Bottoms Up: The Making of 2 Social Entrepreneurs

It all started about 2.5 years ago while on a business trip to sunny Florida with my younger sister, Virginia. She had agreed to take time off her own job to come along and help me care for my 6-month old baby while I worked for an ad agency that required me to travel often. Sisters are truly the best friends anyone could ask for - at least this is the case for me and my sisters! We decided to stay the weekend, past my work assignment to enjoy the weather and take a much-needed break from our busy lives. We ended up having some very deep conversations about the meaning of life and our purpose in this world. That was all it took - one weekend getaway, one conversation to know that we shared the same heart. We were meant to leave a legacy far greater than anything we could imagine at that time. We both had that “fire in our belly”! We knew that we had to do something more than we were currently doing with our lives. We didn’t know exactly what this would look like yet, but we knew we could not conform to our hectic yet monotonous lives! We had to continue pressing onward and talked more about how we were going to put our unique skill sets to use while starting a company from the ground up. But we didn’t want to start just any company, we wanted to start a company that would truly make a difference in the community. We continued these conversations and countless brainstorming sessions, and then AVANZA Business Solutions was born.

I took the leap and quit my job first to invest more time and energy to this new business while caring for my growing infant. My sister and I decided that if we bottled our energy and our skills into one package, we were equipped to help other small businesses succeed. So, AVANZA was created to serve as a consultancy, marketing and technology solutions company with a heart for social enterprise. However, we wanted to find a way to interact with other small business owners while also activating the collective buying power of our fellow millennials to lift up a community in need. About 6 months later, Bottoms Up Coffee Co-Op was born! We invested in rehabbing a 100-year-old post office on W. Broad to serve as a modern day public coffee shop and private coworking space, out of which we could operate AVANZA. We chose the Franklinton neighborhood because we saw a promising urban revitalization taking place albeit overshadowed by a staggeringly high infant mortality rate. As soon as we saw the building and its location, we knew how much potential there was! Thankfully, the community has also fallen in love with our mission to save babies. 10% of proceeds from every cup of coffee purchased are donated to area non-profits that work to provide support to low-income pregnant moms. Our coworkers engage in workforce development activities to lift our neighbors up. We also house a community health worker that works directly with families in need. Just 6 months into our coffee/coworking venture, we are so in love with our business model and the impact we are having in the community! But, it doesn’t stop with us. It starts with us and continues with you, the person reading this blog, because there is still a lot of need out there. So, the next time you have a wild idea and a deep desire to change the world, don’t stop until you breathe it to life! We hope to see you around the shop and hear all about your big idea.

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed, that’s all who ever have.” –Margaret Meade

Bottoms up,

Victoria & Virginia 

A Message From This Year's Director!

Hello APTE Community!

It’s great to be kicking off the ninth year of Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship as the conversations and initiatives surrounding social entrepreneurship become even stronger. Movements in Columbus, Ohio and around the world give reason for optimism and celebration of the ways in which business and innovation intersect with solutions to social injustices.

As this year’s Director, my goal is to facilitate connections and efforts that go beyond a one-day event. This team’s capability is limitless with the unique majors, passions, and stories that join around the core desire of being a part of something bigger than ourselves. APTE Organizers, past, present, and future, have become my role models, best friends, and source of hope. I can’t wait for you to get to know them better!

So far we have been contacting speakers, securing funding, and developing strategic plans. We would love to connect, and we’ll be in touch from now on with a monthly newsletter and social media updates. Be on the lookout for ways to join us! Coming up this month we have a student-oriented event that will serve as the catalyst for a new international service project.

 It’s a privilege to be a part of the community, and we don’t take it lightly. Thank you for your support and interest. We’ll be in touch!

-Erin Halleran