Doing Business Differently in Calgary

Entrepreneurs in Calgary are changing what it means to do business by innovating for the common good while growing a healthy profit. This includes, investing in people and places by paying a Living Wage and hiring locally, purchasing from fellow local businesses, providing valuable social benefit and supporting the community in general. Doing business differently is an essential part of Calgary’s poverty reduction strategy, Enough For All.

Enough for All is as multi-faceted and diverse as the experience of living in poverty. There is no one solution that will meaningfully and sustainably reduce poverty in Calgary, but instead a whole suite of solutions, when implemented together, can have a wide-ranging and lasting impact on poverty rates. Entrepreneurs are an integral part of the solution to meaningfully and sustainably reduce poverty in Calgary by adopting inclusive business practices.

As part of Enough For All, a cohort** of stakeholders came together to understand how they each support social entrepreneurship in Calgary. Working collectively, the cohort met in depth with nine social ventures and interviewed three others. The intent was to understand the wider social entrepreneurship support system in Calgary while seeking to strengthen the supports available to local social entrepreneurs.

The cohort would like to both thank and celebrate these 14 social ventures, not only for their efforts to do business differently, but in helping us to better understand and, ultimately, better serve organizations dedicated to such a lofty and crucial goal. They include:

  • DIG specializes in events and festivals saving companies time and money by keeping their event sites clean, improving their environmental reputation, and engaging audiences through fun and unique initiatives.
  • Evergreen Theatre is a theatre company that uses the arts to connect, inspire and empower their audience with science and the natural world. At Evergreen Community Spaces they provide affordable office, rehearsal and performance space to local artists.
  • The Calgary Tool Library lends high quality residential tools to community members saving people money, minimizing the need for personal consumption and reducing waste while building community one tool at a time. They offer DIY workshops to build skills and knowledge with one another.
  • Alora Boutique creates handcrafted jewelry from recycled materials. A portion of each purchase helps to empower disadvantaged women and children to rise above poverty.
  • The Alberta Solar Coop is the first community owned renewable energy project in Alberta. The coop provides everyday people with direct investment access to renewable energy projects. This is a unique and timely initiative that empowers individuals and communities to participate in wealth and energy generation for all Albertans.
  • Hop Compost is an inner city commercial composting facility that helps local restaurants achieve zero waste. They use state of the art composting technology to turn food waste into a nutrient dense organic fertilizer, diverting waste from the landfill and strengthening local agriculture.
  • The Aging in Place Coop supports seniors to age in place. They offer two levels of membership to cater to diverse needs. This includes member services such as house cleaning, handy persons, snow removal and lawn care. The second membership level provides home renovation services to improve accessibility as people age, secondary suite development and property management.
  • EthniCity Catering provides workplace experience and training for newcomers to Canada through catering services that offer an array of delicious dishes from around the world. Every food order makes a difference by providing life skills, food industry training and a sense of belonging for immigrants transitioning to Calgary.
  • FrogskinU teaches kids how to be savvy consumers and money smart. They teach youth as young as nine, in both school and community settings, financial literacy skills to develop healthy, lifelong habits. FrogskinU is the fun way to learn serious stuff about money!

These social ventures completed the survey:



**The cohort of stakeholders include Vibrant Communities Calgary; Innovate Calgary; Ambrose University; Thrive; Trico Charitable Foundation; the Chiu School of Business at Bow Valley College; and the Institute for Community Prosperity at Mount Royal University.

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