Senior social enterprise representatives from the Government of Scotland, British Council and Community Enterprise in Scotland visited Nova Scotia on March 7th and 8th to develop business opportunities, share best practices and create relationships that will lead to greater collaboration on a growing relationship with Nova Scotia social enterprises.
We had the opportunity to speak with David Farmer (Senior Manager of Community and Business Development at the Breton Ability Centre) in regards to their recent Buy Social Canada certification. Breton Ability Centre (BAC) is a dynamic organization that is committed to providing quality services and supports to people of varying disabilities.
For over 30 years Building Future Employment Society (FUTURES) has been offering quality products and services to the public while simultaneously creating a positive impact in the community. The society has a distinct and valuable role to play in helping to create a strong, sustainable and socially inclusive society while also helping to grow the economy.
We spoke to Francis Robichaud, Executive Director of CACL Clare Branch, a dual service provider that operates l’Atelier de Clare, an Adult Service Centre and personal development organization for persons living with disabilities, about their amazing organization in Clare, Nova Scotia, and their new Buy Social supplier certification. L'Atelier de Clare provides training and personal development programs for 35 members of the community and surrounding areas in a bilingual environment.
The year 2015 has been filled with a lot of almost-happened and coming-soons in Nova Scotia. Although we talk about change and we feel it in the air, it has yet to touch the ground in any meaningful way.
Two things that I have to get off my chest right off the bat:
Today we talked to Erika Shea, Communications Director of New Dawn Enterprises. New Dawn is a not for profit social enterprise located in Sydney, NS that has been around since 1976! In 2016 they will celebrate their 40th anniversary. New Dawn is the epitome of social enterprise success in Nova Scotia; it’s regularly quoted by practitioners and educators as a model to strive towards and is considered one of the first social enterprises in this area!
Stone Hearth Bakery is a kosher bakery in Halifax that has been operating since 1982 - making it more than 30 years old. Stone Hearth boasts the only kosher bakery products east of Montreal, and provides bread to Ace Burger, Brooklyn Warehouse, Pete’s Frootique, Shannex and Sobeys, among others. You may have seen their herb stuffing mix at Thanksgiving, which was completed in collaboration with fellow Buy Social members Common Roots Urban Farm, for Pete’s Frootique. It was “flying off the shelves”, says Bakery manager John Hartling.Stone Hearth Bakery is a kosher bakery in Halifax that has been operating since 1982 - making it more than 30 years old. Stone Hearth boasts the only kosher bakery products east of Montreal, and provides bread to Ace Burger, Brooklyn Warehouse, Pete’s Frootique, Shannex and Sobeys, among others. You may have seen their herb stuffing mix at Thanksgiving, which was completed in collaboration with fellow Buy Social members Common Roots Urban Farm, for Pete’s Frootique. It was “flying off the shelves”, says Bakery manager John Hartling.
We spoke with Guy Shaham about his new start-up, BuyMyLemonade.com, his partnership with Junior Achievement Nova Scotia, Autism NS’s Promise of a Pearl, and on becoming the first Buy Social Purchaser in Atlantic Canada. The company BuyMyLemonade.com was founded by CEO Guy Shaham and Chief IT Officer Isaac Moscovich to teach entrepreneurship through social fundraising activities. It’s a similar model as the neighbourhood lemonade stand, but online.
Guy just took part in Propel ICT Demo Day at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, where he pitched his idea and secured the company’s first investment. Guy is confident that his idea will revolutionize student fundraising models, while focusing on the students and their interests, as well as developing their knowledge and experience with entrepreneurship, business and online trade.
So what exactly is Buy My Lemonade? Guy gave us the pitch:
“Think of it like this: when kids sell chocolate bars and cookies from door-to-door or at kiosks, we call them fundraisers. But when adults do it, it’s called entrepreneurship. Why can’t it be the same for kids? We think it can be.”
In order to raise money for their particular cause, whether that is a new playground, or a class trip, students learn about and use eCommerce through BuyMyLemonade.com to help fundraise for the causes they care about. Students log into an online platform hosted by their school, and can post their own inventory of products like their art and craft, used video games or books and other pre-approved products and services they wish to sell in order to raise money.
“School fundraising as it currently stands,” says Guy, “is complicated, potentially dangerous when it includes contacting strangers, and in general generates a low return on investment.”
“And, we’re sending kids conflicting messages: that chocolate bars are unhealthy and should be removed from school vending machines and cafeterias, yet that it’s ok to sell these bars for fundraisers to others. We also tell our kids not to talk to strangers but yet, we send them to knock on their doors”.
On BuyMyLemonade.com, kids control what they sell for the fundraiser and what to projects their money goes. These items could range from an old toy or game the child chooses to give away, to a service they wish to sell, like drawing custom animal portraits or making paintings. They will event be able to sell products produced by local artisans and social organizations if they don’t wish to sell their own. The options are only limited to the child’s imagination, with some controls (Parents approval) in place for safety and appropriateness.
Schools will be able to raise more money with less up-front investment, while teaching their kids entrepreneurship and social responsibility. From the student perspective, they’re more engaged in online activities today than door-to-door or in-person.
“Buy My Lemonade wants to leverage that and give them the opportunity to learn about business, be more engaged in fundraising they care about, and be more motivated and connected to the activity,” says Guy.
This brilliant idea has come from years of work in school fundraising. Guy has first-hand experience helping schools fundraise through his previous business, Junk2Gym. Through conversations with schools on this topic, Guy realized what an operational nightmare they had on their hands with traditional fundraisers.
