Don’t Sweat It’s goals include growth and inclusion
Lisa Bailey

PosAbilities is going into business with a social purpose.

Don’t Sweat It begins operating today (April 1) as a social enterprise, building on posAbilities work experience programs that promote economic inclusion of people who have disabilities.

Business developer Mary McGivern says Don’t Sweat It is anchored by the strengths of the people supported and the potential for growth.

“We decided for the first social enterprise, rather than creating something completely new, let’s go with what we know,” she says.

“We’ve already got a client base and we own and manage a number of different properties, so let’s merge these into a social enterprise that has three divisions of gardening, home maintenance and recycling services.”

As a social enterprise, Don’t Sweat It has both financial and social goals.

“Financially, just like any other business, we want to grow, and social goals, which other businesses wouldn’t have, are specifically how many people will be employed in our business and whether they can be laddered into community employment in the future,” Mary says.

These goals reflect posAbilities’ mission of full inclusion for the people they support, which includes meaningful and paid work.

A growing movement, social enterprise is also indicative of a trend amongst organizations towards greater self-reliance.

Operating a business within a social service setting requires research and preparation, from determining support requirements for employees to complying with Canada Revenue Agency regulations.

Mary notes that networking with other organizations operating social enterprises and related conferences has been very beneficial to researching Don’t Sweat It. Industry associations have also been consulted on its viability in the marketplace.

With newly-hired business manager Cathleen Franck on board, April 1 marks the business start of Don’t Sweat It.

A larger marketing launch is anticipated in approximately six months.

In the interim, Mary says, the focus will be to ensure efficiency in operations, such as proper scheduling and job quoting procedures and crew training.

“We understand this will take time so we’re planning, we’re not ad hoc,” Mary says.

Don’t Sweat It does have a logo, which will figure in promotional materials such as brochures, as well as uniforms, truck decals and sandwich boards placed at job sites.

A website is also under development and anticipated to be up and running in approximately a month.

Seeing such opportunities as cross-marketing between the divisions and developing networks with community members such as real-estate agents to secure contracts, Mary is excited for Don’t Sweat It’s potential growth.

There’s also the potential to develop other social enterprises based on the various strengths and interests of the people supported by posAbilities.

“It’s very exciting and I’m very proud to be part of the first one,” Mary says.

Key, though, to Don’t Sweat It’s success is the service it provides.

“Like any business, we have to deliver quality service,” says Mary, who ran her own small business for six years.

“People who hire us are not going to hire us out of pity or charity or anything else, they’re hiring us because we have a great reputation and we’ll do a good job, and the added benefit is that you can do social good employing people (who seek inclusiveness).

“To me, it’s very much customer service, word of mouth, and doing a great job every time.”

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