Do You Have the Heart for Business?

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Read the story of Jane and Scott Wolfe and how they built one of the fastest growing companies in Louisiana, all while increasing literacy in their city.

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A Grassroots Approach to Building a Brand

Jane and Scott Wolfe have started multiple businesses with a purpose beyond simply profit: they wanted to enrich their community. In 1982, as teenagers, the Wolfe’s bought a rundown market in New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward. Wagner’s Meats became a fixture in the neighborhood as the young couple grew their business to ten locations over the next 25 years. Then, Hurricane Katrina destroyed everything they had built.

In their book, From GED to Harvard Then Inc. 500: How Two Teens Went from GEDs to Building the Fastest Growing Business in New Orleans, the Wolfes share the gripping details of their lives spent serving their hometown.

After the hurricane, the Wolfes began again from scratch, creating a construction company to help rebuild their community. They then founded Melba’s PoBoys, which Inc. recognized as the fastest-growing company in Louisiana. GQ called Melba’s one of the best restaurants in the most unexpected places. Their book is written to show entrepreneurs the attitudes that work, how to serve the place you live, and how to thrive after catastrophes.

Jane and Scott are driven to build businesses not just because they hope to succeed, but because they want their community to succeed, too. They wanted to hire and help the single working mothers, the marginalized and hard-working men, and all others in between. “We didn’t have a name for what we did back then,” Jane recalls. “But today you might call it ‘engaged entrepreneurship’ or ‘corporate social responsibility’.”

“Your customer can buy a widget or sandwich or pedicure anywhere. Your employee can get a job to pay the bills anywhere. What they really want, without really knowing it, is meaning,” Scott explains. “And this all starts with looking each other in the eyes. That is why we were able to do what we did.”

From armed robberies to rebuilding in the face of incalculable odds, the Wolfes share the lessons that New Orleans has taught them over the past three decades.

From GED To Harvard Then Inc 500 - Book Cover