The Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI) has just learned it has been approved for funding to conduct a feasibility study for a new social enterprise.
The new business will be a gardening operation and is the brainchild of BACI staff member Steve Sale.
Steve, an avid gardener, approached BACI senior manager of economic and social inclusion Kevin Lusignan several months ago to propose the social enterprise that has flowed from the success of a community garden initiative at BACI spearheaded by a like-minded social service agency, posAbilities. PosAbilities has seen significant success with a community gardening initiative called Can You Dig It?
Kevin notes BACI has 20 years of experience operating social enterprises, which align closely with the agency’s mission around fostering inclusion.
“We look for both social and economic inclusion, and around economic inclusion, employment is a huge piece,” he notes, pointing out employment provides both a chance to participate in an economic system and build social connections.
“Economic inclusion allows a person to participate as a worker, as a consumer and as taxpayer, and that extends into the notion of citizenship,” he adds.
BACI is also well positioned to launch another social enterprise given its in-house expertise around disability-confident policies, procurement policies, communications, finance, information technology and human resources.
Kevin notes the enterprise will also be a way to contribute to local food security as it grows and sells fresh, natural produce, either directly to restaurants, for instance, or by participating in farmers’ markets. There’s also the possibility of donating some produce to local food banks or even amongst BACI’s residential properties.
“So we’re exploring the possibilities, but we do know we have a desire to move forward with this and we’re excited,” says Kevin.
Enterprising Non-profits, which is funding the feasibility study, is a unique collaborative program that promotes and supports social enterprise development and growth as a means to build strong, nonprofit organizations and healthier communities.
The feasibility study will include answering such questions as what will be produced in the garden, and how, as well as identifying the market opportunities.
Following the feasibility study, a business and/or marketing plan may be developed, which will include the need to find appropriate land. Kevin says he’s anticipating that there are likely to be reasonable prospects for land, given BACI’s existing and strong partnerships in the City of Burnaby.
A provisional name for the social enterprise is BACI Hothouses.
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