My long-term interest in volunteer work has been woven through a career in entertainment. For the past seven years I have been coordinating projects and producing special events, first for a live-entertainment company that did shows at theme parks and then for a Broadway producer. I began to see that each new production is essentially a new business venture that involves assembling a team, creating a product, marketing and branding the product, and receiving customer feedback, among a myriad of other details.

When my time with the Broadway producer came to a close, I found myself helping my brother launch a new travel related start-up. It was a very informative and invigorating experience. As I contemplated what to do next, I was also spending a lot of time reflecting on my most meaningful life experiences. Memories of my time volunteering in Guatemala and Tanzania kept surfacing and I felt the travel/volunteer itch coming on again.

A couple of years ago, I went to Tanzania to teach drama classes at a school and unexpectedly ran into an opportunity to help a young man start his own business. It was remarkable to see how someone with little formal schooling and few career prospects could plan and launch his own business with a little encouragement, support and funding. Now he is serving his community with a much needed maize grinding mill, supporting himself, and saving money to invest in his business and hire other employees. Furthermore, he is a respected community member who can inspire others.

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Recently, I’ve been reading more about social entrepreneurship and soon realized that it could be a great way to combine my interests in small business endeavors and non-profit initiatives.

With _SocialStarters, I’m looking forward to learning more about how I can help support people launching their own businesses that will benefit their communities and beyond. I’m also greatly looking forward to learning from my fellow participants as well as experiencing life in a buzzing Indian metropolis.