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  • Writer's pictureGreat Companies

Debbie Hansen-Bosse : Winner of the 2024 Great Companies International Women Entrepreneur Award

Name: Debbie Hansen-Bosse

Business Name: The Flora May Foundation

Location: San Clemente, Orange County , USA

Establishment (Year): 2015

Category: Social Enterprise and NGO

Profession/ Specialty: Non Profit Founder & CEO

Social Media: LinkedIn

Company Details

Debbie Hansen-Bosse, Founder & CEO of The Flora May Foundation, leads an exceptional non-profit organization dedicated to empowering parents in crisis through its unique perspective as a 100% female-led initiative. The foundation takes pride in its all-female staff, Board of Directors, and volunteers, contributing to a diverse and inclusive environment.

The Flora May Foundation, under Debbie's visionary leadership, offers a range of impactful free programs and services aimed at fostering happy homes.  With a mission rooted in empowerment, the foundation focuses on:

- Listening and guiding parents with challenging situations involving their kids

- Offering a workforce development program, created after years of research & interviews

- Campaigning for improved children’s mental health services

- Offering *Pathway Scholar’s, another program created by CEO Debbie Hansen-Bosse

- Making a positive difference in the lives of every family we serve.

* Pathway Scholars is a program for adults attending college for the 1st time.

Our female-led initiatives stand out not only for our commitment to excellence but also for its dedication to promoting gender diversity and inclusivity within the organization. Debbie Hansen-Bosse's leadership at The Flora May Foundation exemplifies the qualities that make her a top-notch female entrepreneur, deserving of recognition.

Unique Selling Proposition or Competitive Advantage:

Parents who turn to The Flora May Foundation not only benefit from our dedicated support but also express enthusiasm for the invaluable free assistance we provide. By connecting families with relevant resources, we empower them to navigate their unique challenges effectively. Our mission is to make a positive impact on the lives of struggling children and teens, and our extensive network of partners contributes significantly to achieving this goal.

One aspect Debbie’s gone above and beyond:  Creating partnerships with like-minded non profits and organizations.  Each of our partners has something to offer the families we assist; be it counseling/therapy, transportation, clothing, food insecurity and many other pressing issues a struggling family may need.  Debbie meticulously sought out specific organizations to partner with and the list of resources for our clients is growing exponentially.  It’s largely complimentary when we’re asked to partner with companies like Cox Communications.

The only non-profit that is somewhat ‘similar’ to The Flora May Foundation is The BILY Group (BILY stands for Because I Love You).  The BILY Group is a parental support group held every week on Zoom.  The meetings are group, not one on one, a primary difference between what we offer and what BILY does.  Prior to Covid, BILY Group meetings were held in person in San Clemente.  They exist for the same reasons we do; to help parents experiencing unusual difficulties with their child or teenager.  The BILY Group is in fact a partner of The Flora May Foundation’s, which is perfectly in line with our services and goals.  We cross-refer clients, as we do with Working Wardrobes (another partner) and ROWE Treatment Centers.  The highlight of my year is creating partnerships with other NGO’s.  The more we can offer our clients, the more “full service” we’ll become.  It’s commonplace for FMF and our partners to send clients to each other/cross-refer.  As I always say “We’re much better - together”, when joining forces with non-profits.

For example; our workforce development program is called Working Women Winning (WWW).  After participants are ready to hit the interview train, we send them to Working Wardrobes for new interview clothing.  If the family is experiencing food insecurity, we partner with a NGO who has a grocery store and no money is accepted for payment.  None of our clients had ever heard or knew of the services, which we’re thrilled to share with them.  Wrap-around services benefit the entire family, not just the women.  We’re currently expanding our partnerships and will have exciting news in the 2nd quarter of this year.

Challenges Faced During the Journey 

To overcome the challenges and reach where we are now, The Flora May Foundation has focused on building awareness of our free programs. This involves a multifaceted approach, from donating hundreds of thousands of toys annually to low income families to engaging in active grant writing efforts. Navigating the complexities of staffing and juggling various responsibilities, often wearing multiple hats, has been instrumental in our success (and my ability to perform every task I hire people to do).

One significant obstacle we've faced is the struggle for awareness of our services. To tackle this, I have personally dedicated time to network in person at events in OC, actively engaging with the community to drum up awareness. This commitment extends beyond the virtual realm, as we recognize the importance of attending events in real life, fostering connections, and spreading the word about the impactful work The Flora May Foundation is doing. Despite these challenges, our persistence in raising awareness has been a key factor in our journey to make a positive impact on the lives of struggling children and teens.

Advice for Women Entrepreneurs:

For young women aspiring to be entrepreneurs or those already on the entrepreneurial path, here are some pieces of hard-won advice:

- Embrace Your Unique Perspective:

Recognize and value the unique perspective you bring to the table as a woman. Your diverse experiences can be a strength in navigating challenges and finding innovative solutions.

- Build a Stellar Network:

Surround yourself with mentors, advisors, and a network of fellow entrepreneurs. Having a support system is crucial for gaining insights, sharing experiences, and overcoming obstacles. Attend civic events to stay relevant on current issues.

- Keep Learning:

Stay curious and commit to continuous learning. The business landscape evolves, and staying informed about industry trends, technology, and market changes will keep you ahead of the curve.

- Confidence in Decision-Making:

Trust your instincts and have confidence in your decision-making abilities. Being assertive and decisive is essential in entrepreneurship, and learning from both successes and failures is part of the journey.

- Resilience:

Entrepreneurship comes with ups and downs. Develop resilience to bounce back from setbacks, learn from challenges, and keep moving forward. Every obstacle is an opportunity for growth.

- Seek Feedback and Pivot:

Be open to feedback and willing to adapt. Constructive criticism is a valuable tool for improvement. Use feedback as a means to refine your ideas, strategies and goals.

- Value Work-Life Balance:

While entrepreneurship requires dedication, it's crucial to maintain a healthy work-life balance. Prioritize self-care to avoid burnout and sustain the long-term success of your endeavors. This is difficult for many women, especially if they have children.

- Negotiation Skills:

Sharpen your negotiation skills. Whether it's securing deals, partnerships, or contracts, effective negotiation is a vital skill that can contribute significantly to your business success.

- Diversity and Inclusion:

Promote diversity and inclusion within your business. Embrace diverse perspectives and experiences, as it can enhance creativity, problem-solving, and overall business success.  Hiring from diverse backgrounds will help build a strong organization with various viewpoints. 

- Celebrate Achievements:

Take the time to celebrate your achievements, both big and small. Acknowledge your hard work and successes, as it fuels motivation and provides a positive outlook on your entrepreneurial journey.



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