Partner Profile: Propeller


We're excited to feature the New Orleans-based non-profit, Propeller, in this month's Partner Profile. Not only are they doing fantastic work supporting social entrepreneurs in their community, but they're also partnering with the Wallace Center to host the 2020 National Good Food Network Conference in New Orleans this March! We spoke with Senior Food Program Manager, Kristine Creveling, (who was a participant in the FSLN's first Systems Leadership Retreat in Detroit, MI back in 2017) to learn more about their mission, programs, and learnings along the way. Thanks, Kristine!
Propeller Background:

Mission: Propeller grows and support entrepreneurs to tackle social and environmental disparities. We work to create a powerful community of diverse entrepreneurs and stakeholders working together for a more equitable future where everyone can lead healthy, fulfilling lives free of racism, poverty, and other systems of oppression.
How bout a quick elevator pitch?!
For entrepreneurs in New Orleans seeking to grow both their businesses and their social impact, Propeller provides an impact accelerator program that fosters equitable growth through mentorship, technical assistance, and community-building. Because unlike other entrepreneurial support organizations in New Orleans, Propeller’s equity grounding and sector-based approach fosters a critical mass of diverse stakeholders tackling social and environmental inequities.
What is one thing that makes your organization stand out?
We work with double and triple bottom line companies using an approach grounded in equity. Propeller seeks to help facilitate contacts, contracts, capital, and community for the entrepreneurs we work with.
We work in five areas of focus: food, health, education, water, and community-economic development
Are there any organizations or individuals you look to as a role model in your work? Why? (Name just two please!) 

  1. The Food Trust- because of their systems level approach. The Food Trust does direct programming with interventions at the individual, built environment, and policy levels.
  2. Living Cities- for their research in building inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems and innovative financial resources.
Systems Leadership Approach
How does Propeller partner with others to catalyze systems change?
The Propeller food sector has found meaningful ways to collaborate to deepen our impact. Our Healthy Corner Store program is a collaborative effort between Propeller, Top Box Foods, Liberty’s Kitchen, the City of New Orleans, and many other food system partners. Propeller does what we are good at which is business technical assistance and we rely on our other partners for food prep, ordering, and distribution. Propeller is on the steering committee of the Food Policy Advisory Committee and we have helped advocate for some big food policy wins for New Orleans. We are in constant communication with other entrepreneurial support organizations and economic development agencies such as the New Orleans Business Alliance and the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development.
Learnings Along the Way:
Given what you know now, what is one thing you wish you’d done differently as the organization developed?
Propeller has experienced rapid growth over the last few years. In retrospect, the operations of the organization were not adequate to efficiently support our growth. This led to some challenges which we are now working to overcome.
What is one of Propeller’s proudest achievements?
Since 2011, Propeller’s Impact Accelerator has grown 245+ social ventures that have generated over $112+ million in revenue and financing and created 485+ permanent jobs. Our businesses overall have an 84 percent survival rate, compared to the national average of 56 percent.
What is one challenge you’re facing right now? Anything your fellow FSLN members might be able to help with? 
Our Farm to Institution program has been a bit like pushing a boulder up a hill. We have met with many anchor institutions in the area who are interested in local procurement in theory, but fail to make the purchases once we have identified an appropriate product.
Needs/Resources
Any quotes or words of wisdom that you find inspiring during this season?
We can’t take care of others if we aren’t first taking care of ourselves!
Have you created any useful processes/resources that you’re particularly excited about? If so, please share! 
o We have a wonderful resources page on our website for starting, growing, and funding a business. We are adding resources all the time.

Visit their website (http://gopropeller.org/) to learn more. Thanks again, Propeller!

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