Andrew and Tara met in Australia working on the Executive Team in a large social services NGO – Tara in marketing and Andrew in enterprise and strategic development.
Sitting in a café one morning we shared our restlessness and frustration with lack of progress. We were passionate about justice and equality and were fed up with bureaucracy. We had a fire in our bellies, an unquenched thirst for creating real social impact.
Three hours later we had the outline of a business plan written on a napkin for a new social venture – The Dragonfly Collective.
We started up in Melbourne, and spent 2012 advising and supporting NGOs and social enterprises to enhance their impact for homeless people, disabled people, the environment and asylum seekers. But we were still restless.
In 2013 we set out to explore what social justice meant internationally. We signed up for a Masters in Social Innovation in Vienna, packed our lives into two suitcases and travelled to 24 cities in 12 countries across Europe, Africa, North America, Central America and South America. This provided us with an invaluable international perspective on how people were dealing with poverty and disadvantage, the success and the failure.
In Tanzania we volunteered with a pre-primary school that operates not only as a school, but provides food, health care and clothing to the local village. In Washington DC we visited an educational café starting conversations about social justice through art, music and literature. In Vienna we met the founder of a social enterprise café staffed by ‘grannies’ on the pension designed to facilitate intergenerational connections and reduce poverty in old age. We met change makers all over the world – people committed to creating justice, empowerment and equality for others.
We were inspired.
We’ve now taken The Dragonfly Collective to the UK, partnering with many of the change-makers we met in our travels. We still have the napkin we scribbled on in the café that day. It’s a reminder that if you’re passionate about your vision, there is no beginning too small.