I Am Waters Foundation

Today is 09.27.2016

No Excuses! The Homeless Entrepreneur | Philadelphia , Pennsylvania | Huffington Post

It was the first week of April, 2012 and I was in Philadelphia getting prepared for the next stop of my “Less Talk…More Action” Empowerment Tour, which would be held in Philly the following week. After a long day of meetings with community partners, I stopped at my bank to take out cash from the ATM. It just so happened there was a mini rally to help the homeless happening immediately in front of my bank. Having a soft spot for the homeless, I stopped to talk to the coordinator of the rally to learn about the initiative and tell her why I was in Philly; I was actually hoping we might be able to support each other. Eavesdropping on our conversation was a homeless man, Jason Mercado, who after I had concluded my conversation with the coordinator, began to tell me about his story — I was sold immediately!

Jason Mercado is homeless and currently lives in a homeless shelter with over 40 others. He is one of the many tragedies of this hard economy who has entered into the realm of the impoverished. However, “down” he may be, but “out” he certainly isn’t. On that day Jason told me about the business he had started — “Just Cookies.”

So here I am on a random weeknight talking to a homeless man about some business he has created. I must admit to being skeptical because I have heard just about every story under the sun. People hear I appear on CNN and suddenly people think I am the Pope where they confess every fleeting business they have ever had with the hope that I will turn it from a far-fetched notion into the next Google. However, then he started to tell me about his plan and execution:

  • He partnered with a local community-based organization which allowed him to use their kitchen for free to make cookies and baking goods.
  • He took a few free business courses through local community organizations to learn the basics of business and applied those principals to his business.
  • He assembled a small team of volunteers from his community to help him make, produce, and market his business in return for a future paid position if the business takes off.
  • He continued to increase and tap into his network to raise the limited, but still much needed, $100 to $200 to purchase the products and start operations.
  • He printed some free business cards with a custom made logo design which was donated and he handed me one on the spot.

He was a walking, living example of one of the primary principles I teach:

All people were born with the same three things — the mind, the body, and the earth underneath your feet. If you look around you right now, nothing around you didn’t come from one of those three things. If you are sitting on a chair, that chair originally started as a vision in someone’s mind. That person then used his body as a tool to manipulate materials which came from the earth and form the chair. No matter how little resources you think you have, you always have what you need to create success as long as you have access to your mind, your body, the earth, and a healthy helping of faith to make all things work together for the greater good!