In 2013, we founded Empower in order to strengthen civil society and improve corporate accountability by eliminating the strategic information gap between civil society stakeholders of corporations and businesses themselves. As advocates, organizers, and researchers, we seek not only to contribute to social impact but also to innovate new revenue streams and build a democratic economy model of worker ownership.
Empower accomplishes this by conducting strategic research, providing business intelligence, advising accountability and advocacy campaigns, and building civil society capacities to better understand capital and more effectively engage companies. Our vision for how to build grassroots power is our defining characteristic.
Empower is an innovative social enterprise that sells services and generates revenue exclusively from clients aligned with our Social Commitment, which are primarily civil society organizations of different shapes and sizes. We contribute entirely to the social sector and do not compete for recognition or revenue with CSOs.
We are a diverse team whose personal, linguistic, and work experiences span Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, and Europe. Professionally we are advocates, organizers, researchers, academics, lawyers, non-profit managers, communication experts, journalists, and data architects. Though we have worked primarily within and for the social sector, we have business, financial, government, public policy, political, content production, and editorial experience as well.
Empower is comprised of a Board of Directors, a chief executive officer, senior researchers, research associates, and administrative and external communication staff. We are supported by consultants and independent providers.
We also draw upon a wide network of allies throughout the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia. By working closely with them, we are able to execute field research in remote locations, collect sensitive data, and assist in cross-border strategy and planning.
Benjamin Cokelet is our founder, CEO, and president. He was the founding executive director (2010-19) of PODER www.projectpoder.org, a Latin American NGO recognized worldwide as a pioneer in the fields of corporate, accountability, business and human rights.
Since 1993 he has worked with non-profit organizations and trade unions primarily in the U.S., Mexico, and Latin America, taught public administration at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, and served on the boards of civil society, educational, philanthropic, social entrepreneurial, and media organizations.
He holds a BA in political science and African and African-American studies from Washington University in St. Louis and an MA in international business and politics from NYU. As a graduate student, Benjamin was awarded the Catherine B. Reynolds Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship and wrote his thesis on business politics and state capture in Mexico.
Benjamin is also a fellow of the foundations Ashoka and Echoing Green.
At Empower we follow a Social Commitment and we work with clients and partners that are aligned with them. In addition, we pledge to distribute the majority of our annual profits as philanthropic contributions to civil society partners.
BUSINESS MODEL & FINANCING
Empower is incorporated as a limited liability company. Following rigorous legal and financial research of social entrepreneurial and democratic economy models, with a preference for worker-owned structures, we decided on the figure of an LLC because it allowed us the flexibility to distribute membership or worker-owner units and fulfill our social mission and philanthropic commitment.
To date 100% of our revenue has come from sales and, for the foreseeable future, this business model promises stability and humble-to-modest growth. However, looking forward, we may choose to pursue lines of credit, issue slow-money debt, convertible debt, expand our equity base, and/or sell non-voting equity shares to qualified parties. Potential investors aligned with our long-term goals of economic, political, and social justice may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.