My father passed away when I was 6 years old. My two younger brothers and I were raised by a single mother, with an income below the poverty level. We didn’t realize it, though! From a young age, Mom introduced us to commerce and the ability to create and provide value to others. We baked banana breads and sold them door-to-door. We harvested and sold pecans at road-side stands. Commerce and the support of our community of friends and family was the key to enabling her to provide for us.
As a teenager, I discovered the Open Web. I was able to connect with others like me (and very different from me) around the world. WordPress and the Open Web gave me the privilege of creating value for a wider audience. I built my career on it, provided for my own family, and have watched many others do the same.
Whether physical goods, virtual goods, services, or information, commerce is a great way to create and share value with others.
Commerce on the Open Web offers opportunity that wasn’t possible before. Where the value an individual creates and offers may have limited interest in their local community, they can often find interest in a global community made accessible through the Open Web.
Our mission at WooCommerce is to “Democratize Commerce.”
Democratizing commerce means making it accessible to all, regardless of income, technical capability, language, geography, gender, or age.
It starts with Community
WooCommerce is imperfect. As amazing as it is, there’s still work to be done, especially compared to the heavily funded, profit-driven alternatives available today. WooCommerce is built on WordPress, though, and is aligned with the values of the Open Web.
And WooCommerce has something the profit-focused alternatives don’t have, a Community that believes in democratization.
When I first started in the WordPress ecosystem, it was the Community that embraced me, that inspired me, that answered my questions, and empowered me to create.
And in WooCommerce meetups and communities the world over, it’s the same. People are investing their time and energy as volunteers to inspire fellow entrepreneurs and to empower them to share their value on the Open Web.
I’m now a part of the WooCommerce team (we’re hiring!) and my work is to support and grow the WooCommerce Community.
Over the past few months I’ve been meeting with Community organizers around the world and learning more about the unique needs and opportunities of each local community.
An important thread in the conversations has been becoming clear on our values as a Community. Values enable us to find where we’re aligned as individuals (and where we’re not) and determine what we do and don’t do as a Community.
As I see it today, there are three ideas that stand out most clearly to me as Community values on the path to democratizing commerce:
- Inspire – As Community organizers and participants, we have the opportunity to inspire each other with what’s possible. Through stories, through ideas, and through examples we can offer hope and inspiration to entrepreneurs.
- Empower – As people are inspired, we can educate them, equip them with tools, and connect them with the resources to move from inspiration to action.
- Include – We can work continuously to build a diverse base of organizers that enables us to connect with all the world, in their language, in their region, at their level of capability.
Democratization is, by its very nature, not a work for any small group. Yes, it starts small and we’re still small today, but not for long.
If democratizing commerce is important to you, if inspiring others to share their value on the Open Web is meaningful to you, if empowering others to take action, if including all people matters to you, join me.