Since July 2015 Uniquely Gifted, a social enterprise of The Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network, has been helping entrepreneurs with disabilities bring their products to market. In just over one year they have built a network across Nova Scotia of over 15 suppliers, six of whom are actively selling in the marketplace while the others are moving through the planning and development process, and 10 buyers. We spoke to Sam Kennedy, Business Development Representative for the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network to learn more about Uniquely Gifted and what being Buy Social certified means to them.
The Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network (EDN) has been providing services to entrepreneurs with disabilities for over 20 years. During that time they’ve witnessed big changes in the marketplace, from the movement to online shopping to the growing emphasis organizations are placing on creating social value in their purchasing practices. From these opportunities Uniquely Gifted was born. From greeting cards and jewellery to wood sculpture and picture frames Uniquely Gifted provides consumers with high quality products and a chance to support entrepreneurs with disabilities.
When asked if there were any success stories thus far, Sam noted one in particular. “We had a client who was doing wood sculpture and had access to scrap wood, but wasn’t a part of Uniquely Gifted. One of Uniquely Gifted’s buyers saw a need for reclaimed wood picture frames so we assessed the opportunity, and found that not many suppliers were making them, and those who were had very limited access to materials. We pitched the idea to the client and he was eager to make it happen!” This client now produces over one quarter of all revenue for Uniquely Gifted.
Another unexpected success is the support and willingness from buyers to give feedback on sellers’ products to make them more viable. “Perhaps only one product was initially ready for market, but because we’ve had buyers who are willing to take products on and trial them at their stores we’re now selling over six clients’ products actively in the market, with a total of 20 in development.” says Sam.
As they grow, Uniquely Gifted sees being Buy Social certified as an opportunity to communicate the value they put on truly living their mission, supporting persons with disabilities, while expanding their presence into markets across Canada and working to increase private and public sector purchasing.
Buy Social Canada and Common Good Solutions are excited to welcome Uniquely Gifted to the Buy Social family and can’t wait to watch them grow.