Brittany Déjean and Rolling with the Punches

By Anna Mortimer, Fordham University student.

Brittany Déjean, a former student of Michael Pirson’s, recently came and spoke to his Sustainable Business class.  As a social entrepreneur, she had much wisdom to share about her process from idea to creation. But her message was much more than just shared experience.

Déjean shared with us how she came to understand the needs of the population she wanted to serve. Through her father’s struggles, and ultimate successes, as a paralyzed individual, she began to understand something unique about her family’s situation. Throughout college she studied more and more about people who were handicapped in different countries. And through her study abroad experience in China as well as one of her classes at school, the idea for what she called “Baby AbleThrive” developed. 

She acknowledged that there were many setbacks to what eventually became the website called AbleThrive that launched earlier this year.

While the idea came to her in college—the idea of creating an online space to collect resources so that people in the handicapped community could have access to physical resources, as well as the other members of their community as resources—there were many obstacles she faced. Setbacks like lost funding, changes in the internet she couldn’t have predicted, as well as the need for a real paying job all hindered her ability to move forward with her idea from 2007 to today.

Déjean also talked about her time as an Echoing Green Fellow. Echoing Green is an organization that funds social entrepreneurs in their seed stages of their proposed organization or company. In addition to funding Echoing Green serves as a meeting space for these fellows to get professional, networking, and communal support from the network of other Echoing Green Fellows. Brittany spoke about the impact Echoing Green had had on her development process as well as herself as an entrepreneur.

Déjean’s message wasn’t all about her new website. In fact, she spent a large part of the presentation talking about the importance in believing in yourself, and not giving up on your ideas. For Déjean, the ability to believe in yourself and keep pursuing your dream even if people around you don’t always give you the support you need, is what can make you a good social entrepreneur.