Over the next year, Social Entrepreneurship Evolution (SEE) will be posting a series of profiles highlighting various youth social entrepreneurs (YSEs) in Northern Ontario. We hope that their stories inspire you; whether you’re already making change happen or just looking to take the first step! If you’re in the business of doing good, share your social enterprise story with us to be featured in our Spotlight Series! Please complete this and return it by email to Mélanie. For more information about the SEE collaborative and to stay informed about everything youth social entrepreneurship in Northern Ontario, make sure to sign up for our e-newsletter.
Bushplane Productions is a production team based out of the Canadian Heritage Bushplane Centre (CHBC) in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. This social enterprise launched by CHBC, a non-profit organization. provides employment opportunities for recent graduates and others facing employment barriers in videography, video editing and graphic design. The goal of these employment opportunities is to provide young people with the necessary employment experience to gain long-term employment in their field of interest. After working with them to create a promotional video for SEE to use for our upcoming website launch (stay tuned!), we asked Todd Fleet, C urator with CBHC and Project/Production Manager with Bushplane Productions, to talk to us about the organization to learn more about the work they are doing. Check out their story below:
Q: What is the motivation behind Bushplane Productions?
A: The motivation behind Bushplane Production’s creation was that we were looking for a way to create dynamic content for the CHBC as a way to increase repeat visitation to the Centre. We found that quality work had to come from further south making the proposition beyond our price range. So after talking with others who were also looking for those services, we ran with the idea of creating the content ourselves. By focusing on partnerships with the Job Creation Partnership program (JCP) and Sault Colleges’ newly created digital videography program, we developed Bushplane Productions. We looked at the project as an opportunity to help not only ourselves, but other non-profit organizations looking for the same thing we were – affordable ways to more effectively communicate mandates and/or messages.
Q: Who do you hope to impact and reach through your initiative? Why?
A: Our goal in this process is to generate revenue to assist in the sustainability of the CBHC and offer an opportunity for students and others facing barriers to employment to gain experience, improve their resumes and build networks while creating real world projects relevant to their career interests (capacity building). We helped students from the Sault College program by mentoring the participants and helping them develop networks in the community for future work. Bushplane Productions has also created job training for eight Job Creation Partnership (JCP) participants, and as a result five of those have found employment. We are doing this because it has been our experience that there is very little training opportunity for students in the creative/digital fields in the city but there are many organizations that are looking for those skills and we can help bring them together.
Q: Would you consider yourself a social entrepreneur and why?
A: I think so as we are not only about making money, we are also trying to create partnerships with other members, organizations, and businesses of the community whether they be students, non-profit , for-profit organizations etc.
Q: Does this term ‘social entrepreneur’ resonate with you? What words might you connect with more?
A: It does, but I feel that many don’t understand the term, or know what it is. It might have the connotation of more of a feel good term (kind of like tree-huggers, etc.) and some, including many for-profit organizations may not take it seriously or understand it. A word that I might connect with more is collective entrepreneurship, which has the connotation of a group of organizations that are working together to help each other and their community in various capacities – training, employment, revenue generation, etc. Where one company has one service or product they are offering but are missing a piece to really be successful and another company can help fill that void. For example we have the ability to create advertising content that is not generally available and by partnering with marketing agencies the agencies can now sell new product to their customers, benefiting both organizations.
Q: What barriers and challenges have you encountered?
A: The challenges we have encountered is that most for-profit organizations do not get the concept for some reason and have backed out of partnerships when the actual work begins – I suspect that most of the smaller partners are very busy and just do not want to put the effort in. Another challenge has been that for-profit partners or potential partners may take concepts/business plans and develop the same type of business without the community benefits, thus defeating the social benefits and squeezing out the social enterprises. As a Museum and Cultural Centre we feel this is becoming more of what we are for the community – not just an attraction, but a community resource.
Q: How did you confront those challenges and barriers and what resources did you need? What resources do you need as you move forward?
A: We confronted the challenges by not giving up and continuing to seek out potential partners and seeking new ways of becoming our own resource and a resource for others. The resources we need are basically to get the word out on what we are doing and why, as we have not at this point done much marketing of what we are doing as Bushplane Productions and as an organization. The resources we need going forward are to continue to try and develop these partnerships and training opportunities within the community and anything that can help us raise that awareness would be of assistance in achieving those goals.