I met with the great people at Goodwill in London yesterday and learned that they are one of the oldest social enterprises in London that started in 1902. They have recycling programs, retail stores, janitorial work, food services, and job placement services that comprise their 12 million dollar establishment. They employed 1200 people in London & Middlesex last year!!
The lesson I learned from Michelle was that mission integration is key to a successful social enterprise. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in if at the end of the day it isn’t serving the people you exist to serve.
Goodwill partners with many other nonprofits in the city and is integral to London’s community sustainability. They help give people a hand up in life and have plans to do it bigger and better than ever with the opening of their new Social Enterprise & Abilities Centre.
“Goodwill Social Enterprise Abilities Centre, is a new 90,000 square foot building to provide socially disadvantaged people with access to affordable goods, skills training and employment opportunities” (Government of Canada Media Release)
“The Goodwill facility will include a cafe, where individuals can be trained in culinary and customer service skills, community store, materials handling facility for donations, classrooms and conference facilities that could accommodate 350 to 400 people.” (London Free Press June 22, 2010)
"I can assure you by the summer of 2011 this neighbourhood will be different. It will be more vital. This site in particular will be really alive," said Michelle Quintyn, president of Goodwill Industries, Ontario Great Lakes region.
An exciting portion of this building will house social entrepreneurs (business incubation) who would like to make a difference in London by building a stronger community.
A great and energetic meeting!
If you are a nonprofit leader, social entrepreneur or local business and are interested in more information about social enterprise please contact me.