“You go through depression, you go through your own mental battles and struggles and obviously being homeless at the time, it definitely not a good thing. Remember why you’re doing it, because nothing good comes easy you know. You have to suffer, but that suffering isn’t there to make you weak its there to make you stronger. If you can remember that and if you can fight through those hard times, then when you come out the other side there is truly nothing that can stop you. You need to stay strong, you might stumble and might fall but you doesn’t mean you’re going to give up”.Jesse T Martin
Why did you start your own business?
I started The Streets Movement Organisation (TSM) due to a number of circumstances both in my personal life and circumstances of the community and environment I grew up in. In a community context the place I grew up in had a number of socio-economic challenges with little to no places for youth to partake in if you had no money. I was given a home at a local boxing club where they did not charge to attend. Once this closed the local youth who attended this facility along with myself where without a place to call home, train or occupy our time in a positive way. Hence the reason TSM was founded, to provide a place and path in the community particularly for those with little opportunity or for those with nothing. TSM was born out of necessity as a response to lack of opportunity and support within our community.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
We have faced many challenges as a organisation. Some of the major ones include;
1). Knowledge and Education. In the initial stages lack of knowledge and know how in a professional context of how a organisation is supposed to operate i.e. meetings, minutes, departmental forms, administration etc. Being young and with little support in this regard we were oblivious to many things that make a organisation operate efficiently day to day. This was a major hurdle to overcome however with greater knowledge, education and understanding we were able to remedy this fault to build ourselves into the national organisation we are today.
2). Lack of Finance and Funding. A major hurdle which in many ways is a ongoing challenge of any organisation. Particularly in the stages of our organisation when we have operated community spaces and centres ensuring funding for rent, electricity and gear has always been a struggle. For any organisation to grow and be truly effective finance is essential as it gives your org and its staff the capacity to expand and work beyond its parameters and does not leave you in a position of relying wholly and solely on handouts or volunteers (whom are fantastic and fundamental to community success however still have drawbacks in that it is only limited in what they can work towards for the org i.e. times around work, weekends etc).
3). Legitimacy and Respectability is a major challenge to overcome. Being a young org in the beginning our greatest struggles came from any businesses, organisations or even the community taking us seriously. Particularly a problem faced for young orgs (and young people in general) is the stakeholders seeing the enthusiasm but not taking yourself or the organisation in any serious way. This in turn impacts the org in a major fashion as you are unable to acquire the support or funding necessary to drive forward your programs.
4). Keeping staff/volunteers motivated. A challenge faced for many orgs is keeping your staff and volunteers motivated and excited for the cause they are representing. We found that although volunteers are in abundance keeping set individuals for a prolonged period of time in tackling major community issues (many of which require constant and consistent attention) is a challenge. As many people have lives outside of this volunteerism and give only set hours or pieces of time when they can. Due to this being a secondary priority volunteers and staff can lose motivation, focus or even interest in dealing with issues which impact the community and org.
5). Consistency. A major hurdle to overcome is consistency, which can encompass a vast array of different aspects. Consistency in program outreach, staff/volunteer approach, organisational quality, community action etc. Consistency is key in building a solid reputation as well as having a meaningful and ongoing impact within the community.
6). Belief in the oneself and the organisation. It is all too often to find yourself asking why you are doing what you are doing? Within the organisational context this holds true with at times a hard and bumpy road ahead. At these times when you are alone, isolated and without a dollar to your name these are the trying and testing moments which as an individual must you are doing what you are doing? Within the organisational context this holds true with at times a hard and bumpy road ahead. At these times when you are alone, isolated and without a dollar to your name these are the trying and testing moments which as an individual must be overcome so as you can embody what it means to be a leader and an individual who stands for your org and cause no matter the cost. I faced too many of these moments to count being at times without a home, bed to sleep in or even where the next meal was coming from? However during these times it is important to remember who you are and why you are here.
How’d you overcome those challenges?
Belief and Attitude. Whether the challenge was possible or impossible was irrelevant. It was necessary to overcome.
So where is your business at, and what are your future plans?
TSM is currently in a expansionist phase having now grown from a local grassroots organisation with a regional impact to now having its first national program with an international focus. Being able to offer a program which engages on the local grassroots level to communities across the nation whilst being able to bring in international networks and partnerships for these individuals is what we hope to hold. The utilisation and knowledge of both worlds is fundamental to ensuring a successful outcome for our latest venture the Mulumulung International Scholar Initiative. Future growth for the organisation will encompass greater community development projects and impact. With greater expansion through Asia poised to centre stage over the next 12 to 18 months we will deliver our initiatives and opportunities not only on the national stage but through providing pathways to the international community. Through utilisation of educational institutions and companies worldwide we look to frame our programs to have a holistic impact upon individuals and community. Through the utilisation of education this is truly the way forward for not only us as an organisation but for us as a species.
“Veni. Vidi. Vici”Julius Ceasar.
“I came. I saw. I conquered”.Julius Ceasar.
“We need to find that place of economic prosperity, our own economic development, because that is really what is going to drive change.”
Jesse T Martin is a Eora man who now lives in Cairns, and is the founder of the Streets Movement Organisation. He strives for social change by fighting for a hand up instead of a hand out.