Case Study #1: The Better Food Company

Hope House, a Guelph-based charity, reached out to The Community Company to develop a food social enterprise after securing an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to explore a sustainable project.

Over a one year period, we collaboratively developed The Better Food Company, which shares the story of their farm-to-food bank model, while providing community members a direct opportunity to support a better food system through the purchase of a meal.

Learnings & Reflections

From the enterprise name itself, to the meal cards that come with every meal, to the use of farm produce in the meals, we wanted our community to know that for the cost of a takeout meal, they could contribute to a better food system in Guelph.

As a food-based business, we knew we had to deliver a high quality meal to earn repeat customers. Through over 200 customer surveys, we were able to constantly refine and improve our meal production process. This customer-centric approach earned us a 96.1% customer satisfaction score.

Another key learning was the high number of customers (27%) who chose to donate to Hope House at checkout. This has shown us the power of Social Enterprise as a donor acquisition tool for the charity we partner with, and is now something we're actively building into all future enterprises we develop.

Case Study #2: The Reconnecting Ontario Project

J.O.E. is a charity that provides job training and opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities. They operated coffee nooks in Guelph which were closed because of the pandemic.

We partnered with J.O.E. to launch a Community Project that helped Reconnect Ontario as we began lifting COVID-19 restrictions and reopening Ontario in the Spring of 2021.

Learnings & Reflections

The broader objective of this project was to show our community that those with developmental disabilities are just as capable as anyone else. Using this as our guiding principle, we created four original postcards and focused on storytelling, providing our four postcard creators an opportunity to share the meaning behind their design.

This person-centered approach to storytelling resulted in an exciting narrative for our local and national media. We spotlighted our postcard creators in every media interview and they stepped up to the challenge, speaking passionately on why it was important to rebuild social connections as we begin reopening Ontario.

A key learning for us at the end of the project was the power of media. Not only did our interviews with CTV and CBC help us sell more postcards, but it also boosted the self-confidence of our participants.

Case Study #3: In our Backyard

Cambridge Shelter, a Cambridge-based charity, reached out to The Community Company to develop an employment-based social enterprise for their shelter clients.

After securing an initial grant, we partnered over a one year period to research, brand, and launch In our Backyard, a professional yard and garden service enterprise. The project officially launched May 2023 and has been covered by City TV, CBC, and CTV.

Learnings & Reflections

While it was humbling to receive an overwhelming amount of positive support and messages from the media and community on Launch Day, the success of this project did not happen by accident. From the employment model for shelter graduates, to the project vision, to the design of the firehall, we left no stone unturned when it came to the research, branding, and launch of In our Backyard. This has been our most thoroughly researched project to date.

As a service-based social enterprise, it has allowed for immediate employment opportunities for our shelter clients due to the nature of service contracts. This has resulted in real impact in the lives of those overcoming homelessness. Our vision is to provide stability and a routine to those who have graduated from the shelter system, with the hopes that it will lead to further and more permanent employment.

This project launched May 2023, so we are discovering new learnings every day! Feel free to set up a chat with us and we can share more about In our Backyard's early successes.

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