When you buy a bag of their muesli or a container of their new spices, you are buying so much more than a healthy, fresh and delicious product. You are supporting a group of youth entrepreneurs working towards better futures through their social enterprise venture. Thirteen: A Social Enterprise is an initiative of the Parkdale Food Centre that aims to promote healthy eating while providing a group of thirteen teenagers with the opportunity to develop skills and knowledge around a business. This group of innovative young people takes on the responsibility of running the social enterprise and follows a business plan that they create themselves. Before doing so, the participants in the program undergo training to learn various business processes and skills, but as this social enterprise has demonstrated, the best way of learning is by doing.
Each participant in the program dedicates an average of ten hours per week making muesli and spice mixes, organizing aspects of the business, attending markets on weekends, and facilitating community partnerships. Thirteen is currently in many different retail locations around Ottawa, with more planned to carry the product in the future. The initiative has been featured in the media multiple times and is becoming widely recognized throughout the city. Thirteen: A Social Enterprise continues to defy the stereotype that youth can only be participants, not leaders.
One of the members of Thirteen: A Social Enterprise, Thiena Gapfasoni, explained that the biggest success of the program has been the impact it has had on the lives of its members. She explains that “We have improved personal strengths and communication skills, we are more outgoing, we can sell our products in confidence, even if there are some barriers in terms of language and culture… We have overcome all of that. We know that we are really business people". The project will continue to grow with a new round of youth each year to replace the program graduates, with some graduates staying on in a mentorship capacity. Thirteen: A Social Enterprise aims to continue adding new ideas and changes to their products, and impacting the lives of more and more of Ottawa’s youth.
Visit https://13socialenterprise.com/ to learn more.
Want to learn about other social enterprises in Ottawa? Read our other sector snapshots or browse through our social enterprise directory: https://weallprofit.ca/