Underserved communities need more than just donations, buildings and wells. They need trustworthy, dependable partners who listen and collaborate. Hope Builds seeks to partner with underserved communities in their efforts to raise and sustain their standard of living through basic healthcare, permanent housing and community empowerment.

They believe the first priority when working with any community is to create a relationship based on trust. They believe in listening – from aspirations to challenges and needs. They believe every individual has the capacity to improve his or her life and community, when the opportunity exists. It’s why they can take conventional aid and transform it into a unique, customized tool for communities to move from surviving to thriving.

I was immediately drawn to working with Hope Builds when I heard their founder, Akin Afolayan, tell the story of how it was created. Growing up in the city limits of Lagos, Nigeria, overlooking the slums everyday never settled very well with Akin. It wasn’t until his early 20’s that realized why. It was then that he understood that the people who lived these slums were decent, good people. They weren’t any different from you and me, aside from the fact that they lived in a slum, they didn’t deserve to be looked as being less human because of it, they deserved to be treated with dignity in spite of it.

This epiphany drove Akin to create Hope Builds with the purpose to be a catalyst for moving communities from “merely surviving” to thriving.


Working with a diverse team we started the engagement with one a day workshop to help define the story of Hope Builds and clearly articulate the value proposition.

We walked Akin and his team through a series of questions intended to reveal and define the purpose of the organization. The questions were designed to help Akin and his team think about their organization in pieces allowing them focus on one part at a time.

The goal was to discuss each question and distill the answers to their simplest form. The outcome provided an a new understanding of the organizations purpose, strategy for engagement and direct beneficiaries.


In addition to helping Akin and his team see their organization in a simpler way we wanted to dedicate a part of the day to helping his team understand the importance of a strong name and identity. At the time of the workshop the name of the organization was Hope Floats Initiative. While this was a perfect, literal description of what the organization did it did not communicate the passion, inspiration or commitment of the organization. Not to mention the first thought to come to mind when hearing that name was the 1998 movie of the same name starring Sandra Bullock.

The intent was to define the characteristics that create a good identity and provide examples of recognized brands that exemplify them. Our goal was to gain approval to begin exploration of a new name and mark for the organization.


With the story and purpose of Hope Builds created we had the content and understanding needed to begin designing the identity and business and funding proposal.

At the core of what Hope Builds creates is a relationship of trust. That trust is the critical foundation to empower the members of the community to take ownership of creating a better future for themselves. To do this, Hope Builds create a system that delivers health care and permanent housing to help empower the community to raise and sustain a higher standard of living.

The story, identity and materials we created to help Hope Builds secure funding for their initial medical mission that helped treat 1000 patients in hard to reach rural or urban slum communities over a period of 12 months.