Local Business Development

Local businesses play a huge role in developing a strong, sustainable economy. When local businesses pay a living wage, buy from local suppliers and become a part of their neighbourhoods, everyone in the community benefits. It doesn’t matter whether the businesses are cooperatives, owned privately or social enterprises run by nonprofits. If they are connected to the local community, they help build that community and keep it vibrant.

Thrive’s goal is for Calgary to have more

  • locally owned and operated businesses that incorporate community economic development principles into their operations
  • nonprofits that advance their missions through entrepreneurial social enterprises

Are you interested in starting such a business? Do you own one already? Do you work for one? Do you want to figure out how a nonprofit mission can benefit from an entrepreneurial, earned-income strategy? Do you want to spend your dollars at locally owned businesses that reinvest their profits in your community? Do you want to know what’s being done to support local business development?

Join the Thrive network. You’ll learn from others. You’ll be able to share what you know – and what you dream of for your community. And we’ll work together to make it happen.

BluPlanet Recycling

If you are a resident in Calgary, you’ve likely heard about the fairly comprehensive overhaul that the City of Calgary has been doing with Waste and Recycling management. Since February 2016, multi-family buildings are required to provide residents with recycling services, and starting November 1, 2017, food and yard waste services will also become mandatory for the same types of residential buildings.

Landlords and building owners will have the option to decide between service providers, so long as they meet the requirements set forth by the City. With only seven months until the new bylaw comes into effect, it’s a great time to begin considering which company can provide the best service. BluPlanet Recycling, a candidate for the Local Economy Leader Award in REAP’s 2016 Be Local awards, can handle both your waste diversion needs while also being a champion for the environment and the Calgary community.

~1484939283~bpr logo large copy

If you’re looking for a provider that knows the City requirements inside and out, BluPlanet has been instrumental in creating these new bylaws, participating in the process for the last seven years. Their consistent participation has helped create the comprehensive waste management legislation that the City of Calgary is now introducing.

In 2016, they set out to change their business model from being a single service recycling company to offering other waste solutions, including organics. They have specifically designed their services to meet the needs of multi-family residences, by adding garbage collection in order to provide comprehensive waste management. They aim to not just meet City requirements but go above and beyond, achieving the highest waste diversion rates possible. In 2016, they had a goal to divert 2,500 tonnes of materials from Calgary landfills and began offering recycling services for large-volume cardboard, electronics, and fluorescent bulbs, among many other materials.

During a REAP event that they learned about Certified B Corporations. Intrigued by the concept, they did their research and started the process, becoming the fourth business in Canada to become a register Benefit Corporation. This means that while they are a for-profit business, they have a third party measuring their impact and their commitment to the environment and community, holding themselves to highest standards for social and environmental sustainability. Through this, they maintain a triple bottom line policy, considering how they work towards bettering their community and the environment, alongside their financial wellbeing.



BluPlanet demonstrates their commitment to the environment in a number of ways: they are a VCC living wage leader that pays all employees a salary with health benefits and insurance, they are an ABCRC Community Champion, they sit on the Recycling Council of Alberta, and they offer pricing incentives for their fellow REAP members and not-for-profits.

The deadline for compliance with the new bylaws is fast approaching! Contact BluPlanet today – early adopters can beat the Fall 2017 rush and may also qualify for discounts.


Take Action

Follow BluPlanet on Twitter, Facebook, or hit them up on their website.

If you are a landlord or owner of a multi-family property, contact BluPlanet to learn more about discounts for early sign up.

If you are a Calgary resident in a multi-family property, get in touch with your landlord and let them know how they can benefit from early signup with BluPlanet Recycling.

Learn more about Calgary’s Waste Diversion Resources.

Grow Your Business with Thrive Accelerator

What does growing your business and creating social impact have in common? The new Thrive Accelerator!!!

There are very few businesses in Calgary who are satisfied with their profitability. Not too many businesses are ok with where they are at right now. Part of it is the nature of being an entrepreneur, in that we also strive for more and to be better. Thrive Accelerator can help.

