ladder construction is a diverse picture book and online curriculum publishing platform with a mission to empower over 1 million children to become social entrepreneurs. The current series features interplanetary journalist Spiffy's interviews with inspiring social entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship ecosystem builders and changemakers driving the United Nations SDGs forward.
It's spicy here! We're back with the scoop on the planet's entrepreneurial leaders. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I'm excited to present this galaxy-only story with Yonka Blackman, Founder and CEO of Impact Shakers. See what she's doing to positively impact the world.
Spicy: Thanks for joining us, Yonka! Please tell us what challenges you are tackling through your organization.
Yonka: I'm glad to be here, Spiffy! We're on a mission to change who builds business, how and why. We want to enable anyone, regardless of background, skin color, ethnicity or gender, to start their own business with the goal of addressing social and environmental challenges. We also want to be able to do this while caring not only for ourselves, but also for the people who support our business. And grow your business.
Spicy: That is wonderful! What is your motivation for doing that?
Yonka: The conviction that business is a force for good and can be used as a tool to solve some of the world's most pressing challenges, but one critical element was missing to reach its full potential. And this was the fact that the people who use entrepreneurship as a means of tackling problems are not diverse at all. They were of the same gender, came from the same socio-economic class, had the same degree, and even attended primarily the same schools. How can we solve the complex problems we face if there is no diversity in the perspectives of the people coming up with the solutions?
Spicy: How do you think your organization is working towards a more just world?
Yonka: We work towards a fairer world by building fairer businesses. Entrepreneurship is a very powerful way to contribute to a better world. It strengthens and provides opportunities for more inclusive employment, intergenerational wealth and social mobility. On top of this, if we actually use it to tackle social and environmental challenges, the potential impact is huge and systemic.
Spicy: Please tell us about some recent organizational milestones and initiatives. How does it impact your audience and community?
Yonka: We are very happy to finally be able to invest in companies that we can work with and that are already supported with knowledge, networks and access to capital. Providing access to all of this is great and necessary, but unless we can financially support the businesses we work with with real money, our impact will remain limited. Although it is popular to support diverse entrepreneurs, it is still not possible to receive investment on top of support. To make a big impact, you still need to invest in enabling your business to reach its full potential.
Spicy: Tell us about an exciting startup that helped your organization grow its impact.
Yonka: Vyld is building an “algal poem.” The founders are incredibly inspiring women, from filmmakers to the founders of businesses that manufacture period pieces from seaweed, one of the world's oldest and most sustainable plants. The first product is the seaweed tampon “Kelpon.” What's most inspiring is how they think about building a business and how to make it sustainable, fair and caring from start to finish.
Spicy: Is there anything else you would like to tell our viewers?
Yonka: If you're thinking of becoming an entrepreneur, it's the best thing and the worst thing you can do, but nothing beats it. If you want to make a big impact in the world and are a problem-solver, resilient, and easily adapt to change, consider becoming an entrepreneur and explore the ways you best understand. Please help me address some of the issues I have.
Spicy: Thank you for speaking with us today, Yonka, it was an honor!
Jonka Blackman is the founder and CEO of. impact shaker, a global impact ecosystem that addresses social and environmental challenges through inclusive entrepreneurship. She is an entrepreneur on a mission and an investor in undervalued founders. She has helped build the Belgian and European technology startup ecosystem and is a sought-after startup mentor and judge. (She from Hubspot Ventures was nominated by Josef Scarantino. First published on her Ladderworks website on January 19, 2024.)
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewees and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Ladderworks LLC.
© 2024 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Sujit Kunte. Spiffy's illustration Shreyas Navarre. For more information about Ladderworks digital curriculum that helps kids from kindergarten to high school advance the United Nations' SDGs, visit: Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-12 Kids and Their Parents here.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.