ShredMasters is a part of Communitas Social Enterprises (CSE) and offers employment and training to individuals with developmental disabilities, mental health challenges, or acquired brain injury in the Fraser Valley. CSE recognizes the impact that employment plays in the quality of life for any individual. They create an environment where individuals with disabilities are employed while surrounded by the supports that they need to be successful. To assist CSE with strengthening this enterprise, Vancity Community Foundation supported ShredMasters to participate in a marketing workshop (see below) to build internal marketing capacity while completing a marketing plan. CSE also received support to hire a sales person to grow the client base for both ShredMasters and ValleyRecycling, a commercial and residential supportive employment recycling social enterprise the organization also operates.
In 2017 ShredMasters provided employment to 4 employees and 20 trainees. One of these employees, Justin, (pictured) came to CSE through another Communitas program which connects people diagnosed with mental illness with support from an employment specialist and opportunities for work experience. Before coming to Communitas, Justin had been in and out of hospital for several years dealing with mental illness. Eventually he required disability assistance because he was unable to work. With support, Justin started slowly, working one day a week, then two and as he grew more confident, he took on more responsibility. He became a driver/ mentor to other clients and when it became clear that Justin had strong organizational skills, he began managing accounts in the office. Today he works full time and says that having an employer who understands mental illness and who treats him with dignity and respect has been essential. “Employment has been an immensely integral part of my recovery to wellness,”
he says. “Being employed by Communitas for the last 10 years has provided stability for me. I’ve lived at three different places, have been married and widowed, lost my mother and I’m on my third car, all these life situations or circumstances changed while the job has remained.”
Workshop series brings social enterprises together to develop marketing strategies
Recognizing that many social enterprises lack a strong marketing plan and sales expertise, Vancity Community Foundation engaged a marketing strategy firm to develop a custom workshop series for non-profit social enterprises. The workshop brought together CleanStart, Megaphone, Sources Concierge, and Communitas to participate in several hands-on sessions to review their marketing strategies and to develop tactical marketing plans. Additionally, each social enterprise was provided with access to one-on-one consulting hours to address the specific needs of their business and for support to implement their plans.