A Community-Minded Social Enterprise: An Inquiry for Viability

About

The Corner Brook Status of Women Council is a not-for-profit organization that has been established in Corner Brook, NL since 1974. It has a reputation for community development and leadership because it believes it is responsible to and must be responsive to the larger community. It operates the Corner Brook Women’s Centre, Vesta Place Supportive Housing and supports other community initiatives such as Pride and Camp Ohana. We are governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. It’s mandate is “to help improve the status of women”. We do this work through providing direct services, information and referral, community leadership and advocacy for women and families.

This project will explore the conditions necessary for the success of a social enterprise in the Crestview area of Corner Brook. The Crestview area of Corner Brook is mainly comprised of individuals and families living in subsidized housing provided by Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation (NLHC). The Corner Brook Status of Women Council has put forward a proposal to NLHC to repurpose one of the vacant buildings in the area. It will include supportive housing units, as well as space for a social enterprise. Social enterprises are innovative businesses that boost the well-being of communities through the sale of goods or services, while advancing social goals. It provides an opportunity to diversify economic production.

This project will help us engage the local community to determine the direction of the social enterprise. Social enterprises have been identified by the provincial government as an innovative means of increasing the well-being of the community through economic development that also furthers social, cultural or environmental goals. It is, in essence, a hybrid model that has both economic and social domains. Our social enterprise will be a business utilized and supported by those living in the area. We also hope to employ some local individuals who may have faced barriers to employment. This area has a higher than average unemployment rate and may face barriers that include low literacy levels, poverty, lack of transportation, episodic homelessness, childhood trauma, addiction, mental health concerns and more. We wish to create a supportive employment environment that will provide skills and training for individuals to be successful in the workforce while also contributing to sales and financial stability for our organization. This dual focus is central to our project which seeks to research the appropriate type of business for the community as well as the local barriers to employment. This we hope will lead us in the development of a successful business plan as well as employee skill building to help those employed remain employed and experience ongoing success and growth. If determined to be a viable option, the profits from the social enterprise may help to provide funding for events, programs and activities of the Corner Brook Status of Women Council and assist with long term sustainability of the organization. This would be seen as a possible long term outcome of this project.

Vine Place Community Centre (VPCC) is situated in the Crestview area and has established relationships within the neighbourhood. They will help us to engage the community to voice their needs, concerns and opinions so that the best possible business options for success are solicited. This partnership seeks to ensure that time is taken to understand the local needs and how they might best be addressed as well. In addition, the project coordinator will work with VPCC ‘s Community Employment Facilitator to develop skill-building workshops that will engage and maintain employability for those living in the area.

 

Primary Research Objectives(s)

The research question is “What elements must be considered for the viability of a social enterprise in the Crestview area? This will consider the type of business that may be supported by local residents, the difficulty in establishing the business, and the longer term viability. In addition, it will consider the types of employment that may be generated and employability needs of the residents of the area so that this project can employ some local individuals. This will consider how these barriers may be addressed to provide the best opportunity for success for the present and the future.

 

Who

Research led by the Corner Brook Status of Women Council.

Where

Corner Brook, NL

When

2019 – 2021