The year is 2000. Six sharp Latino students from different high schools nationwide cross paths and become friends while participating in summer leadership programs at the National Hispanic Institute (NHI). They keep in touch as they pursue degrees at various universities. Fast-forward to 2007; the same six are either in the workforce or in law or grad school, and they begin talking about the idea of developing their own company.
In 2009, the six made the commitment to follow through with the idea, cofounding and launching Our Community Inc., also referred to as OCI Group. They saw a need to establish a consulting firm that was about inspiring and motivating other companies, nonprofits, and individuals to produce positive impacts in their communities. Social purpose is their niche; therefore, clients are described as social-purpose businesses (SPB).
“The reason it took two years to develop the company was because with our different backgrounds, we all had offers to go work in different places,” says H. Analco González, OCI Group’s managing partner. All six founding partners had to make conscious decisions to turn down offers at law firms, government agencies, corporations, and school districts to make the riskier decision to venture out on their own with only an idea.
“Promoting growth and impacting the community will allow communities and their businesses to prosper.”
During those two years between 2007 and 2009, aside from making career changes, the group was able to develop a strong plan and understanding of what exactly it wanted to accomplish professionally. OCI Group’s services fall under two main categories: economic development and leadership development. The first encompasses intergovernmental affairs and lobbying, strategic outreach, communications, marketing, and branding. The second consists of educational consulting, curriculum development and implementation, workshops and presentations, and governance. The main goal is to create self-sufficient businesses, endeavors, and campaigns that will have a long-lasting impact to benefit the client, so they in turn can continue contributing positively to society.
This goal is achieved through a process trademarked as “The 3 Ps”: paradigm, purpose, and practice. Paradigm identifies the client’s business, their beliefs, how they view themselves as an entity within the community, and how they view their community.
Then, OCI Group looks at how to create and ingrain a purpose based on the client’s business philosophy. As their purpose is put into practice, OCI Group continues their evaluation of the entity by looking at the benefits the client and its community are receiving, and by also asking how it impacts the old corporate culture—and how the team, employees, and community feel about the change.
“We explain to clients that this is the way we help to alter businesses in the 21st century. Promoting growth and impacting the community will allow communities and their businesses to prosper,” González says.
Take ThinkVoting, a startup client since January that is preparing to launch a mobile application called The Voting App nationwide for the 2016 presidential elections. This bilingual app is available in English and Spanish and provides information on how to register to vote, where to vote, who the candidates are, and the underlying issues. Going through its three Ps, OCI Group first identifies the paradigm of voters. Despite San Antonio’s large population, the number of voters is dwindling, which makes this city a great opportunity for ThinkVoting to inform and excite voters to get out the vote. Creating this social change is then identified as the purpose. The last step is putting the plan into action.
“ThinkVoting is a social purpose business because their philosophy is to impact the community through civic engagement,” González says, adding that OCI Group is very proud to have helped this startup launch in San Antonio (after a pilot trial in Austin), having engaged Latino community organizations to get out the vote and provided a comprehensive outreach effort and translation services for the Spanish portion of the app.
OCI Group wants to have a more physical presence across the nation within the next five years. They are planning to open offices in Illinois, Florida, and California and continue adding more partners, staff, and team members. They credit NHI, not only for how they met, but also for instilling in them their business principles and passion for volunteering. The company gives back to its communities through volunteer work like speaking at local schools and through a mentorship program for its high school and college interns.
“That’s something that we really take to heart and is important for us to continue, even as our company grows,” González says.