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Social Entrepreneur Nina Craft Empowers Women to Erase Self-Doubt
In grade school, Nina Craft didn't know the term "social entrepreneur" but she already had the instincts of one. "I was inspired by Lucy, of the Peanuts cartoon strip series," she recalls. "She gave advice at the lemonade stand that she turned into her office by posting the sign 'The Doctor is In.' So I set up my office on the playground in elementary school, and charged the kids for advice … until the principal told my parents that I would need to give the kids their money back!"
Today, Craft is better known as "Dr. Neen, the Think it, Do It! Queen." She has taken her passion for helping others and entrepreneurship, and founded VisionFocus, a business training and life-balance education company that empowers women to follow her lead in becoming self-sustaining, social entrepreneurs. "My vision is to help 100,000 women business owners in the United States to manifest their mission," she says.
Craft earned her bachelor's degree at UCLA in psychobiology, and then attended two years of medical school there, pursuing a doctoral degree in psychiatry. She felt uncomfortable by the idea of medicating patients in order to make them function "normally." "What I really wanted to do was to just help women tweak their lives, so they could fulfill their purpose on this planet," she says. Craft left the traditional medical education to take up study in a field termed "human potential" and received a doctorate in metaphysics from a seminary.
"This started my foray into the world of social services," she says.
Craft founded a non-profit organization, the International Empowerment Education Foundation, with an aim at empowering women and youth. To learn more about how to manage the organization, she earned an MBA from Pepperdine University.
Since then, Craft has developed her "Think it, Do it!" interactive programs, which are delivered live or virtually in multimedia format. The aim of the programs is to empower women in shelters to rise above their circumstances.
"I believe people should have total access to their unlimited self," she says. "We help them erase self doubt, and monetize this meaningful message as they make money to make a difference."
The idea is that the women Craft empowers will create products that will be featured on a Web marketplace called the "Manifesting Mavens Mall." Based on the concept, Craft has authored several books, served as an international speaker, television and radio guest, and trained hundreds of women.
Craft was recently honored as an Entrepreneur of Distinction by the Orange County Institute for Women (OCIWE.org), after being nominated by the State Board of Equalization for her outstanding business leadership. She was also honored by members of Congress, California Governor Schwarzenegger, members of the California State Assembly and the State Senate, as well as the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
Craft continues to create new initiatives including the Youth Empowerment Network and the Women’s Peace Campaign (WPC) www.WomensPeace.com. The WPC’s adopt-a-shelter project and the S.M.I.L.E. (Single Mom International Leadership Empowerment) initiative, provide pregnant teens and single moms in shelters with successful single moms as mentors, as well as Craft's self-coaching books and trainings.
"It's all about fulfilling your purpose and empowering others in the process," she says. "I chose to empower women who became homeless due to their man having a violent outburst that they had to flee from. I wrote books for the women in domestic violence shelters so they could transition back into the mainstream with dignity and strength. It is important to be continually reminding people they are valued."
In essence, Craft is still doling out advice like Lucy, only not at a lemonade stand, but often via the Internet instead. "I spend a lot of time on the Internet, connecting with people, researching what people need and want and filling those gaps for them. The Internet is an amazing power. It also reminds me how connected we all are."
The connection that she feels among the women her company touches is what keeps her coming up with new ways to help others. "I make sure I adopt what I call 'Gracitude,' a gracious attitude of gratitude. I am grateful for everything that happens because it is either a manifestation of my intention or it is a blessing in disguise."
Click here to learn more about social entrepreneurship programs at the Pepperdine University Graziadio School of Business and Management.