, they are targeting communities one at a time. For example, they started in Leveque, Haiti where they moved 152 families from living under blue tarps, to living in lovely homes. And, by building that many homes, they were able to create a community.
I also love that Alexandria is the head of operations. If you think about it, after a social enterprise defines a problem, comes up with a solution, and funds the idea, the most important priority is execution. Alexandria plays a unique role in seeing to it that New Story disrupts community development.
Alexandria is familiar with the need for housing security. Her mother grew up in the foster home system.
As a Teach for America volunteer in a southeast Washington DC neighborhood, Alexandria could observe first-hand the impact that housing instability had on her students.
After Teach for America, Alexandria took a role in supply chain logistics for a company in Atlanta. This role taught her many of the skills that she uses today at New Story.
Alexandria met her cofounders while at a gathering of social entrepreneurs in October 2014. By November of 2014, they put together a minimally viable product (MVP) version of New Story, and by December they were bringing in thousands of donor dollars. By June of 2015, they were in a batch of startups at Y Combinator.
Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Alexandria Lafci
“Just this one thing, housing stability, having it had such far-reaching implications that many of us take for granted, and then not having it had all of these detrimental side effects.”
“All we did was we put the image of one family, we put up their story and we had the ability to take payments.”
“We started with wanting to help individual families, but when you build homes at a critical mass, you actually create entire communities.”
“We use local material and we use local labor.”
“Operations is an umbrella term for all of the components necessary to execute our vision in the physical realm.”
“What we are doing is creating sustainable communities, places where people want to live.”
“The biggest benefit of Y Combinator for us was, just having audacious goals.”
“In setting that huge goal, our entire mindset shifted.”
“We called it a 100 homes in 100 days campaign.”
“When you’re focused on growth almost exclusively, it really jam-packs a lot of lessons that would have taken us years to learn.”
“Sometimes the scariest part is starting.”
“Another thing that helped was speaking.”
“Find someone who shares that passion and who can do that with you.”
“Make sure the problem is not already being solved.”
Social Entrepreneurship Resources:
- New Story: https://www.newstorycharity.org
- Culture Shift Learning Academy waiting list: http://tonyloyd.com/assessment
Culture Shift Learning Academy
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Enrollment isn’t open yet, but you can join the waiting list with other changemakers. Just go to http://tonyloyd.com/assessment and enter your email address. As a thank you, I’ll send you the Social Entrepreneur Startup Readiness Assessment. This useful tool is designed to help you to determine where you are on your startup journey and to successfully focus your development efforts.