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.
Rescued Fruit to Fruitpops
The Kamloops Food Policy Council (KFPC) has been pollinating projects, developing partnerships, and contributing to public policy since 1995. Their Gleaning Abundance Program brings people together to help harvest our local abundance of fruit and vegetables and share it with the greater community. Produce that might have gone to waste becomes a welcome source of fresh food for many who might otherwise go without. About 105,000 lbs of fruit and vegetables have been gleaned since 2013.
“Last summer, KFPC had an abundance of fruit with service groups saying they couldn’t handle more fruit donations from the gleaning program, so we took action and did something about it,” says Greg Unger, KFPC’s Social Enterprise Coordinator. An idea hatched to process some of excess fruit and turn it into granola bars to provide nourishment to groups like the Boys and Girls Club. Processing reduces waste and extends the life of the fruit. This is essential in a nation where more than half of the food produced is lost or wasted and 4 million Canadians, including 1.4 million children, struggle to access healthy food (CBC).
Purppl EIRs, Mitchell Forgie and Linda McGrew, supported the team at KFPC to go through a customer discovery process to learn if there was a sustainable way to glean and process fruit, turn it into granola bars, and deliver them to the community. It was quickly clear this would not work. The process led the KFPC team to test a different product; frozen fruitpops. Before moving forward, the team went through an exercise called Theory of Change the help them understand how social enterprise fits in their desired impact of creating a regenerative, local, sovereign, and just food system.
Popcycle Fruitpops was seeded and production, packaging, and distribution has been tested. A sustainable financial model has been developed and is growing. KFPC is also testing collaborations with local cideries and breweries to create a special batch with gleaned fruit. Greg says:
Here’s how Popcycle works:
- Kamloops revels in an abundance of fruit during the summer
- Volunteers with the Gleaning Abundance Program pick some of this fruit
- The pickings are shared with the tree owners, volunteers, and community agencies
- Sometimes there is so much fruit all at once that the KFPC makes it into delicious fruitpops
- Fruitpop sales cycle back into the programs that Kamloops Food Policy Council runs
The team is testing out different sales channels for the Popcycle Fruitpops. You can purchase them for your next event, party, or just to put in your freezer. If you are a retailer or hosting events, you can also help by selling on behalf of KFP. Contact Greg directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.