Small businesses can do well by doing good

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It is essential for small businesses and entrepreneurs to carve out a balance between their organizational impact and revenue-generation strategy. Dave and Hannah Cree have remained prominent through their contributions to social causes, but the Calgary flood of 2013 forced them to evacuate their home, and introduced them to throngs of people who had become homeless like them.

Dave had already been exposed to these living conditions as part of a leadership course where he had to live like a homeless on the streets of Edmonton for a day. Together, the couple decided to turn this into a business opportunity that could help the homeless, and they founded CMNGD Linens, Common Good. It is a company that provides laundry services to restaurants and employs homeless and disadvantaged people.

Small businesses prove that doing good can be good business
Courtesy CMNGD

This business model was inspired by a homeless charity that promote rehabilitation with laundry facilities, and Dave and Hannah simply dissected this model and revamped the idea. They launched their business on the Alberta Treasury Board BoostR in June 2016, and by September, they managed to get many investors on board. The activities began in the basement of the Calgary Drop-in & Rehab Centre, and today, they have their very own laundry warehouse with seven employees. They are planning to partner up with Executive Mat to expand the business throughout Canada.

Hannah had been working as a startup advisor, and she believes that social entrepreneurs are not overly concerned with the creation and sustenance of revenues. She reinstates the importance of having a strategic financial model that will sustain and support the rehabilitation process their business intends to undertake.

Brandon Waardenburg, the co-founder of Good Trade Co., introduces yet another splendid social enterprise, a Calgary-based trade coffee organization that supports farmers in Colombia and the local market. His concept is based on the idea of building and promoting economic relationships and they founded Good Trade to function as a non-profit venture. However, soon after Brandon and his co-founder began to act on their plans, they realized that not many financers were willing to fund their enterprise.

After exhausting their means and hopes at many financial institutions, they managed to collect the capital they needed through a crowd-funding campaign in 2016. Since then, their organization has grown into a self-sufficient organization that purchases coffee from small-scale Colombian farmers, and provides them basic business skills for family businesses, financial literacy and other life skills in exchange.

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