The BOOM Model for Social Transformation

MISSION

The BOOM is on a Mission to reduce self-destructive behaviors among marginalized teens in-crisis, and propel them into futures of peace and prosperity. The project places special emphasis on opportunities for teen girls.

PROBLEM

Marginalized youths in economically-disadvantaged regions across America, and around the world, face limited economic opportunities. They are at-risk for violent behavior, criminal activity, and dangerous drugs.  

"Young folks in one of the richest cities in the world are surrounded by this whole lifestyle that they don't have access to. They don't have parents at home, or food on the table. In this place, there are no on-ramps. There's no way for you to get there."  

- Jessica Nowlan, Executive Director, The Freedom Center, San Francisco

SOLUTION

Cottage Industry

The BOOM's solution is to seed and facilitate a new cottage industry in struggling communities, based on handcrafted electronic products.

What is “cottage industry”?

"Cottage industry is a production system that relies on producing goods by craftspersons at home, instead of large factories. This was the methodology used to produce most goods throughout much of human history, up until the Industrial Revolution. Most cottage industries have long since been replaced by industrialization over a century ago. Nonetheless, cottage industries are still thriving in many areas of the globe, particularly in producing unique, one-off goods. Even in industrialized economies, there is a growing consumer demand for handmade artisan goods, such as artwork, that are still usually produced by cottage industries."

- Nicole Sivens, Financial Analyst

“Cottage industries provide the greatest opportunity for making every home a factory.”

- PaulPeter M. Makokha, Masinde Muliro University, Kenya

Benefits

Household and small-scale industries:

Economic Empowerment

Cottage industry can provide economic independence and self-sufficiency. It frees the self-employed craftsperson from a competitive, limited job-market, enabling them to be their own boss, and to work with dignity.

”Small scale enterprises reduce income inequality, and allow people to take control of their lives and bring earnings into their community.”

- Mithila Rajagopal, PhD, The Borgen Project

Competitive Advantages

Micro-enterprises can effectively compete with large-scale industry.

"Cottage industries can respond flexibly under difficult and changing conditions because they do not depend heavily on infrastructure, and their typically low levels of manufacturing technology allow product lines and inputs to be changed easily and at relatively low cost. Even when large-scale industries dominate, many cottage industries retain competitive advantage by serving dispersed local markets, providing differentiated products with low-scale economies for niche markets."

-Peggy Ama Fening, PhD, Kwame Nkrumah University, Ghana

Women

Small industries provide an ample and valuable opportunity for women to achieve autonomy, and participate in the public sphere.

"Female owned traditional enterprises have a long history in many parts of the world such as West Africa and Pakistan."

-Taqadus Bashir, PhD, Bahria University, Pakistan 

Economic Growth

Cottage industry helps grow the economy as a whole. It generates increased economic activity in regions that might otherwise be depressed, and can plant seeds which grow into larger enterprises and industries.

“The catalytic role of cottage businesses has been displayed in many countries of the world such as Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Zambia, and India."

- Peggy Ama Fening, PhD, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Ghana

THE BOOM’s ROLE

Initiatives like The BOOM can play a vital role in the successful growth of cottage industry in marginalized communities. In particular, the BOOM is creating:

"Cottage industries can accomplish so much given the right support and infrastructure. The scope for involvement of community service organizations in working towards this goal is large. Improved marketing skills, vocational training and access to raw materials can help small domestic businesses broaden their customer and product base.

An exciting example of this is solar systems as a cottage industry. Dr. Richard Komp, Director of Maine Solar Energy Association, has been building solar cottage industries across South America and Africa. He teaches people how to build solar collector arrays from factory second photovoltaic cells that can be used for things like solar cookers and thermal systems.”

- Mithila Rajagopal, PhD, The Borgen Project

THE BOOM’s IMPLEMENTATION

A Real-World Product

The BOOM is an apprenticeship which plants engineering and entrepreneurial seeds, from which a new cottage industry in handcrafted electronics can grow. The BOOM’s goal is to transform marginalized youths into homegrown engineers, entrepreneurs, and tradespeople, by teaching youth apprentices how to build and market a real electronic product. The device is a bluetooth speaker.

Skill Diversity

Entrepreneurial success demands a broad range of skills and knowledge. BOOM youth apprentices are introduced to mechanical design, electronics design, supply-chain, soldering, metalworking, and woodworking. This develops hands-on skills, problem-solving, self-control, and a profound sense of accomplishment. Then apprentices will market and sell their boomboxes, through the BOOM’s marketing and distribution process.

“I'm on probation, and it's like, court-mandated. Luckily we came across Johny, yeah, we well-connected now. Hopefully we can follow-up on this, and start making our own products in the future, and make money.”

- Jonathan M, on probation, 15 yrs old, after a successful circuit-test

Reusable Components

Our core circuit-modules, mechanical components, and design-solutions can be re-used by our graduates in their own future custom devices, removing typical hardware-design pain-points, and lowering the barriers to grassroots product-development.

Bootstrapping

Boutique electronics requires very low startup costs. It requires high creativity. We don't teach debt. Historically, sham debt has been used as a tactic to “legally” imprison and enslave black people in America.

Incubator

Our graduates will be eligible to develop their own product-ideas through our youth incubator.

 

HISTORY

Since 2011, the BOOM has provided hands-on introductory workshops in hand-tools, electronics, bicycle repair, motorcycle repair, and more. The BOOM's first boombox cohort was a three-year pilot program involving 40 at-risk teens in San Francisco’s Bayview Hunters Point. Our next cohort will be hundreds of at-risk teens across the Bay Area.

REFERENCES