Abbotsford Recycling Industries Social Enterprise (ARISE) is the project that inspired our drive to champion the development of a completely separate legal structure for social enterprise in Canada.
With corporate and non-profit organizations at the ownership table, ARISE is a true triple-bottom line enterprise concept. The goal is to melt and recast recycled glass into beautiful glass bathtubs, sinks, and wall blocks. Wherever possible, the marginalized and hard-to-employ will be offered employment opportunities, with relevant personal financial budgeting and socialization components offered to employees as well.
ARISE awaits funding from a supportive and patient investor, and an enabling business structure that will allow for authentic ownership and governance by charities, corporations, and non-profits.
Fostered by Western Economic Development seed funding supported by CFSF, the Abbotsford Discovery Trail is a paved 35-km trail designed for the enjoyment of all Abbotsfordians, young and old alike.
The trail connects the west and east ends of the City.
Business Environmental Pledge Program (BEPP)
A concept championed by the Fraser Basin Council, the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce, and CFSF before its time, BEPP sought to educate and incent local business owners to operate more sustainably, and with greater intention towards environmental impacts.
The concept was for businesses to 'pledge' to undertake actions that would benefit the ecosystem. Pledged businesses were recognized in a number of ways, including regular exposure in local media. At project close, 45 businesses from many different sectors had taken the BEPP pledge.
Development Wheel sessions for social enterprise
Operating within CFSF, the BC Centre for Social Enterprise was delighted to participate in the Development Wheel project, funded by the Rural Secretariat, and championed by the Centre for Community Enterprise.
This project adapted a curriculum originally intended for First Nations community development, and modelled a new way to understand and implement social enterprise development. As the only regional intermediary involved in the project, the Centre was able to witness firsthand the positive effects that the introduction of this curriculum had on community-based organizations undertaking social enterprise development.
Designed as a way to engage youth in entrepreneurship, the E-Challenge was a reality game targeted at Abbotsford secondary school students.
Each team of students was given a business scenario, with related challenges to be surmounted. The teams met with accountants, lawyers, realtors, and other business professionals to 'solve' the challenges, reconvening at the end of the day to report back to all business teams... and to receive prizes, or course!
Starting in 2006, a steering group consisting of the Abbotsford Community Foundation, CFSF, and the United Way of the Fraser Valley, and advised by a broader group of community representatives has been leading a local Imagine Abbotsford dialogue series, echoing the Imagine BC concept as convened by SFU's Wosk Centre for Dialogue and covered by CBC Radio.
Each year galvanises around a theme (2006 Economy and Ecology, 2007 Learning and Culture, 2008 Health and Community), and organizes around three separate dialogues each year (Thought Leaders, Community Forum, Policy Makers), culminating in the publication of the findings in the Abbotsford News.
Stemming from the results of the Inmate Self-Employment Mentorship Study (below), CFSF staff galvanized support from the Cooperative Development Initiative to develop an arts marketing cooperative owned by inmates and intended to market their glass and wood works.
Before project funding ended, the co-op successfully developed governance systems, an e-commerce website, and participated at the Circle Craft Christmas Craft Show (the largest retail craft show in Western Canada). Currently, the co-op is in hibernation, awaiting a more enabling Corrections environment, and an operations funding stream. A community-based Board continues to nurture this fragile non-profit cooperative.
Inmate Self-Employment Mentorship Feasibility Study
Struck by the fact that nine out of ten federal penitentiaries are located within the Fraser Valley, CFSF staff, with funding from Western Economic Diversification, set out to determine whether it was feasible to introduce self-employment capacity building initiatives into the Pacific Region correctional system.
This 2003 study formed the basis of the introduction of entrepreneurship workshops into five federal institutions (along with related curriculum design), the creation of InsideArt Cooperative, the design of the Inmate-Operated Business federal standing order (Correctional regulations), and the current exploration into housing and training needs for inmates transitioning into the community.
Reliable Business Outsourcing
Reliable Business Outsourcing addresses the skills shortages facing business today by supplying expertise on a contract basis, from a pool of self-employed individuals with multiple health barriers.
The team of seasoned Reliable contractors, who have chosen self-employment for life style balance and wellness, offer a range of services including accounting, research, web development, copy-writing and editing, graphic design, translation, IT services and software development.
Voices in the Valley Community Scan
In late 2005, CFSF undertook a comprehensive economic, environmental, and social scan of Abbotsford and Chilliwack, as a means to 'check the pulse' of the communities while exploring the potential for integrated community development services specific to emerging local challenges.
This document has been used extensively by local community economic developers as a snapshot of the socio-economic strengths and weaknesses related to the region.
Venturing to the Extreme Entrepreneur Leadership Camp
In 2002, thirteen Abbotsford youth participated in the Venturing to the Extreme Entrepreneur Leadership camp at the West Coast Wilderness Lodge in Egmont, BC. They joined 47 participants from rural BC for six days, to create new business ideas, a personal vision for themselves, and memories that will last a lifetime.
The participants were led through the basic steps of business start-up, creative leadership training, and challenging outdoor activities such as rock climbing, kayaking, and ropes-course orienteering. The camp facilitators, Hugh Culver and Martyn Williams, inspired participants with stories of their Antarctic adventures and South Pole blunders.
A once active presence at the Vibrant Abbotsford Leadership Table and founding member, CFSF has been proud to participate in the community effort to reduce poverty locally.
Vibrant Abbotsford's focus areas and strategies include making positive, measurable, and sustainable impacts on poverty for all citizens of Abbotsford; embracing the efficiencies to be gained from 'exploding' silos, through information sharing, and collaborative efforts; and learning and growing with others who are dedicated to working creatively, and engaging the community in poverty reduction efforts and increased community vibrancy.