First Nations Founders Stories

Jesse T Martin, Founder of The Streets Movement Organisation

WHY DID YOU STARTED YOUR OWN BUSINESS

I started 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.

CHALLENGES FACED

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
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 DID YOU OVERCOME THE CHALLENGES

Belief and Attitude. Whether the challenge was possible or impossible was irrelevant. It was
necessary to overcome.

SIZE/STAGE OF YOUR BUSINESS AND 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.

Favourite Quote

"Veni. Vidi. Vici"
"I came. I saw. I conquered".
Julius Ceasar.