Social entrepreneurship or social businesses are quite popular right now, and Calgary is seeing a rise in the amount of businesses identifying themselves as a social business. That means, businesses that are looking to create social impact with their business. Thrive Accelerator can help.

The new Thrive Accelerator is here to help your business starting March 14th in Calgary. In this FREE 6 month program, you will attend classes once a week (Tuesdays from 6-8:30pm), as well as receive one-on-one weekly business coaching. We cover topics on strategic planning, financial management, marketing and sales, as well as defining your social impact and measuring success.

One of the highlights from the last Accelerator was the support participants got from each other. Each week there was time devoted for one participating business to share their successes and struggles, giving space for participants to provide each other feedback and suggestions on how they could grow their business.

So not only are you receiving classroom education from experts in the field, access to a business coach, but a peer network that will last beyond the program duration.

We accept business that have been in operation for at least one year and are operating in Calgary. You do not need to identify yourself as a social business, but be willing to incorporate a social impact goal into your business. Our Accelerator is perfect for the business that is making around $100-200,000 per year and wants to grow. You will be expected to do some work that is directly related to growing your business. Your business doesn’t grow by just learning, you have to do it.

To apply, contact Chas by email chasy@momentum.org or call her at 403-204-2670. Did you hear, IT’S FREE!

Join this exciting new program. Together we are building a thriving, resilient and inclusive  local economy for all.


Intrinsi – Healthy Living, Locally

In 2016, Thrive received amazing applications for the Community Economy Leader Award we presented through REAP’s Be Local Awards in November. Throughout 2017, we will be profiling these amazing local businesses and the fantastic work they are doing in Calgary.

Intrinsi is a locally owned business that is dedicated to creating an amazing workplace culture, supporting the environment, and making a real impact in the community. Since 2007, they’ve provided Calgarians with a unique and inviting space to heal and create meaningful lifestyle changes, while still being mindful of how their business practices impact the larger community.



Their application for the Community Economy Leader Award displayed their commitment to creating a socially and environmentally sustainable business. Their employees are encouraged to volunteer at local agencies like The Alex Community Health Centre during working hours. They have partnered with Vibrant Communities Calgary as a Living Wage Leader, ensuring all staff, including part time employees, receive a living wage. Intrinsi also has a unique way of establishing links with nature, refusing to be trapped in their offices all year – staff are the proud caregivers to two beehives located in Shouldice Park. Not only does this mean employees can spend time outside in beautiful community gardens during the summer, they are also rewarded with a bounty of fresh honey for their efforts! The office space is kept beautiful and vibrant as well, with an in-house Art Coordinator who ensures the walls are filled with pieces from local artists, on a constantly changing rotation to keep the space fresh and new.

Intrinsi makes a conscious choice to purchase locally whenever possible, making use of their REAP membership to find like-minded businesses whenever they need new suppliers and partners. This decision has lead to an impressive 57% of their suppliers being local, including REAP members Bullfrog Power, Neal’s Yard, Lowen’s Skincare, Market 17, and P.E.L. Recycling. Rather than take the easiest route to finding vendors, this economy leader values the impact they can make by choosing local and sustainable businesses to partner with.


As their business expands with the opening of the new Natural Movement Centre, they are continuing to choose local businesses and businesses that promote environmental sustainability. When building the new Centre, they opted for eco-friendly designers and artisans, including Firebrand Glass in Black Diamond and Ecowalls, a company using natural heritage plaster formulas. All of the food at the clinic is supplied by local vendors (chosen by staff through a sampling process,) including kombucha from Happy Belly Kombucha and treats from Basic Roots.

If you’re still searching for a meaningful goal to set in the first part of 2017, but want it to support your community as well as your own health, Intrinsi has you covered. Starting on Monday, January 16th, they’ll be launching their 30 Day Challenge. This unique challenge will include:

  • An assessment before and after the Challenge for a baseline assessment
  • Three-times-per-week visits for Natural Movement Fitness
  • and nutritional support, including a 21-day meal plan

Thank you Intrinsi for applying to be Calgary’s Local Economy Leader! Your dedication to the health of your clients, your employees, and your city are inspiring and are making a lasting impact in our community.

