Project Aims To Keep Employment And Businesses In Local Communities

January 13, 2021

Initiative Will Enable Social Purpose Organizations To Convert Existing Businesses Into Social Enterprises

VANCOUVER ISLAND – A recently approved Business Legacies Incubator project will help hold local businesses and jobs in communities, thanks to funding through the Island Coastal Economic Trust’s (ICET) Economic Infrastructure and Innovation Program (EIIP).

Scale Institute Society is pioneering a project designed to create opportunities for small businesses that are for sale, or at risk of closure, to be acquired and converted into social enterprises, keeping employment, business and non-profits in smaller and rural communities. Through a business incubator model, the initiative will develop and provide materials, resources and training to enable Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs) to better understand the opportunities in transitioning from business ownership to non-profit ownership.

“This project highlights the significance of small businesses and non-profits to our local economies and addresses the fundamental financial challenges they have been facing through the pandemic,” says ICET Chair Aaron Stone. “Supporting a business acquisition incubator is a timely and innovative way to convert the oncoming wave of small business succession into social enterprise models that will strengthen non-profit financial sustainability and continue to benefit our communities.”

The initiative builds on two years of Scale Institute Society’s research in partnership with Royal Roads University, a National Legacies Leadership Lab and four Community Futures organizations, including three in the ICET region. Community-based businesses that meet the criteria for community acquisition will be identified before piloting a business acquisition incubator.

Kristi Fairholm-Mader

“The incubator will target Island and Coastal social purpose organizations ready to explore business acquisition opportunities,” said Kristi Fairholm-Mader, Managing Director of Scale Institute Society.  “The materials and tools developed will also be available for integration into other organizations’ programs and resources, creating an opportunity to scale this new model to a broader audience.”

There are several other benefits to acquiring businesses as community acquisitions, aside from keeping local businesses and jobs in communities. The project will also support the growth of social enterprise, as it further holds the supply chain and offers indirect benefits to the community. The increased revenue streams and sustainability for SPOs will maintain strong community support networks and further raise awareness of the potential for other community acquisitions.

“Social enterprises are investments that build strong, resilient communities,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Supporting Social Purpose Organizations in transitioning to non-profit business models will create more local opportunities for meaningful and sustainable employment which is a key priority of BC’s poverty reduction strategy.”

The project is funded from the Innovation Support stream of the Economic Infrastructure and Innovation Program (EIIP), designed to encourage programs and services which pioneer new approaches that support economic innovation and adaptation in the ICET region. ICET will contribute $47,500 to the project’s overall $147,500 cost. The project is expected to get underway shortly.




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