Talks Continue to Fund Local Social Enterprise

Venture supports persons facing barriers to employment, will provide recycling services

A capture of a small-group dialogue at the Clean Slate summit, Establishing a Social Co-op in Ptbo held March 9.

Providing a “Clean Slate” for former detainees through a social enterprise in Peterborough is closer to fruition.

Ralph Gutkin, co-ordinator and developer of Clean Slate Co-op, says an encouraging response from the community and potential funding opportunities are two promising developments following a meeting in March in the city.

“I have had both an expression and demonstration of enthusiasm and a desire to help from people who came to the March 9 event and from numerous others I have met with in smaller groups and one-on-one,” Ralph tells Electric City Magazine.

“I have been speaking to various social enterprisers across the country to gather a package of best practices and programs. People seem (more than) willing to refer me to others and express an interest in continuing to develop a dialogue around this.”

“I continue to be asked about the status of things when I am out and about. People seem to be very excited about what is happening with this venture.”

Ralph and others are striving to build Clean Slate, a social enterprise for former detainees and other people who face barriers to employment. It will be an enterprise that will offer recycling services to the community, along with jobs for its residents.

He has the support of some Peterborough politicians and is exploring a collaboration with an organization in Edmonton that is running a similar enterprise. Ralph is drawing on the expertise of the existing enterprise’s CEO and is learning the nitty-gritty details of replicating the operation.

The current activities include assembling a three-person board of directors and an advisory board for a not-for-profit corporation, which is now being incorporated to serve as the local partner in the venture along with the Edmonton group.

Various community members and groups have offered to provide elements of the program, including the Elizabeth Fry Society, which has become an enthusiastic supporter of this endeavor, he notes.

“I have been speaking to various social enterprisers across the country to gather a package of best practices and programs. People seem (more than) willing to refer me to others and express an interest in continuing to develop a dialogue around this.”

Ralph says “talks have continued” with the funder, who is confidential at this point. He says he and his intended partner, who has access to a social enterprise fund, have come to an agreement on the terms of a draft joint-venture agreement, which will be signed once the details of certain business components, such as an acceptable financial arrangement with the city of Peterborough, are resolved.

Stakeholders gather next April 25 to discuss how to embed the operating values and principles of a worker co-operative into the venture. The worker co-op aspect won’t happen initially but Ralph expects it will occur in the enterprise’s future.

Photo by Yvonne Hollandy.

Related Story:

Social Enterprise to Provide ‘Clean Slate’ for Former Detainees, Others

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