Nova Scotia

Hope Blooms: the ripple effect of social enterprise

A social enterprise consultant in Halifax says Hope Blooms' recent success is part of an inspiring trend of young entrepreneurs giving back to their community.

North-end Halifax students get $40,000 backing for salad dressing business

The students of Hope Blooms asked the show's investors for a $10,000 loan — in exchange for five per cent royalties until the loan was paid back — for their budding company called Hope Blooms. They got four of the five investors on board and walked away with $40,000 — no string attached.

A social enterprise consultant in Nova Scotia says Hope Blooms' recent success is part of an inspiring trend of young entrepreneurs giving back to their community.

David Upton, co-owner of Common Good Solutions, told CBC's Information Morning he's seeing more social enterprise startups popping up across the province.

"Young people in particular are looking at society around them saying, 'There’s got to be a better way to do the things we do," he said.

"Most of them believe that enterprise and entrepreneurship are important things, but that multiple bottom lines and different ways of measuring success than simply profit is probably the way to go."

He said companies with a social connection, like Hope Blooms, have an impact that can ripple out because they're rooted in the community.

Hope Blooms caught the attention of many people Canadians after the group of young entrepreneurs from north-end Halifax received a $40,000 investment from the CBC reality show Dragons' Den.

The small business began as a community garden project with less than a dozen kids. The students planted seeds and tended crops in an abandoned lot in their neighbourhood, turning their produce into a line of organic salad dressings sold at the Halifax Seaport Farmers' Market.

A portion of their sales goes into a scholarship fund.

Upton said the young people showed that companies can create change and solve problems.

"They learned things about themselves and about how you engage that matter. The Dragons' Den piece was just a beautiful piece of public recognition," he said.

Philanthropy and profit

Kevin O'Leary was the only investor on the show who didn't donate.

"For a business to be successful it has to be profitable. That's the DNA of a business," he said on the show. "I have to make money as an investor."

Upton disagrees.

"That's like saying the reason for a person to exist is to eat," he said.

The consultant said social enterprise doesn't have to be a non-profit, but it has to be meeting a social mission — like the Saint Mary's University students developing a knee brace to help rehabilitation.

Upton said social enterprises in Nova Scotia continue to make money and employ staff.

"Nova Scotians tend to look out for each other. That's what social enterprise is all about. Social enterprise plays to our strengths," he said.

“It’s who we are.”

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