Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve
Megaphone’s mission is to provide accessible economic opportunities and a voice to homeless and low-income people while building grassroots support to end poverty.
Our three primary goals:
1. Provide homeless and low-income people with sustainable, low-barrier opportunities for self-employment.
2. Provide opportunities homeless and low-income people to express their views, opinions & creative ideas through writing.
3. Achieve a self-sustaining economic model for the magazine & provide opportunities for growth.
Through Megaphone, marginalized people gain stability, a sense of pride, and financial self-sufficiency. Over the next 3 years, Megaphone plans to grow to 60 vendors and 6,000 copies per issue, providing vendors with a combined yearly income of $195,000 per year.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
Street papers are the largest social enterprise in the world. Megaphone provides support and assistance to homeless and low-income people in Vancouver and helps raise awareness about the reasons people live in poverty. It acts as a bridge between communities and can literally change people’s lives: both the vendor and the customer’s. Megaphone currently has between 30-35 vendors and a bi-weekly distribution of 2,500 copies per issue, putting nearly $70,000 in the pockets of those previously excluded from the labour market. Megaphone has provided sales training workshops to over 250 marginalized people. Megaphone provides the opportunity and support for vendors to stabilize their lives. Through Megaphone, vendors cite improved self-esteem, confidence in social situations, and a feeling of connection to society, as well as the opportunity to find adequate housing, address addiction and mental health issues, and find the confidence to reconnect with family and friends.
What is your projected impact over the next five years?
Having already grown to a circulation of 5,000 a month with 35 vendors, Megaphone projects it will follow in the footsteps of other street papers around the world and see its reach and impact grow. The street paper in Seattle, WA (Real Change), for example, has a weekly distribution of 20,000 copies and more than 300 vendors.
Over the next five years, Megaphone envisions its monthly circulation will hit 15,000 with more than 150 vendors. This will help put roughly $225,000 into the pockets of marginalized people a year.
By having an opportunity to earn an income, Megaphone expects to consistently help over 100 more homeless and low-income people raise their standard of living and be able to either move off the streets, away from addiction or simply stabilize their lives.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
One barrier to the project could be a lack of public awareness about the program. This makes it difficult for people on the street to understand what vendors are selling and why they should support them, and thus hindering Vendor sales.
Megaphone plans to address this barrier with a comprehensive communications strategy that includes a guerrilla marketing campaign (started in 2011 and called 'I Work Here'); by increasing Megaphone's profile in the media (ex: this past August a Megaphone vendor received extensive media attention for throwing out the first pitch at a Vancouver Canadians game); and by hiring a vendor coordinator to help vendors improve their sales techniques and increase their presence on the streets (Megaphone has begun to start that process).
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Increase the number of vendors to 40 to 45 and circulation to 6,000 a month (3,000 per issue).
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Increase the number of consistent vendors to 45 and circulation to 8,000 a month (4,000 per issue).