Take Action

Follow Intrinsi on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Plan a visit to Intrinsi’s new Natural Movement Centre by checking out their class schedule.

Join the Natural Movement Challenge for 30 Days of exercise, support, and accountability. Starts January 16!

Want a gentle introduction to Natural Movement? Register for a 2 hour workshop in February or March.

Want a more-than-gentle introduction? Check out the Elements One Day Workshop on January 22, 2017.



Harvesting inspiration, collaboration and action from Thrive’s Community Huddle

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”        

                                                        ~Jane Jacobs

Thrive 001








Inspired by Jane Jacobs, an urbanist who believed firmly in economies being created by and for the people, Thrive brought together neighbourhood champions, entrepreneurs and local economy leaders at a Community Huddle on October 27. The purpose of the event was to engage and inform the community about Thrive’s new approach in advancing a thriving, resilient and inclusive economy for all in Calgary.

At the event we heard that the community looks to Thrive to:

  • “Raise the profile of inspiring economic activity that can benefit all Calgarians”
  • “Activate resources and leaders who champion economic equity for all”
  • “Build networks of champions to empower communities to solve their own problems”


Thrive 010IMG_6787

Thrive 110





















Through a participatory art project that had attendees envisioning their dreams for community we learned that Thrive’s values resonate with our community. You care about:

  • inclusion – a healthy economy is one where no one is left behind
  • ownership – connecting local knowledge and talent to solve local challenges
  • relationships – recognizing that economies are social constructs that emerge from meaningful collaboration between local leaders and community resources
  • prosperity – spreading sustainable solutions to create resilient economies


Thrive 006








You will see these values expressed in the way Thrive engages with the community and through the learning and resources we offer. Moving forward, Thrive’s emphasis is to support communities and businesses to build and sustain the local economy from the ground up. We use a community economic development approach that invests in people and places to build community well-being, fosters local ownership and provides valuable social benefits. You can connect with Thrive to:

  • Grow your leadership in building the local economy
  • Launch a social impact venture in your community
  • Accelerate a socially-minded business
  • Access resources to move your idea forward
  • Be inspired by what’s working in other communities

Thrive 102







We asked the community, what skills they needed to create sustainable social and economic change:

  • “How to be effective challenging existing economic models”
  • “Business management to improve my business’ efficiency and ability to grow”
  • “Skills in hosting meaningful and participatory conversations in the face of challenging topics”
  • “More insight into the lived experience of folks who struggle to build strong communities”
  • “How to leverage resources to build citizen capacity in order to create local economies with social impact”

We were also reminded of the important role Thrive plays in demonstrating how we as individuals are key influencers on the local economy through our purchasing and investing choices. We will continue to exemplify and demonstrate how the smallest of actions can create significant changes in creating a resilient economy.

Thrive 061







We asked the community, what individuals or groups could increase their impact with Thrive.

It was affirming to see the growing number of individuals and groups working on projects that have social impact in Calgary. Since the Community Huddle, we’ve been reconnecting with old friends and making new ones as we reach out to the individuals and groups identified. We are also curious about how to connect with others in Calgary, wanting and looking to create an impact in the local economy, who weren’t at the Community Huddle and don’t know about Thrive.

It has left us thinking critically about how Thrive can broaden its reach to identify individuals working on emerging projects that are seeking to create social change in our city. As we move into 2017, we are spending time developing a communications strategy to meaningfully engage with a growing number of individuals interested in activating sustainability in Calgary – from those with lived experience, to business and community leaders.

Thrive 020








Thrive was humbled by the feedback we received that the Community Huddle was the ‘folk fest for community economic development.’ This was a refreshing reminder that coming together matters in deepening our relationships with one other. We learned that people are seeking intentional purposeful engagement that moves us towards action. In the new year, you will be invited to join conversations hosted by Thrive as we pilot programs to activate change.

