Written by Elena Chan,
Director of Community Development
How is success measured for a social enterprise like Adelante Thrift? Is it the growing dollars of revenue we generate? Is it the growing number of people we serve?
Adelante Thrift has been on a challenging mission for the past two and a half years to become a catalyst of change by generating revenue in an economically challenged community and, at the same time, by bringing long-term community transformation. Success is often evaluated in light of revenue, minimizing the importance of community impact. But this outlook doesn’t capture the whole mission of Adelante Thrift. It is liberating to understand that the store’s mission is not purely to generate revenue, but also to transform the community. One can hardly be prioritized above the other. After all, without revenue, long-term community transformation is not possible, and without community impact, profits are meaningless.
What makes Adelante Thrift’s mission for the community possible? Apart from sales performance, the store is successful in its mission when it’s nicely organized and clean. When staff, many of whom are just entering the workforce, acquire and develop job skills. When volunteers come and sacrifice their time for others. When customers find a good deal and a comfortable place to shop. When donors give generously. When partnerships with neighboring businesses and government deepen. This perspective of success renews our vision and allows us to recognize the transformation that has already begun in our community.