Guest Blog by Samuel Benoit
Samuel Benoit has worked with non-profits and social businesses in seven countries on three continents. In 2013 he completed a Master of Social Entrepreneurship at Hult International Business School in San Francisco. He currently serves as Operational Manager for Right Bike, a social enterprise bike shop in Ottawa, Canada.
Designing Social Enterprise Solutions in Baker Lake, Nunavut
According to Muhammad Yunus, “All human beings are born as entrepreneurs. But unfortunately, many of us never had the opportunity to unwrap that part of our life, so it remains hidden.”
Professor Yunus is the founder of Grameen Bank and is renowned for being the founder of modern microfinance and a thought leader in the field of social entrepreneurship.
In Nunavut’s only inland community of Baker Lake, I had the chance to test out this principle with a group of adults with disabilities who are engaged in a 12-week pre-employment training program with PMC and the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Family Services (DFS).
As a case study, we worked as a team on the concept of opening a social enterprise thrift shop that would provide supportive employment for members of the community with disabilities.
For three days we worked together as a design team to develop the idea and define what products and services it should provide. To do this we adopted some of the best practices in product and service design being used at Silicon Valley innovation firms like IDEO.
Thanks to the hard work and the diversity of our design team, we were able to develop some of the most important aspects of the business: the customer experience; what products it should carry and how they should be priced and displayed; the role it will play it should play in the competitive landscape; and perhaps most importantly, how the business will support the aspirations of its employees.
Over the next few months, PMC will continue to work with the Government of Nunavut and other partners to explore how the social enterprise model can be put to use in northern communities to meet market demands and provide supportive employment for people with disabilities.
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