As one of our core values, we know that relationships matter. We value our relationship with you and are grateful for the many contributions you offered at the Community Huddle. To stay in touch with us, connect with:

  • Philip if you are a neighbourhood champion or entrepreneur seeking to create social impact in your community

philipl@momentum.org | 403-204-2681

  • Barb if you are curious about learning initiatives offered through Thrive or are working on a collaborative project to advance a local economy for all

barbd@momentum.org | 403-204-2668

  • Chas  if you are an entrepreneur looking for business training to integrate sustainability into your day to day operations

chasy@momentum.org | 403-204-2670

Thrive takes great pride in our strong network of partnerships to reach real people, create real opportunities and champion real change. We look forward to connecting with you again as we collectively build a thriving, resilient and inclusive economy for all Calgarians.


Village Brewery is this year’s Community Economy Leader

Thrive is happy to announce this year’s winner of the Be Local Community Economy Leader Award is Village Brewery! Village submitted an unbeatable application and wowed Thrive’s selection committee with a passion for community building, supporting their competitors, and engaging their fellow Calgarians in the craft beer industry. They’ve certainly showed economic success over the past five years, but their mission seems to be more geared towards gathering people than anything else. After all, it takes a village to create a craft beer movement!



What really stood out to Thrive’s selection committee was Village’s dedication to supporting their competitors and helping to grow the industry rather than just their own business. In 2016 they teamed up with The Dandy Brewing Company, a local nano-brewery to produce Village Friend: Dandy Baltic Porter. The proceeds from this one-brew batch were donated to Dandy to help them buy equipment to continue to expand their own capacity. Rather than focusing on their own financial bottom line, Village is assisting new breweries to tackle the challenges of being a small business in a big market. So if you’re into great, unique beer that’s building a local economy, keep an eye out for the 2017 Village Friend in February. If you want a sneak peek at who they’ll be collaborating with, Village just put out a teaser video!

Village 7

Village also showed us that they don’t just partner with other breweries. They partner with other Calgarians as well, including Fiasco Gelato, Big T’s and…you. One of their community engagement activities is the Village Gardener: Community Involved Ale. In 2016, Village partnered with twelve community gardens and dozens of independent backyard growers to produce a fruity, floral, fun brew grown as local as you can possibly get. They expect even more local support and involvement in 2017 and encourage anyone with backyard hops or crops, or anyone involved in community gardens to reach out. Plus, Village provides kegs from this small batch brew to each community garden hoping to get them to know each other a little better or perhaps even fundraise for a local cause. You grow the crops, and Village will help you brew community out of what you harvest.

Village 5

Village is also using their brewery as a community space and uses it as a catalyst for community growth. Non-profits and community initiatives can use their tasting room at no cost, they host local musicians at events, and they provide weekly tours that bring their fans and customers together. 10% of their bottom line goes to support arts, community, and culture in Calgary. It’s more than just a financial boost they give to Calgarian creators, too – their tasting room operates as a rotating gallery featuring art that patrons can both enjoy and purchase, a service they provide at no cost. 100% of the sale goes to the artist. Obviously, Village believes in paying people for their work – which is why after only five years in the craft brew industry, they have 20 full time employees and 30 part time employees all earning more than a Living Wage.

Village 9

There’s a reason the first line under “Our Story” on Village’s website is “Let us gather for mutual benefit. And beer.” They want to create community around craft beer that supports the industry as a whole, their neighbours, aspiring home brewers, their city, artists and musicians, and anyone else who wants to be involved. Village invites people into their space to congregate, they invite competitors to collaborate, and they invite all Calgarians to participate. They’re truly showing that doing business and doing good are one in the same.

Village Brewery – congratulations on being Calgary’s 2016 Community Economy Leader. Well deserved, well earned, well brewed.


Take Action

  • Follow Village on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Want to learn more about Village’s unique brews? Subscribe to their YouTube channel.
  • Find a Brew New You using Village’s interactive map.
  • Enjoy a tour and a pint (or flight!) every Thursday – Saturday at their 5000 12A St SE location.
  • Have hops growing in your backyard every summer? Part of a community garden? Reach out at info@villagebrewery.com to have your crops be part of the Village Gardener: Community Involved Ale in 2017.