“I’m bringing 9 years of history helping schools fundraise so they would be able to buy my fitness equipment,” says
Guy. “Because schools couldn’t pay for what I was selling, we made an arrangement where they donated “junk” - old and broken equipment and gear - and we would sell the junk to a materials wholesaler for re-use, and make the money needed to buy the schools’ new gym equipment.”
The concept from Junk2Gym translated perfectly to addressing traditional chocolate bar fundraising. From that idea, and through the help of a couple programming courses, BuyMyLemonade.com was born.
BuyMyLemonade.com launches with Junior Achievement Nova Scotia on October 15 to students across Nova Scotia.
Guy is hoping that BuyMyLemonade.com will extend to schools across North America, and start involving social and environmental organizations. For example, they are already working with Autism NS’s Promise of a Pearl to supply jewellery manufactured by their clients to the platform as well. And this is where the Buy Social Canada certification comes into play. BuyMyLemonade.com was just certified as the first Buy Social purchaser in Atlantic Canada.
“I want to benefit from the network Common Good Solutions and Buy Social Canada have across the country,” says Guy. “At the end of the day, we see ourselves as a platform that can really connect. If an organization can produce something that is good for the community, but lack the ability to sell it and/or grow, we bring them a network of youth all across the country who can sell it on their behalf.”
The possibilities are endless. “Our goal,” says Guy, is to convert the estimated 44 million attempted school fundraisers in North America each year into 44 million young entrepreneurs.”
“BuyMyLemonade.com was formed to do well by doing good,” says Guy. “We see a greater good to what we’re doing - we want the school to see us as their platform to increase online education, help schools raise money, and encourage healthier fundraising options. It’s a win-win-win!”
Learn more about BuyMyLemonade.com at: www. BuyMyLemonade.com https://www.facebook.com/BuyMyLemonade
Learn more about Buy Social Canada and it’s efforts to increase social purchasing at: http://buysocialcanada.ca
LakeCity Employment Services Association (LakeCity) is a non-profit organization that provides employment services to individuals living with mental illness. They are centrally located on Windmill Road in Dartmouth--the City of Lakes--but their service is mobile, enabling them to serve clients throughout Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM). LakeCity is dedicated to enabling people with mental illness to improve their quality of life by assisting them to gain independence through work.
LakeCity began in 1972 as the Dartmouth Activity Centre to provide life skills and recreation for clients of mental health services who were reintegrating into the community. They were incorporated under the current name in 1982 and currently employ 35 staff and support 350 people with mental illness.
One of LakeCity’s longest running programs is their LakeCity Woodworkers social enterprise. It was launched as a response to feedback from clients, who identified work as an important means of maintaining their health. Chris Fyles, Executive Director of LakeCity, explains that LakeCity Woodworkers is a place where “individuals can work in a supportive environment at their own pace” as they manufacture a variety of wooden products.
In listing some of their products, he states: “LakeCity Woodworkers produces high quality solid wood furniture. We will also customize our products to suit our customers’ needs. In addition, we manufacture ‘solid wood’ Vinland Wine Racks and are the largest supplier of Survey and Road Stakes in Nova Scotia.”
Fyles acknowledges that it takes a concerted effort to continue to balance an enterprise that is simultaneously generating income and staying true to its social mission, but he maintains that the outcomes are more than worth the effort. “Operating a business is always a challenge and integrating social outcomes doesn’t make it any easier; however, overcoming the challenges increases the satisfaction of our participants’ successes.”
One such participant success story Chris shared with us involved a LakeCity client who was interested in trying bicycle repair and now works at a bike shop part time while he continues to work onsite at the LakeCity shop making furniture. This is an example of LakeCity’s focus on supporting their clients in any employment situation as they develop more independence and integrate more deeply into their communities. Simply put, Fyles states: “We support our participants in job search activities and provide ongoing assistance to keep their job.”
LakeCity Woodworkers also strives to operate with environmental sustainability in mind. Waste wood from their manufacturing is sold to a company which makes pellets for wood stoves, and wood cut-offs are bagged and sold for kindling.
In addition to the Woodworkers enterprise, LakeCity operates provides a flexible suite of other employment support services. This covers the full spectrum of employment services, from goal setting and personal inventory to job search preparation to helping to secure and maintain employment. They use “a client-centred approach that encourages clients to build skills that are necessary to sustain themselves in employment,” says Fyles. LakeCity works with clients throughout their movement toward increased independence, of which employment is a key component. Chris shared with us the story of “a young woman who worked with us for a few months as a receptionist gaining confidence and experience, and then got a job in retail clothing which was where he wanted to be.” This example illustrates LakeCity’s ability to facilitate their clients’ journeys toward attaining their vocational goals.
Why is Buy Social a good fit for LakeCity?
As of September 14, 2015, LakeCity is a newly minted Buy Social Supplier. As a Buy Social supplier, LakeCity operates a retail outlet for furniture produced through the LakeCity Woodworkers enterprise and also sells products from other local social enterprises in their store. Chris is optimistic that becoming a member of Buy Social will help connect more people looking for high quality, socially produced products with LakeCity: “We are hoping that our Buy Social Certification will let more people know about the work that we do and about the beautiful products that we produce.”
Want to know more about LakeCity? Visit them online at: lakecityemployment.com
To learn more about Buy Social, visit: buysocialcanada.ca