In recent years, there have been a number of initiatives within the United States to resolve homelessness. That said, many of these programs have become obsolete in the wake of the recession of 2008. Many states had to reduce the amount of funding homeless shelters available due to a lack of government funding. This has resulted in many of them having to close their doors.
The shortage of homeless shelters and rehabilitation programs that often came with them, helps to perpetuate more homeless people on the street resorting to crimes and drug use. Within the State of California, homelessness continues to be an issue that is difficult to combat. Many individuals who are homeless end up losing contact with their family and friends, which makes it difficult to get themselves back on track.
It is quite rare to hear of an individual that has become homeless making the successful transition to entrepreneur. For this reason, organizations such as EHC LifeBuilders and the Small Business Development Center in Silicon Valley were formed to help individuals who were homeless to have a second chance at success through entrepreneurship. One individual that these organization helped was Bernard Groves.
Early Years for Bernard Groves
Bernard Groves had a very difficult upbringing given that he lost his younger brother in a house fire at age 5, his older brother in a car accident, his mother, which was followed by the incarceration of his brother in 2000. These series of tragedies weighed on him; however, it was when he was laid off from his job at a warehouse, lost his girlfriend of 13 years, and was unable to get visitation with his three children that he began to have a downward spiral. The result was him becoming homeless for 13 months.
How He Reached His Dream of Being an Entrepreneur
When Groves was homeless he only had the clothes that he was wearing and a backpack that contained his innovations for designing diapers and paper products. At times, he would go several days without food. Even during those more difficult times, he did not give up on his dream of becoming an entrepreneur with his design ideas.
As he met different individuals on the streets, he would converse with them to see what shelters they knew about so that he would be able to leave the streets and not be homeless. After 13 months of being homeless, he was able to find the shelter to EHC LifeBuilders and then later, the Small Business Development Center in Silicon Valley. These organizations were instrumental to allowing Groves to hear the words he needed to hear in order to allow him to strive for his success.
Upon reviewing his sketches, the counselor, Chris Schwafel, at the center gave Groves the encouragement he needed to further pursue his goals. Groves also met his business partner, Robert “R.J.” Faison in the computer lab by offering anyone who wanted to make $100,000 to meet him in the hall. The combination of Faison’s background in manufacturing and Groves’ design methods allowed them to create a business model that their pastor, Tony Grason, decided to invest in. This investment led to their products being able to appeal to a wide range of clients, which consequently made their company Baby Brat Inc. officially registered.
His Company’s Success Today
At first Baby Brat Inc. was not very lucrative, but it was not long until both Groves and Faison were no longer homeless. Since their company’s humble beginnings, they have been able to attract a wide range of clients to be interest in their sanitary paper products, industrial and personal service paper products, and their clothing lines for all ages. Some of their first customers were Guixens Food Group for Bath Tissue and Pitco Inc. Cash & Carry. In subsequent years, their operation has gone beyond the United States to include business dealings in Argentina, Liberia, Malaysia, Niger, and the Philippines. The success that Faison and Groves has experienced is incredible due to the fact that many odds were against them.
Success stories such as Groves are important to learn from because they teach us the value of organizations that support underrepresented factions of a country’s population. Had Groves not received the encouragement he needed, it is possible that he would have been homeless and never realized his potential as a successful entrepreneur. Groves’ story is a testament that organizations the help homeless rehabilitation can be successful if they are provided with the proper funding. It will be fantastic to see what Groves will do in the long term with his company and how he will continue to make a positive difference in the world around him due to his appreciation of how much he has achieved.