This is the second “Living the Dream Story” which shares stories of ‘ordinary’ people following and living their passion.
I thank Celia Boyd for sharing some of her story with me as a tool for inspiring others to live their dream.
As the Co-Founder of She Investments, Celia left Melbourne in late-2014 and is currently living and working in Cambodia with her partner James. Through the choices she has made Celia’s is living both her passions and her values while delivering a unique and much-needed business service for women in Cambodia.
This week I spoke with Celia to hear more of her story and the amazing pilot program they are planning (and have now started) in Cambodia as a result of their very successful Crowd Funding campaign.
In March Celia and her partner James launched their Crowd Funding campaign through Start Some Good. Their Goal was to raise $15,000 with a tipping point of $7,000 – such is the success of their campaign, they reached their tipping point on the first day.
Crowd funding is the perfect example of people investing in the “WHY” of individuals and their business plans.
In 2013 I was very grateful for the 94 people who invested in Soles4Souls Australia and our Crowd Funding campaign. Ninety four wonderful people who connected with WHY.
Want to know more about “WHY”? If you haven’t seen it, make sure you watch the TED Talk: Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action (aka: people don’t buy what you do, they buy “WHY” you do it).
As at today there is just four days available for people to invest in women through the She Investments pilot program and ensure the final $s are achieved to cover all the expenses involved in running a 12-month pilot program in Cambodia. They are so almost there!
This pilot program is a business incubator for women entrepreneurs in Cambodia to support them in creating social and economic impact by providing support structures and business incubator programs to help women entrepreneurs scale their micro businesses to profitable and sustainable small–medium enterprises (SMEs).
The business model of She Investments is innovative in its nature with nothing of its kind currently in Cambodia.
Read startsomegood.com/sheinvestments for full pilot details.
I asked Celia 9 questions about her journey and about the success of the Crowd Funding campaign. I hope you enjoy the story.
What has been your journey from school to now?
I am 28 now. I went straight to uni from school because I thought it was “expected”, and I did a bachelor of Communications.
At the time I thought I wanted to work in film and tv and before I finished my degree I was working at Channel 10.
Eventually realised I hated working in tv.
I wasn’t passionate about it at all!
During this time I also did a volunteer trip for a couple months in the Philippines with Australian Volunteers International and shortly afterwards went to Kenya with my partner James, volunteering with World Youth International.
When I returned to Australia I kept doing similar trips to places like India and Kenya, and eventually trained as a Team Leader with World Youth.
I went back to UNI to do my Masters in Community and International Development and continued to travel and volunteer to ‘get it out of my system’. I also worked with Oaktree Foundation working as the PNG Country Director. It was terrifying but massive for my self-confidence and professional portfolio.
After my Masters I secured a six month project management position in Kenya with World Youth International, helping them to create a plan and implementation of their community health project.
Following Kenya I was home in Melbourne and unemployed for 3 or 4 months before being offered a job with World Youth International managing their projects in Kenya.
In early 2013 the idea for She Investments started to grow.
In the past I thought all I wanted was a stable job, but what I realised while balancing working for WYI, doing the incubator programs and growing She Investments, was that I loved the flexibility. I discovered a lifestyle I didn’t know I would love.
I was working independently. Autonomously. Making my own decisions.
How long have you been working on She Investments?
It has been 2 years since initial research and planning began. I did two training programs last year at the same time.
I did the Young Social Pioneers 12 month program for people aged 18-30 and the Incubator Program by the School of Social Entrepreneurs for 9 months.
It’s a good thing to invest in yourself.
What have been your biggest learnings on your journey so far?
- If you believe in something, people will believe in you. I was surprised by how many people backed us from initially having an idea to moving to Cambodia.
- Do your research. Our business model is completely different from 1 or 2 years ago. We have learnt so much.
- Doing a pilot is so important – I never realised how important it is.
What’s your BIG WHY?
It changes every year!
It used to more focused on social justice: “These things are happening in the world and if you see something that is unacceptable, then you have to refuse to accept it”.
Over the past couple of years I’ve graduated to a much more focused WHY, which is more personal.
With She Investments I am not only working on a project that will help people out of poverty but it is the most focused and deepest impact / difference I think can be made which is also in line with my passion and values.
I care deeply about the injustice of poverty, however my personal passion and WHY is specifically focused on the eradication of gender inequality, as I personally believe that this is the root of so much poverty and injustice.
What have been some of your biggest obstacles?
Money! I am very lucky to be able to live remotely so I can still earn an income, but that only covers the basics.We had to invest so much of ourselves and our own moneyIn making this decision it’s been a bit of a battle financially. Doing the crowd funding is the only thing we can do to make our pilot possible.
Big Decisions: After money it was making the decision to do it. It took us six months to actually make the decision. It was such a big risk and we had a lot of sacrifices we had to make.Making the decision for James to sell his Physio business, the only asset he had, and to give up that career and secure future to risk everything and move overseas.We needed the self-confidence and willingness to take the risk.
Why do you think your crowd funding has been so successful?
- Choosing the right platform. Start Some Good offers good support and has the highest success rate of any of the crowd funding sites. It also offers the urgency of the tipping point but the benefit of keeping the funds after the tipping point.
- Planning before what we needed to do in the build-up and during the campaign
- Understanding what the indicators are of a good campaign
- Making sure we started really strong
How did you fund your dream?
Running our crowdfunding campaign and working part-time in paid jobs.
What is your biggest goal?
I want She to be a really awesome, innovative and inspiring business that is not just self-sustaining BUT thriving and growing.
I want it to be scalable. We have so many things we want to do under the She banner. One day I want it to be a bigger banner. Not just in Cambodia but globally.
Not reliant on fundraising and volunteers, but profitable and sustainable.
I want it to be a really good example that can make awesome social impact in an innovative way.
What is a normal week for you now?
I work two days per week for World Youth International managing their projects in Kenya which I do from a co-working space in Cambodia.
The other three days I work on She Investments from another co-working space. I am constantly going out for meetings and meeting and interviewing participants.
We also travel to Siem Reap every month for programs.
During my Skype interview with Celia this week three very important messages came through about the value of living your dream and following your passions:
“I am happier than I have been in such a long time.”
“If you have something you are so happy to get out of bed and do every day, you should do that.”
“I have never put so much of myself into anything. I love going to work every day.”
To join me and invest in Celia and She Investments pilot program in Cambodia visit: http://startsomegood.com/sheinvestments
Love and Light,