Social Enterprises Tackle Tough Challenges in Kamloops

In the last 12 months the Kamloops Food Policy Council, the Lived Experience Committee, and the Kamloops Music Collective have launched and scaled their social enterprise activities.

The idea of social enterprise is to use entrepreneurship to help put sustainable, long term solutions in place to community, social, and environmental challenges. This is a global trend capturing the interest of people from all walks of life who are seeking to build a more regenerative economy and healthy communities; one third of all startups globally now have social impact embedded into their core mission and activities.

The City of Kamloops took a risk last year to help three local social enterprises participate in a social enterprise acceleration program where they are paired up with Purppl’s local entrepreneurs-in-residence (EIRs) who provide long-term entrepreneurial coaching. The results are starting to show.


Music Collective Sings a Social Enterprise Song

Launched in 1978, Kamloops Music Collective (KMC) was a social enterprise before social enterprise was even a concept. At launch, it was a summer camp where children learned how to play music. Parents registered their children to attend while KMC organized facilities, instruments, and teachers into an awesome experience for the kids.

KMC now uses funds generated by the summer camp to create other impactful initiatives like Band Together in collaboration with School District 73 and their Whole Note program, which supports restricted youth in their pursuit of music education.

KMC enables children to learn and find their tribe while providing emerging musicians the ability to hone their skills, learn to lead, and teach. Why? Music helps build a child’s confidence and helps to secure demand for arts programming within the school district. KMC kids are the next generation of audience, performers, teachers, and leaders in Kamloops. Dozens of KMC grads have gone on to take on these roles within Kamloops. This helps to create a strong local arts economy and ecosystem.


“Our boys have been privileged to be a part of this amazing experience. The staff and mentors are passionate, dedicated and fun, bringing out the best in every camper. We are from Merritt and KISSM arranged for the boys to be billeted by wonderful families who also enriched their time and made them feel like they were part of a family while away from home. Over the last 5 years they have had a blast while developing interpersonal skills, musical talent, confidence in themselves and in their ability to work in a team. They have discovered they can do things they never thought possible and have made lifelong friendships.Truly the highlight of their summer! I know KISSM will always have a special place in their hearts. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for this priceless, precious gift!”

– Happy Kamloops Music Collective Parent


In 2018, after a decade of hard work and growth, the organization and their Executive Director, Kim Mangan, had hit max capacity to deliver programs under the current staff and revenue model. While the community demanded and desired more music programming, the organization couldn’t squeeze more out of it’s staff and volunteers.

Purppl got to work with KMC to explore growth options while Kim took a risk and hired a new full time employee, Megan, to help. There was a short window to cover the additional salary expense. Here are some of the results:

  • A new Spring Break camp was launched. In a week, 33 children, including four restricted income youth, received 1,155 hours of performing arts education and closed the week with a concert complete with lights, sound, costumes, and props.
  • A new fundraiser was launched and while successful in raising the profile and funds, the KMC team decided they will not run it again next year.
  • Sales and marketing improved, enabling the KMC team to explore growth of the summer camp into new communities.
  • Corporate partners like Lee’s Music are now working together with KMC to expand the programs and the local music / arts ecosystem.
  • Community partners are working with KMC to help propel growth. A refreshed relationship with the school board has resulted in predictable access to space for KMC to grow their summer camp. KMC has also expanded band programming from one SD73 school in 2018 to three in 2019.
  • 10% growth in children signed up for the summer school of music from 2017 to 2018.
  • 30% growth in annual budget from 2018/2018 to 2018/2019.

What can’t easily be demonstrated is the change in mindset and skills that Kim and Megan both feel. With the support of their EIRs from Purppl, Dan Rink and Linda McGrew, Kim and Megan have built confidence in their social enterprise that will drive growth of their sustainable revenue model and sustainable impact model.

Kamloops Music Collective wants to see more kids participate in music in Kamloops. They are on their way to making it happen collaboratively and sustainably. “We’re building a movement” says Kim. Are you in?


Building an Ecosystem to Support Social Entrepreneurs

The City of Kamloops took a risk on shifting their funding and support model for the social sector in Kamloops. It was a courageous decision which is showing some early, positive results.

Local entrepreneurs in Kamloops quickly jumped in to join Purppl’s team as Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs) to help the local social enterprises. Jonathan Bowers, Dan Rink, and Mitchell Forgie each took a lead role. They were supported by existing EIRs like Linda McGrew and the Purppl staff team, Amanda Loewen and Andrew Greer. Kamloops Innovation also jumped in, and continues to support Purppl’s operations and activities in Kamloops. They provide access to space alongside the high quality network of people in the innovation ecosystem.


Jonathan Bowers is the founder at Two Story Robot which helps create modern web technology for its diverse customers. He’s started and participated in several startups. Jonathan was instrumental in bringing Startup Weekend to Kamloops and deeply understands lean startup methodology. Dan Rink is the CEO at iTel, his fifth startup, which now has 100+ employees. He’s been building technology solutions since he was 14 years old and really understands how to launch and scale companies. He’s also a co-founder at Kamloops Innovation, a non-profit society which accelerates tech-based startups. Mitchell Forgie is the co-owner and operator of Red Beard Cafe and Moustache and Go, he’s involved in many food initiatives in the community. He’s also actively involved in BrewLoops as well as a passionate author who has written on fiscal policy to support more inclusive cities.


Each of the social enterprises joined Purppl’s Scale Up social enterprise acceleration program. In pairs, teams of EIRs met on a regular basis with the social enterprises to help coach, educate, and connect. It is a long term coaching model, not consulting, to help build capacity in the leadership teams of local social enterprises.

Purppl runs quarterly Sip and Social events which are a low-barrier meetup for social entrepreneurs. Anyone interested in social entrepreneurship can come to connect with other like-minded people who share an interest in using entrepreneurship to help solve community, social, and environmental challenges.

In addition, Purppl, will bring ChangeUP to Kamloops this fall. ChangeUP is a pitch style event for local social enterprises to share their story with the community. Community members can come and listen and learn about sustainable business models that power sustainable social impact in our communities. The event has run successfully in Kelowna for the last five years and will launch in Kamloops in fall 2019.

Kamloops Food Policy Council, Kamloops Music Collective, and The Big Edition are three great examples of social enterprise leadership in Kamloops. Many other social entrepreneurs and community organizations are also powering change in the community. Other examples include:

  • The Station on Tranquille, a partnership with United Way, TRU, and local developers
  • ASK Wellness’s matress recycling social enterprise
  • Kamloops Film Society will operate the Paramount Theatre as a social enterprise
  • Big Brothers and Sisters of Southern and Central Interior restarted social enterprise operations and program delivery in Kamloops in 2018

There is a social enterprise movement building locally and globally. Social enterprise is a model that will continue to drive growth in an inclusive, sustainable Kamloops for many years to come.

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