Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Brenda Wells, President and Executive Director of i-5 Freedom Network, located in San Clemente, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

As a nonprofit, our mission is to disrupt the cycle of human trafficking through education and advocacy. We serve survivors of human trafficking on their path to restoration, along with community leaders and businesses ready to take informed action to end this crime of greed and exploitation.

Tell us about yourself

I started down this path once I learned how local the problem was. First, my heart was broken for those who suffered due to this crime. Then I got angry at those who would do this unspeakable harm to others. I was motivated to mobilize the community and businesses that truly care about doing something. As a result, we created training for hotels and community awareness events to learn more so they can do more.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Our biggest accomplishment is being able to engage survivors as independent contractors to facilitate many of these training and education events. The first-person narrative and insights they bring are beyond powerful, along with providing the platform to turn this trauma into training and education for the community.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

As a nonprofit, definitely finding funding. The only way we can do this is with the generosity of dollars and the spirit of our donors and supporters. Those who believe in what we are doing are truly giving for Good as donors (to any nonprofit) receive no benefit other than the peace of mind that we are doing this important work on their behalf. Every dollar we have to execute our mission was given to us by a person or an organization who believes in what we do and how we do it.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

As a nonprofit:

  1. Do your research. Make sure there is not another organization already doing what you hope to accomplish.
  2. Build an excellent Board! They are the key to your success.
  3. Be crystal clear on your Vision and laser-focused on your mission. This is what speaks to donors, who are your primary support of the business.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Non-profit is tough work, but always a work of commitment and passion that is unlike any other business. It is similar to birthing a child: You will sacrifice just about anything (family, money, free time) to see it grow into the marvelous being you know it can be. Sometimes it goes just like you want it to; sometimes, therapy is required :-)

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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