May is Social Enterprise Month. A social enterprise is a business operated by a non-profit organization that both generates income from sales and creates social, environmental or cultural value. To strengthen these types of businesses year-round, Columbia Basin Trust offers advice and other resources through its Basin Business Advisors (BBA) program.
Delivered by Community Futures, BBA aims to build economic capacity in Columbia Basin communities by strengthening small- to medium-sized businesses and social enterprises. While it supports social enterprises throughout the year, it is currently running social enterprise workshops in Trail (May 27) and online (June 2). Attending one of these workshops qualifies a non-profit to apply for a development grant from Enterprising Non-Profits. Learn more at bbaprogram.ca.
“We support social enterprises because enhancing business skills is key to helping non-profits meet their financial goals and visions,” said Lisa Kilpatrick, Columbia Basin Trust Senior Manager, Delivery of Benefits. “Social enterprises help build healthy local economies and encourage entrepreneurship in our communities.”
BBA provides free, one-to-one, confidential business counselling and assessment services, and arranges and cost-shares specialized consulting services. It helps social enterprises generate revenues so they can diversify their incomes beyond grants. Social enterprises are invited to seek help in areas like business planning and strategy, marketing and sales, and systems support (financial management, inventory management, process efficiency, etc.).
Kootenay Lake Hospital Auxiliary is one non-profit that has benefited from BBA’s services. It has numerous functions within Kootenay Lake Hospital, including operating the gift shop, cash machine and comfort cart; taking care of the hospital grounds; and organizing raffles and bake sales. These activities help raise funds to address medical needs in the community.
“We first booked a meeting with a BBA advisor to get an outside perspective on our current business model and long-term plans,” said Marla Olsen, Vice President, Kootenay Lake Hospital Auxiliary. “The advisor reviewed our finances and helped us streamline processes. Overall, it was a very good experience. It’s a great resource and I know that there are lots of social enterprises in the area that can benefit from the program.”
For many years, the Trust has collaborated with Enterprising Non-Profits (enp)–and it continues to do so through BBA. The goal is to help social enterprises in the Basin develop and grow, which in turn builds strong non-profits and healthier communities. Through its granting program, workshops and other opportunities, enp shares its expertise, resources and support, helping non-profits further their objectives and become more financially sustainable.