We all have big ideas. There are things that we want to do to positively influence others and make a difference in the world. When it is time to “take the leap”, however, we are often left a little overwhelmed with all the details that go into making our business or organisation thrive.

That’s where experts like Jessica Kinsey come in. Jessica is the founder of Prodigy and Co, a consulting company dedicated to helping impact-driven organisations build strategy behind their mission. She understands that most leaders are “big picture” dreamers and have the courage to start things, but sometimes need guidance on how to establish and grow their ventures.

In our interview, Jessica shares with us some basic fundamentals behind thinking through the structure of your organisation and how to move past times when you feel stuck.

Jessica, I am so excited to connect with you and share more of your story with our readers. To begin with, would you tell us why you started your business?

I started Prodigy & Co to help small businesses and nonprofits be more creative in their strategies for products, services, programs, marketing—pretty much everything. I’m a huge believer that we can’t solve problems or make a difference by doing the same thing we have always done, and I saw too many people just “rinse and repeat” the same old thing, or something someone else had done, hoping it would work, but not making progress.

What is the meaning (or backstory) behind your name “Prodigy & Co.”?

When you think of a prodigy, you think of a young kid who is exceptionally gifted but needs guidance and direction. That’s how I think of my clients. They excel at what they do. They have a heart and a passion for the work or the people or the craft, but they need guidance and direction. Most of them don’t have business backgrounds. They are the makers and doers who need help creating a sustainable organisation for their work.

You obviously have a passion for working with entrepreneurs and leaders who are “impact” and “mission” focused. Where did this desire to help these specific people come from?

There are a lot of big challenges we are facing today and I want to work with the people who are trying to make progress, trying to make a difference. Whether you are a for-profit or non-profit, if your goal is to make a positive impact on people’s lives, I want to help you do that. I also think that businesses and organisations that are built out of a passion to make an impact are more likely to last. Money is not enough to keep you going when things get tough. Money matters, a lot. You have to pay your bills and support your family. But when things get hard, and they absolutely will, most people can go get money elsewhere. They can go back to a “real job” and have stability and safety. Mission-driven people do the work because they can’t not do the work. That kind of passion is contagious and exciting.

Do you provide a variety of services, which one are you most excited about?

The work I enjoy most is helping non-profits bring a social enterprise aspect to their organisation. I see too many non-profits rely solely on donors and they are fundraising their entire budget each year. It wears them down. They are working hard enough to do good work in the community and make a difference. If I can help bring something to the organisation that can earn revenue so they can have a more sustainable, regular source of funding, that’s an incredible feeling. It can also be a real challenge to balance revenue generation with program impact and outcomes, and that’s a fun thing to take on.

What is the main difference between a non-profit and a social enterprise?

This is such a tough question to break down, because everyone has a different opinion. There’s the difference between a non-profit and for-profit which is based on tax status with the IRS, and what the goal is related to money. Are you putting it all back to the mission, or do you want to take earnings out for the owners?

More broadly speaking, the term social enterprise (to me) means an organisation that was founded based on a sense of mission and making a positive impact in the world, and all or most of their revenue comes from the creation and sale of a product or service. I believe that kind of organisation can be a for-profit or non-profit. Not everyone agrees, but I think for-profit businesses can exist for social good. That the owners can “do good and do well”, as it’s sometimes said. Some non-profits are social enterprises because they create a product or service that they sell. Some non-profits are 100% donation based—I don’t consider those social enterprise.

It’s about the combination of social and enterprise. You have to be mission-driven and focused on making a positive social change. The social part. And you have to be selling something. The enterprise part. I don’t think the tax status matters.

I would like to see more people start for-profit social enterprises. I believe there is this dichotomy in the way people think about doing good versus making money. That it is either/or. You either go into business and make a lot of money and then give it to charity, or you go to work for a nonprofit and you make next to nothing and kill yourself for the greater good. I think we need to re-think that. You can do both. You can start a for-profit organisation that is built to do good and earn a lot of money at the same time. It’s about staying mission-focused, taking great care of all of your resources (people, environment, etc.), and doing what is right. I ultimately believe if you do that, profits will follow, because people want to buy from and support companies that do good.

What are a few tangible pieces of advice you would give someone looking to grow their business or organisation but currently feels stuck?

Find a support system of like-minded leaders in a similar place as you, and learn from and lean on each other. Especially for solo entrepreneurs or non-profit founders, it can be so incredibly difficult to go it alone. When you have someone to bounce ideas off of and ask for advice and support, it can be a game changer.

Don’t spread yourself too thin. I’d like to say focus on one thing, but I know that isn’t possible, especially in the early stages. But be mindful of the work and projects you do take on. Protect your energy and time, and put it into the things that will move the needle the most. We often feel stuck because we don’t know the right next step because there are a thousand things we could do. The more you focus in, the less that happens.

For non-profits, be extra strategic about donors, board members, and partners who share your values and want to do things the right way. Don’t just take money because you need it, and try to find donors who believe in the importance of “overhead” or “administration”. It’s not a bad thing. You can’t run an organisation that is understaffed with underpaid people, or reach your audience with no marketing budget. It’s such a hard thing to do, but it makes an incredible difference.

What is your vision moving forward? Where would you like to take the company from here?

I’m looking to hire my first (part-time) staff member to help keep me organised and on target. I have a lot of big ideas and I need some reining in, sometimes. That’s a really exciting step for me and will allow me to do more of what I truly love, which is strategising with organisations on how to grow their impact.

I just kicked off an 8-week intensive with small non-profits locally to help them set a solid foundation to maximise and grow their impact, and maintain financial sustainability. My goal is to adapt that intensive into an online program early next year, so I can increase my own impact in the non-profit space.