, , , , , , ,

Hop Compost

With less than two years operating in Calgary under their belt, Hop Compost has already revolutionized how we produce compost in our city. Hop’s employee base may be small, but they are certainly mighty – they’re supporting local restaurants to create zero waste models, keeping tonnes of food waste out of Calgary’s landfills, and providing local growers with nutrient-dense, organic compost. Hop invited Thrive and Momentum to come learn more about how they’re developing a local, sustainable, and closed-loop composting method.







Their system begins with local restaurants, grocery stores, and hotels. Some big names have been fans for a while – Community Natural Foods just announced that they’ve diverted over 200,000 lbs of waste from landfills since they began using Hop’s services.  They provide their commercial clients (including The Nash, Village Ice Cream, and Market 17) with standard green compost bins, which are used to collect food scraps, spoiled produce, and other compostable items. The bins are picked up on customized schedules, clients are given a freshly cleaned bin, and the waste is taken back to Hop’s facility in Manchester Industrial Park.



This is where the real magic begins. Hop Compost has the exclusive Canadian rights to HotRot composting technology. These giant compost machines are completely enclosed – meaning no odor and no pests – just pure organic compost. It gets better though! Normal compost can take months to produce and is incredibly labour intensive to manage. Food waste going into the HotRot machines comes through in only 11 days. The entire process happens inside the machines and can be completely managed using the external computer interface. When you factor in the 30-day outdoor curing process, Hop is producing local, organic compost in around 41 days. So the coffee grounds from the espresso you ordered from Cafe Beano at the beginning of May? They could be fertilizing local crops as early as June.





Almost unbelievable, given the technology involved, this process gives a completely natural composting experience for food scraps. There’s no water, no heat, no microbes – HotRot provides a small ecosystem that allows for a natural process to take place and produces amazing, nutrient-dense compost. The waste is broken down so finely that all traces of pesticides are eliminated – meaning organic compost is created from non-organic waste. Hop ensures these standards are met with third party testing each quarter.



Showing no signs of slowing down, Hop is continually expanding their pick up network – they’ve just signed all the the Earl’s locations in both Calgary and Vancouver. Hop has been able to grow their capacity due to their triple revenue stream business model that has resulted in a thriving business capable of paying employees a living wage. They’ve even expanded their small employee base by providing employment to cleaners hired from the Drop-In Centre. Beyond pick-up services and their compost sales to both businesses and individuals, Hop is also able to sell carbon credits because of how much waste they divert from landfills each year.


Through their closed loop system, using technology to tackle our growing waste problem, and innovative thinking, Hop is truly creating the best compost in Canada. Hop has a 100 mile selling radius, so if you’re in Calgary area and in the market for nutrient-dense, naturally-processed, organic, and locally sourced compost – check out Hop Compost online store.


Take Action

Learn more about Hop Compost and their services by visiting their website.

Check out this short video about Hop Compost in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lvU4ei7O-w

Need compost for a home or community garden? Order Hop’s nutrient dense compost online!

Stay connected by following Hop on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Support some of the amazing local businesses taking part in Hop’s compost revolution.

, , , , , ,

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.

Who’s Your Farmer?



With a mission as hefty as “local food on the plate of every Calgarian,” it’s no surprise that YYC Growers and Distributors have outgrown their current storage space. Since its inception in 2013, YYC Growers has seen an increase from 50 Summer Harvest Box shares to over 500 boxes in the Calgary community. Kye Kocher, President of YYC Growers, gives no hint of slowing down.


Last year, in step with their desire to provide “365 day, around the clock local food to Calgarians,” YYC Growers and Distributors introduced a Winter Harvest box. Overall “it was received well, the feedback was good. Too many beets,” joked Kocher, who admits that there was some weeks where they felt challenged with the selection. “The reality is, winter means a lot of roots. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be beets or boring,” Kocher explained,  saying for the 2016 season YYC Growers have planned a wider crop selection. By beginning the planning process in March, they’ll be able to provide an even better breadth of local produce to their subscribers – and they plan to increase their output from the initial 50 Winter Harvest boxes in 2015 to 500 this year.


