CONTRIBUTED BY THE SACKVILLE BUSINESS ASSOCIATION

Social enterprise is one of those buzzwords that many people don’t completely understand. So what is it? Essentially, it’s when a non-profit or charitable group sells a service or product in order to help sustain their mandate; which typically is improvements in human and environmental well-being.

Some organizations, like the Salvation Army Store at 463 Sackville Drive, were involved in selling goods to support their cause long before the term “social enterprise” was coined. While other organizations, such as Stone Hearth Café at 1000 Sackville Drive, are new in town. And still other organizations have been so successful that they have expanded to meet demand. We’ve seen this recently with the Building Futures Employment Society at 61 Glendale Ave., who has almost completed work on their 6,000 square foot addition.

“We were desperate for space.” Said Marilyn Forrest, executive director for Building Futures Employment Society “The expansion has doubled our original space so now we can start to provide more services to unsupported areas.”

Building Futures, formerly Anchor Industries Society, currently has a waitlist of more than 60 people hoping to participate in their many programs.

“Operating these small businesses allows us to offer support to members of the community with intellectual disability, to provide them with support in the areas of attaining and retaining employment.” said Forrest “All revenue is to the benefit of others.”

As an adult service center Building Futures helps in the process of finding a job, then supports and helps their client to become independent within that position, continuing to provide support as needed. They also provide real work settings with their small businesses: Futures Café, Assembly Plus, The PrintShop and Future Birds Yard Art. Offering their clients real work experience and the developmental benefits of a work-life as well as fostering confidence, independence and boosting self-esteem. They have helped 30 people find paid employment in the community outside of their own businesses.

New to Sackville, Stone Hearth Café is the expansion of the very successful Stone Hearth Bakery operated by MetroWorks. The full service café and catering service opened in January of last year and has already helped five people move onto traditional employment locally. The café was opened to train participants in restaurant operations, baking, food preparation, line cooking, catering, inventory, sales, customer service and kitchen cleaning. Assisting the most marginalized people to overcome barriers and gain the confidence and skills required to obtain meaningful and sustainable employment.

“Social enterprises are innovative solutions to address pressing social issues, especially for those facing barriers to employment. Most non-profit and charitable organizations rely on government funding, corporate and individual donations to maintain program delivery. Revenue generated from social enterprise activities help to diversify revenue sources. In the long run, it lessons the burden on government funding for programs,” said Lesley Dunn, communications and marketing consultant for MetroWorks.

So what can you do to support? While some social enterprises may have registered charity status and could accept support in the form of donations, some may not and would really love for you to “Keep us in mind for work. Utilize our services and become a patron. We have high expectations of quality and are motivated to do good, efficient work to keep us open” said Forrest.

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