The Age of Independents: Sonja Skvarla, A Social Ignition

The Age of Independents: Sonja Skvarla, A Social Ignition

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Five years ago, Sonja Skvarla set her sights on a goal: How could she use her business skills to make an impact on the problem of mass incarceration? After several years of hard work researching the problem and possible solutions, A Social Ignition was born.

Since that time, Sonja and a small group of volunteers have run a 6-week entrepreneurship program with men incarcerated Portland Oregon's Columbia River Correctional facility. The men who participate in the program not only learn about what it takes to start a business, they learn what it takes to re-start their lives. In fact, graduates of the program are elligible to sign-up for a post-release program called The Long Haul.

A Social Ignition started as a non-profit 501c3. However, Sonja found she was spending too much time on fundraising so she made the decision to make it a project of her consulting business.

We're just scratching the surface when it comes to the unlimited potential of small business entrepreneurship to solve big societal problems. In order to get there, we need to learn the lessons of projects like A Social Ignition, which have an impact that goes well beyond what can be measured on a balance sheet. Only when we recognize that unaccounted value will be be able to develop funding and support models that get us closer to realizing this vast untapped potential.


Michael Megalli

Michael Megalli

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