Faced with this increased demand and the desire to provide increased selection throughout the entire year, YYC Growers have found themselves short on space. Not only is the current space too small to accommodate the sheer volume of produce, they also require a cooler that allows them to keep different sorts of fruit and veg at their optimal temperatures.

To keep financial pressure off of the member farmers, the cooperative is reaching out to the community and their networks to support the move to the new storage space.  Using the crowdfunding website Chuffed, Kocher and YYC Growers hope to raise $25,000 to offset the costs of the expansion while continuing to provide fresh, local food to Calgary families.

There are some great local perks for donating to the YYC Growers and Distributors cause, including discounts are Farmers’ Market vendors and gift certificates from fantastic Calgary restaurants. According to Kocher, it wasn’t difficult to gain the support of these local businesses – they’re all restaurants and businesses that they already partner with. These businesses already have “our farmers selling to them directly,” so they were “happy to help.” You can find the full list of donation perks by visiting the YYC Growers and Distributors crowdfunding page.

yycgrowers-photobackground-text-farmer (1)


Call to Action

Donate to the crowdfunding campaign! Support the local food movement in Calgary – and remember there are fantastic perks available to claim!

Sign up for a Harvest Box and become a YYC Growers and Distributors subscriber.

Follow YYC Growers and Distributors on Facebook & Twitter – be sure to share out their crowdfunding campaign!

Meet a local farmer – go to a local community farmer’s market, a CSA pickup location, or email a local farm.

Participate in Open Farm Days, a unique opportunity to learn more about food production in Calgary. YYC Growers will be participating, along with over 90 farms and producers from across Alberta.

Grow your own food! While “produce can be seen as a luxury,” Kocher points out that “a way to mitigate that is to grow your own!”

Tackling Waste in YYC with Alternate Root

**This is a special blog post as part of a series highlighting social entrepreneurship in southern Alberta as part of Simon Fraser University’s CED Certificate program.

PDF Version:


Text Version:




With a family history of farming and a career in the non-profit sector, Carla recognized multiple layers of food waste occurring within her community. While she was initially focused on addressing food waste at an industry level, she altered her course when she discovered both that LeftoversYYC was already working on this issue and that the majority of food waste occurs at a consumer level. She formed Alternate Root YYC as a society of concerned individuals focused on educating the public around ways to mitigate food waste at home. They currently address this issue through facilitating cooking classes that incorporate practical skills with awareness-building, and do not currently know whether or not they should scale up.

Having completed a pilot season, AlternateRootYYC could use support to analyze successes and challenges, redefine roles and responsibilities within the organizing committee, and plan for financial sustainability.

Carla exudes enthusiasm and professionalism, is frugal, and has a strong vision for the future of Alternate Root YYC


Alternate Root YYC is registered as a society, which is defined as a society, which is defined as “an incorporated group of five or more people who share a common…charitable interest”* and must operate on a non-profit basis. As such, Alternate Root has not exposed itself yet to much profit, loss, or risk in a financial sense; they are only charging fees to cover base costs and to ensure that class participants show up. However, it seems that the workload division is not balanced yet and this poses a significant risk to the goodwill within the society. Data is accumulated through participant surveys and documentation of food donations by weight, but this information has not yet been consolidated into reportable outcomes. Other accountability structures have not yet been created. It appears that there is a strong attachment to remaining a low-budget non-profit, although it also strikes me that they are in a phase of determining what their culture will be.


*Alberta Societies Act

Key Financial Resource

Alternate Root received an Arusha Foundation Take-Action grant, which is awarded partially in Calgary Dollars (a local currency system) and partially in standard Canadian currency. Arusha raises the grant funds’ Calgary Dollars through partnerships with local businesses and other foundations, and distributes the

Canadian currency from larger federal grants. Arusha intends for this grant to both support local social and environmental projects, and to expand awareness of alternate currency in Calgary. Alternate Root used this grant to cover their business association fees, class materials, and space rentals, and is in the process of providing the required year-end report back on the society’s activities.

