BETH MEADOWS STORY
Hi, I’m Beth Meadows, founder of Supply Hope.
I absolutely love what I get to do with my life.
I enjoy who I get to do it with.
I enjoy who we get to do it for.
And, I’m passionate about our mission.
I believe that every hard working person should be given a path out of poverty, and a chance to provide for their family, regardless of where or to whom they were born.
When I first went to Nicaragua, I was volunteering for an organization that helped orphans with housing, food and education. I LOVE children, and enjoyed the afternoon playing with them, taking pictures and just holding them in my arms. I remember asking a volunteer, “What happened to the parents of these children?” He replied, “The parents are still alive. They had to abandon their kids because they were too poor to care for them.” What? I had to go back to the van so that the kids wouldn’t see me cry.
I laid awake that night thinking about how I would feel if I was those kids’ mother. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to WANT to feed your children but not be able to do it. To give up your children to the care of others so they could survive. And, I realized that those mothers weren’t any different from me.
I grew up in a middle class suburb of Chicago, and had a great childhood. After high school, I attended college and majored in psychology because I knew that I wanted to help people. I married my high school sweetheart, had two kids, and worked for a counseling center. I enjoyed helping people, but found that I couldn’t leave work at work. My tendency to empathize with patients to the point of actually taking on their pain became a real problem for me. I decided to quit and decided to stay at home with my two young kids.
Eventually, my husband entered into deeply self-destructive behavior that was too difficult for me and the kids. It was a sad time of my life that ultimately led to a painful divorce. Now, I was a single mom with two kids – I felt alone and scared. I started attending a local church in the Chicago suburbs and re-ignited my Christian faith. God became very real to me, and I felt him leading and guiding my life.
I knew that I needed to provide for my kids, but didn’t know how. Then, I remembered that I had an entrepreneurial spirit my whole life. For example, when all my friends were doing lemonade stands for fun, I was doing it as a scalable business! At 8 years old, I didn’t have one lemonade stand, I had 3. So, as a single mom with a deep desire to provide for my kids and prove that I was capable of doing so, I asked my neighbor, Mr. Zable for a $10,000 loan to buy a local secretarial service that was up for sale. He agreed, and I bought the business.
To make a long story short, I doubled the sales of every business I bought, reinvested the profits into new businesses, and sold businesses along the way. I’ve started over fifteen companies, some succeeded and some failed. But, eventually I started a travel agency – that then developed a travel franchise, expanded to 265 locations nationwide, and then sold the network of franchises to an American Express Network – right before booking travel went online. (WHEW!)
The sale of my travel franchise business allowed me to establish myself financially and I started looking for ways to give to causes that resonated with me.
I never got over the knowledge that kids were abandoned because their parents could not provide for them. I thought back to my own situation as a single mom, recently divorced, and with a desire to provide for my kids. I remember Mr. Zable giving me a path out – an opportunity. I remember what it felt like to work hard, and be rewarded for that hard work.
And, then it hit me. In the U.S. in general, if we work hard and apply ourselves, we can find enough opportunity to provide for the basic needs of our family. In Nicaragua – and many other developing countries around the world – this is not the case. There simply is NOT a path out of poverty. It’s cyclical. It’s passed down from generation to generation. And, the root cause of it all is joblessness, a lack of opportunity.
Having spent my life in franchising, I started dreaming what it could look like to not only create jobs for the poor, but to create opportunities for the poor to run their own business with the guidance and collaboration advantages that a franchise system provides. I started dreaming about what it could look like to see mothers providing not just food, but adequate shelter, education, and a better future for their children. And, I started dreaming of Supply Hope – an organization providing the opportunity for reliable income through “micro”-franchises.
The issues of the poor are too many to name, but you’ll find that the primary root cause of it all is joblessness – 9 times out of 10. With what we are doing at Supply Hope, we can solve that. We must solve that.
I believe that to whom much is given, much is expected. God has blessed me with a wonderful business career. But, I think I’d be missing the whole point if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing now. I’m channeling my business journey into the prospect of developing economies for the poor. I wanted to take what I did well, and teach others how to do it.
I believe in giving opportunity, not charity. I want to give hard-working, humble, resourceful people a path out of poverty. I want to see them work for it, and feel the joy of success when they conquer their dreams. I want to see them smile as they see their kids flourish. I want to see them one day give back to others around them. I want to see them get the same opportunities I had. I want to see it happen. And, I hope you do too.
Beth Meadows, Founder of Supply Hope