I would like to start working with more for-profits that want to add or increase social impact through their businesses, whether that is through their internal processes or partnering with non-profits. It comes back to my comment about “doing good and doing well”. I’d like to see more businesses put an intentional focus on that.

My ultimate vision is about expanding my impact as much as possible. I have a finance degree, so the power of compound interest was practically beat into me in school. I want to create a compound impact. I want to look back at the organisations I’ve worked with and see how my work has helped them create massive positive impact with their beneficiaries and then see how those people whose lives were changed have gone on to create massive positive impact as well.


About Jessica

Whether Jessica was performing at Clown College, or calling women in nursing homes via a “phone-pal” program, or volunteering at the YMCA, she has always been a dedicated servicewoman. But even more than serving, Jessica wants to serve strategically. Jessica can be easily influenced toward your passion, and she wants to hear what you’ve got up your sleeve. She holds a degree in finance and an MBA from the University of Tulsa. She has worked as an adjunct professor at the TU, teaching Creativity and Innovation to some of the brightest entrepreneurs in town. She still can’t decide if coffee or wine brings better ideas. But who wants to choose? You can connect with her at prodigyandco.com


As the founder of a social enterprise, I have found there still seems to be some confusion about what exactly a social enterprise is. Many individuals often confuse social enterprise with a non-profit organisation.

So what exactly is a social enterprise?

According to The Centre for Social Enterprise:

“A social enterprise is a revenue-generating business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to deliver profit to shareholders and owners.”

Contrary to popular belief, social enterprises are not a new phenomena. In fact, this type of business has been around for ages, but it’s only in recent times that it has acquired the name it is currently known by. Back in the day, social enterprises were known as ‘cooperatives’ in the UK or ‘philanthropic organisations’ in the United States .

Over the last decade, social enterprises have gained some traction in the marketplace, partly fuelled by the success of similar ventures. Here are a few reasons why Social Enterprises (SEs) are on the rise.

Baby boomers scarcity mentality

One of the main reasons why social enterprises are taking off is partly due to the scarcity mentality of the baby boomers during the 80’s. These individuals’ fear of not having enough created a deep desire within them to create wealth and hang on to it at all costs. Back then, corporates were only interested in profit and so the planet suffered, people suffered. That’s why many corporations have gone now or are experiencing great hardship. This has cleared the way for altruistic entrepreneurs with a drive to promote change in society. It’s not longer all about the money.

The need to connect

Humans have an innate need to connect with each other and this fact is becoming more evident with the continuous upsurge of social enterprises not just in Australia, but the rest of the world. Sociological studies have proven that social connection improves one’s psychological health and physical well being. In fact, one study showed that social connection strengthens the immune system and increases the chances of longevity by 50 per cent.

Is it then any wonder that more and more entrepreneurs are yielding to the call of connecting and helping humanity and society in general?

The massive impact

On a world wide scale, social enterprises employ up to six percent of the working population and contribute to GDP in the region of hundreds of billions. In Britain, SEs contribute more than £24 billion to the economy and employ approximately one million people. In the USA, these enterprises employ more than 10 million people and account for more that $500 billion in revenue.

According to a 2010 report published by Findings Australia Social Enterprises Sector (FASEs), there were approximately 20,000 social enterprises in Australia which employed approximately 56,000 people. There is, however, no doubt that the number has grown since that time and the economic impact has strengthened.

The multi-billionaire’s tip

There’s an old adage that says, “Love only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself if you give it way to others.” This year, multi-billionaire entrepreneur and CEO of Virgin Atlantic, Sir Richard Branson, dished out some advice to fellow entrepreneurs. Branson said that entrepreneurs should “not focus too much on money”. He added that only businesses with a purpose beyond profit will succeed. This one tip may have contributed to the increase of social enterprises and even renewed the zeal of entrepreneurs to do more to benefit society.

More successful than SMEs

Although making a profit is not the primary objective of social enterprises, there are staggering statistics to prove that starting a social enterprise is much more profitable than a Small or Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME). A survey conducted in the UK showed that 38 per cent of social enterprises experienced an increase in turnover compared to 29 per cent of small and medium sized enterprises. This statistics give credence to Richard Branson’s statement that “only those businesses with a purpose beyond benefit will be successful.”

Businesses are getting back into the heart and soul

Famous children’s author, Charles Dickens said, “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” More and more businesses are getting back to the basics of helping society and its people. This can be attributed to the increasing dissatisfaction with just making a profit. Social enterprises, like my own, all over the world are helping to create change that is leading to positive outcomes for the less fortunate among us. In addition, people appreciate generosity and businesses who are charitable earn a lot of respect and support from consumers.

With the massive impact of social enterprises, there seems to be no end to their continuous growth. And who would want to stifle such a movement that is generating good will and giving purpose to so many people? I, for one, will never stop trying to make a difference to those who need it most through my own businesses and hope to see the rise in SEs continue.

Do you know of other inspiring social enterprise – share them with us in the comments below!

Kathy Wong
Kathy-Wong-Leaders-in-Heels-MoelocoKathy Wong, founder of Soul Republic and Moeloco, has a burning passion to inspire a community of individuals, encourage them to hope, to live their dreams, to create change and take meaningful action in the world around them. After many years running her own highly successful design business, Kathy felt unfulfilled and knew that she needed to reassess her daily work and life.

Through her social enterprise, Moeloco, Kathy is not just inspiring others to make a difference in the world, she is facilitating it through her ‘buy one, give one’ business model. Every product sold by Moeloco directly benefits a child in need through the Hope Foundation. Visit www.moeloco.com for more details and inspiration.