Key External Element:

Alternate Root has a definite need for strategic planning in order to reach scale. They are currently looking to the final report that I am writing for this class for some direction in this area. However, they are also looking to become part of a strong local business network (REAP) that both provides business guidance and exposes member businesses to a wide circle of expertise and professional services. It would be useful for Alternate Root to make the most of a membership investment in REAP by reaching out to other members for mentorship and assistance in developing a core strategy.



As a fledgling society with little formality, Alternate Root looks at first glance like a hobbyist collective. However, Carla Bitz has expressed a desire for Alternate Root to grow into more of a social enterprise with long term stability. Their ecosystem includes a positive and receptive market for their work of waste reduction, a large pool of knowledgeable individuals to draw labour from, and a quickly developed supportive culture around their organization. As an educational entity, they have few policy restrictions. They also have a rich network of competitors (other food educators) around them, many of which already engage in degrees of collaboration, thereby making success a greater possibility through shared learnings.

Recommendation #1

What I recommend they do before launching into their second season is to do a thorough examination of all their evaluation metrics and to go through the practice of a business plan in order to refine their objectives as a social venture. By clarifying the steps necessary to become financially viable, they will go a long way towards both the sustainability of their own society as well as of the supply networks (eg. Local farmers) that underpin their work.

Recommendation #2

I see a need for greater interaction between experienced entrepreneurs and local social innovators in order to form a greater spectrum of educational opportunities. There is a need for innovators like Carla to be able to access mentorship and entrepreneurial advice in an organized and concise manner, much like other entrepreneurial sectors (such as tech) have been able to form (ie. Short term social incubators, etc).


Business Model Canvas - Jess


2015 Community Economy Leader Award – Muttley Crüe

Muttley Crüe Organics Grooming and Daycare

Each year Thrive takes part in REAP’s Be Local Awards by sponsoring the Community Economy Leader Award. This year we received a number of fantastic submissions, but were truly impressed by Muttley Crüe and their initiatives. Open to all REAP Members, the Community Economy Leader Award recognizes members that are adopting practices to build a resilient community and local economy. They are rooted in Calgary and it shows in how they invest in people and places, are committed to purchasing fellow local businesses, and provide valuable social benefit. Muttley Crüe truly exemplifies all of this and more.

Muttley Crüe

Muttley Crüe Organics Grooming and Daycare

In her video submission for the Community Economy Leader Award, owner Annie Cole said “we try to be as part of our community as possible. One of the biggest things starting Muttley Crüe six years ago was that I didn’t want to be just another building on the block. We want to be part of our community. Our community and this city is what keeps this business and other small business thriving.”

After six years of hard work, Cole and her Crüe have achieved what they set out to do. With a focus on creating partnerships with other local organizations in Calgary, Cole emphasizes that Muttley Crüe relies on “as many local businesses as we possibly can when it comes to products that we use, even what we sell in our retail.” The shampoos and diffusers come from All Things Jill, the cleaners are supplied by Small Planet, and the personalized Muttley Crüe biscuits are made by Bark YYC. Their retail area itself consists of over 60% locally made products.

It isn’t just about their partners in business, though. Muttley Crüe also ensures they are giving back to their community. Partnered with AARCS, the Spay Neuter Task Force, Stardale Women’s Group, and the Veteran’s Food Bank, Cole explained “we have a donation in lieu of a fee for our trial day of boarding.” By allowing new clients to make a minimum $5 donation instead of paying the normal $35 fee, Muttley Crüe is able to support valuable resources and organizations in Calgary and Southern Alberta. Cole is quick to point out that no one has ever left just $5, which led to $2,000 being raised for their chosen charities in just three months.

Muttley Crüe isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. In 2016, they plan to begin an apprenticeship program for First Nations women. Muttley Crüe pays for the cost of the six month grooming course, while paying a living wage to the apprentice so that they’re actually making a living to support themselves and their families while learning a trade.

We’d like to offer a big congratulations to Muttley Crüe and Annie Cole for being Thrive’s Community Economy Leader in 2015. They may be a small business, but they have a mighty impact in their community and city. Through their partnerships, local supply chain, outreach to non-profits, and focus on the environment, Muttley Crüe is paving the way to a sustainable future in Calgary.

Take Action:


, , , , , ,