1. What is your background and how did you get involved in starting a social enterprise?
Over the last 11 years I’ve worked in the not for profit sector for various government and non-governmental agencies in Canada as a child and youth care counsellor and in employment services. In 2007 I founded the Passion Foundation with the goal of providing life-enhancing programming for young women in need across Canada and internationally. In the last few years of working locally and overseas, I saw the need for young women to be supported in all areas of their lives including education and employment.
Being a mentor for Young Women in Business SFU I learned more about social enterprises and decided that this would be a great way to take my ambitions and move them into a holistic approach to providing quality services for young women.There is a movement in our world to create stronger community and socially responsible businesses. Social enterprises do just that. They take the same business model that makes this world turn and incorporate deep social values. If you have a model that works, it’s an amazing way for a nonprofit to become sustainable.
2. As a social enterprise startup what are the top three challenges you are facing? (ex. funding, X, X)
Three top challenges would include getting the right business expertise to make the plan solid, doing the research on the viability of your venture, and soliciting the financial support to get started.
3. How are you solving these challenges?
We are being as creative and efficient as possible to move this social enterprise along. Currently, I have three amazing Young Women in Business (YWiB) members assisting with the feasibly study; I have a strong network of knowledgeable people that I’ve surrounded myself with over the last five years who are generous enough to share their wisdom and expertise, and a board that has a background in business and finance.
The process has been humbling and exciting. We have a long year ahead with a lot of steps to move through, but I am confident that we can have something quite successful.
4. Have social enterprise information catalysts been part of your start-up journey? If so, who are they and how are they helping you?
I’ve had the privilege of sitting down with David LePage of Enterprising Non Profits (enp) to ask some questions and have recently registered for their orientation. My goal is to gather as much information as I possibly can, apply for a grant through enp in hopes of landing some support to help with creating a solid business plan to attract financial support for start up.
5. Why a social enterprise?
I made the choice to embark in creating a social enterprise not just to support young women and my nonprofit but also as a way to leave a legacy for my grandfather. He had a dream that someone in the family would create a place where people could come together for great food, to celebrate life and community. Marrying my mission for the Passion Foundation and my passion for family, we are in the process of creating Giovanni’s Passion. It’s an opportunity for young women to gain valuable work experience and training, support from mentor coaches for life balance, and a place where people can convene for traditional pastries, raw desserts, fantastic customer service, and a stylish home-like environment.
Jay Carvalho is an entrepreneur, chief tactician at Indochino Apparel Inc. and founder of the Canadian Social Entrepreneurship Foundation.