Empowering Local Entrepreneurs

“The Entrepreneurship Expo” is a design project I’ve worked on that’s intent was to provide community support and exposure for local current and aspiring entrepreneurs. The organizers believed that the lack of these two assets were hindering small businesses from fully thriving. This led to the birth of this project.

Of the Design Justice principles, the most present in the project would be:

1. We use design to sustain, heal, and empower our communities, as well as to seek liberation from exploitative and oppressive systems.

  • The purpose of this project was to empower those within our community. We wanted to provide entrepreneurs with a platform to engage, inform, and share stories/support with one another.

3. We prioritize design’s impact on the community over the intentions of the designer.

  • It was clearly understood and communicated by all organizers that this project was not about us, ourselves, but about the impact on the community and those we sought to influence. The community was always first throughout the design process.

In addition, the principles that could have been more engaged include:

2. We center the voices of those who are directly impacted by the outcomes of the design process.

  • After many discussions of participatory design in this course, I’ve realized that the people most impacted by this project weren’t necessarily present throughout the entire design process. We planned and organized with a limited number of stakeholders, which caused voices to be unheard. Having consistent discussions and involvement from all stakeholders would have led to a more impactful outcome.

10. Before seeking new design solutions, we look for what is already working at the community level. We honor and uplift traditional, indigenous, and local knowledge and practices.

  • Our first step should have been to examine and discuss what is already working in the community. Instead, we went directly toward what needed to be fixed in regards to this project. I believe this stemmed from the goal of shifting away from what has been traditionally done, to introduce something new. However, taking time to look for what is already working would have been a beautiful thing to celebrate and honor. It would also be great in showing that things may not be as bad as they seem.