Community Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship

The Community Company

1. No Poverty 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth 17. Partnerships for the Goals

Overview

The Community Company gives its creators a platform to share their stories, arising an empowering sense of pride. Working to support those struggling with poverty to change the stigma and raise awareness surrounding social issues that individuals in our community face through storytelling. “Our partners are subject matter experts who have a wealth of knowledge on the adversity that they’ve experienced.”

Author

Maggie Smart

Maggie Smart

School

Beyond Borders

Beyond Borders

Professor

Matthew Mulhern

Matthew Mulhern

Innovation

Since launching in November 2018, there have been 12 community members who have become creators with The Community Company. They are; Justin, Andrew, Ame, Martha, Sarah, Jillian, Marlene, Paul, Hawke, Elisa, Sam, Tiffany, and Brandy. Each individual has created or contributed to a community box. Each with a different purpose and story behind them, with the intent of selling to those in the community. Creator Andrew, created two different products addressing homelessness during the winter holiday season. The first being a tote bag to represent that his addiction has him imprisoned yet able to escape, but he stays inside because he feels that he deserves to be punished. Andrew also created a set of holiday cards to portray some of his experiences around Christmas celebrations for the homeless. Ame, Martha, Sarahs, Paul and Marlene created a community box that’s main focus was on self-care and were all able to put their personal touches on for each box. Each creator is able to design the products in a way they feel would best portray their message, leaving them with a sense of accomplishment and pride in their work.


Community Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship

Inspiration

This innovation emerged when Justin took a local homeless man out for lunch where he learned about the hardship he endured throughout his upbringing and life. The man felt that he has been ignored by society. This provoked Justin to quit his job and dedicate his life to helping those facing adversity. Justin said ”What pained me was that I didn’t ignore Jeremy because I hated him, I ignored him because I was so caught up with my own life. It is so much easier to look away than it is to stop and chat for a few minutes. There is a time and place to connect with people like Jeremy, and it just wasn’t on my way to work. I had my “Aha!” moment when I got back to school and reflected on this experience.”

Overall impact

These products relate to creating a sense of purpose. Each community box is formed around the premise of empowering those battling with poverty and addiction. Using experiences from their own lives they are able to display their creations to a large platform of supporters. By doing so they receive 50% of the profits from their products sold which helps the creators improve their lifestyle. This is an incredibly effective method of spreading awareness to those who have been more fortunate. The community boxes also show those in similar situations to the creators that there is hope and they could use their creativity to better themselves as well.


Justin's inspiration for The Community Company originated from him striving to find his purpose in life and aid others on their journey of self-discovery as well. He felt this could be accomplished by giving others the opportunity to use their real-life experiences to tell stories in any creative way they could. By doing so they would be able to develop a source of income, creating a sense of fulfillment and providing a second chance to better themselves and their current situation. Justin’s motivation was to help empower those striving to overcome adversity. He wanted to offer a unique experience to create a product that is both mutually beneficial for the business and society.


Business benefit

The Community Company has it doubled its income in a month and a half as their brand has gained popularity and are looking to expand by partnering with charities and other organizations. They are also looking to expand their product diversity and will soon be releasing new product lines and innovations. Although their products are fairly common their competitive advantage comes from the meaning and impact behind the items. To date, they have been able to share $2,027 with the creators leaving The Community Company with the same sum of profits. With such a new startup, the main goal is to raise awareness and gain recognition within the community and with this progression, profit will follow.

Social and environmental benefit


This innovation has had a large impact on the Guelph community. The impact on society has drastically improved many individuals’ self-confidence and has helped them take pride in themselves. By creating a platform for their vision to become a reality allows community members to thrive. 50% of their profits are shared with the creators to help achieve their short-term goals such as being able to afford groceries or an apartment. The long-term goal is that The Community Company becomes a stepping stone, for their future endeavours. This opportunity is meant to empower those who are lost or struggling. The intention is not meant to change people's lives but provides skills and goals for them to continue on the journey to self-actualization. Another long term effect is that the creator is left is more comfortable to reach out to others in the community. The business model is built to be scalable and the effort for the creators is not meant to increase as popularity does. Like many start-ups, they are heavily dependent on followers and networking with a large following on Instagram and Twitter.


The company has been consistently receiving positive feedback from its creators and customers suggesting success and a positive impact present. This business is mutually beneficial to each aspect of the triple bottom line, being people planet and profit. Justin is a firm believer in creating products people need and are already buying. This is a way of not adding to consumerism and waste because these products are already being purchased, this is just a way to upgrade and support a good cause. The business’s goal is to be sustainable and are doing so by producing all products locally and creating products that people are already buying, giving them the opportunity to make social change and upgrade their products.


Interview

Justin Chan, CEO and Founder

Photo of interviewee

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The Community Company

The Community Company

Guelph, ON, CA

Business Website: https://www.communitycompany.org/

Year Founded: 2018

Number of Employees: 11 to 50

The Community Company is creating products with a purpose and empowering those facing adversity through entrepreneurship. This is accomplished by developing a genuine relationship between creator and company, co-creating everyday products that promote storytelling and creativity and sharing the profits from every purchase. Although this is a new company they have launched three different product lines partnering with 12 different creators. CEO, Justin Chan is a firm believer in reducing waste and only selling things that people need. Hence why he came up with the idea of creating tote bags, Christmas cards and self-care boxes because those are products people would be purchasing anyways.