7/1/15 – This guest blog post is written by The Humane Business Developers, a Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise MBA student start-up that seeks to create unique business models for the animal shelter industry. The Humane Business Developers are conducting their summer field work with the Humane Society of Grand Bahama.
This summer we arrived in Freeport, Grand Bahama to a warm welcome from Tip Burrows, Director of the Humane Society of Grand Bahama (HSGB) and all the staff. The HSGB serves a crucial function on Grand Bahama, and without their services, the overpopulation of animals would affect the lifeblood of the island: tourist dollars. The Humane Society of Grand Bahama shelters nearly 200 dogs and 100 cats at any given time, but has many inefficient processes and doubles as a junkyard. As animal shelter consultants, we, the Humane Business Developers, aim to help the HSGB improve their processes and systems which will ultimately improve the biodiversity of Grand Bahama and protect the tourism industry.
When people hear the word “consultant,” they often associate it with advice given to top management – but we operate differently than typical consultants. Prior to arrival, we spent months researching best practices. Before we could implement any of those new processes though, we had to jump in, get our hands dirty, and prove ourselves. So, for the first two weeks of our pilot, we engaged in many hours of sweaty, hard, manual labor to beautify and clean the four acres that the shelter sits on, as well as many rooms in the building. It was dirty, filthy work that involved scrubbing floors, multiple trips to the dump, and some days being covered with and smelling like animal waste. However, it garnered us the respect of all the shelter’s employees.
The shelter industry is filled with wonderful individuals who truly care and are passionate about the well-being of all animals. These employees work very hard and expect all others around them to work hard as well. After cleaning the shelter top to bottom, we are no longer seen as merely consultants. Instead, we are seen as a group of people who are willing to persevere towards a common goal: saving animals’ lives. Through this experience, and backed by employee trust, we are now able to look at more systematic changes. Important lesson learned thus far: true education comes in the form of “getting your hands dirty.”