Vancouver Island’s Social Enterprise Economy Celebrated at SeCatalyst Gala and Day of Learning

(News Release) NANAIMO – Social enterprises hoping to get more children inspired about science, provide important life skills to youth and enrich the food culture of the west coast by ensuring healthy food is accessible were the big winners Wednesday night, while Vancouver Island’s social enterprise experts welcomed over a hundred people who signed up for a day of learning on Thursday.
“ Once again, Vancouver Islanders proved their commitment to creating businesses with a bigger social impact, and we can’t thank our experts, participants, sponsors, finalists and judges enough for helping us stage another successful social enterprise catalyst event for Vancouver Island, “ says Kristi Rivait, seCatalyst project manager and co-founding director
of Scale Collaborative.
In front of over 400 people at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre on Wednesday night’s seCatalyst Gala, three enterprise finalists presented to judges Michelle Stilwell, MLA, Minister for Social Development and Social Innovation, Adrian Legin, CEO of Community Coastal Credit Union and Derek Gent, Executive Director, Vancity Community Foundation.  Vying for their share of $50,000 in funds and technical support were Nanaimo Science & Sustainability Society (NS3), Skookum Food and Coffee, Pacific Centre Family Services Association, and The Tofino Ucluelet Culinary Guild (TUCG).
NS3 presented a compelling case for support to offer more quality interactive science opportunities to families, increase both the number of schools and school districts participating in its outreach programs, funds to help operate an interim science centre – a small space for exhibit-based programming that will also serve as a base for its program and marketing support to raise the funds needed to build a permanent science centre in Nanaimo. They were awarded $5000 in financial support, Futurpreneur and Tartan Group consulting, a Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce membership, and consulting from Synergy Sustainability Institute towards a green certification.
Skookum sought business-mentoring support in becoming more self-sufficient and financial support to help to expand its enterprise through catering and community events, providing a greater diversity of experience for youth participants. The ‪‎seCatalyst judges awarded them $5000, business and marketing consulting from Vancity & Tartan Group, WestShore Chamber membership, and consulting support toward their green certification by Synergy.
TUCG was also seeking business and marketing support to continue to create a reliable food chain for quality, healthy food, coaching on how best to address succession planning with the aging farmer workforce, and funding to support a larger, community driven distribution network. The judges awarded them $15,000 in funding,  Coastal Community Credit Union and Tartan Group consulting, tuition to Hollyhock Social Ventures Institute, a Vancouver Island Economic Alliance  (VIEA) membership and two tickets to the VIEA Summit as well as membership to the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce.
After being inspired by the finalist’s presentation at the seCatalyst’s Gala, everyone was invited to participate in the seCatalyst Day of Learning, May 21, 2015 at Vancouver Island University. A skills building conference, it brought together over 100 organizations, including impact businesses, non-profits, academic institutions, and all three levels of government. President of Ecotrust Canada, Brenda Kuecks  was the morning keynote speaker and she talked about the economic power and potential of social enterprise. In the afternoon, Legin (following his stint as an seCatalyst judge) talked about how building networks, like the growing social enterprise movement, strengthens the community.