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Posted on Sep 29, 2013

Community Joins Hands Across Recycling Enterprise

Community Joins Hands Across Recycling Enterprise

By Jennifer Neutel, Axiom News

This story originally appeared on ENP Canada’s website.

ENP Canada has partnered with Axiom News to explore the Canadian social enterprise movement one story at a time. Each story will provide snapshots and profiles of local social enterprises and the emerging, supportive environment. This story is one of hundreds we will be publishing. Check in every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the latest news.

Axiom News is also a SEWF 2013 media partner. 

Caroline Arcand, Co-founder and Executive Director, Groupe Convex, will be speaking at the SEWF session "Be Inspired: Social Enterprise Practitioner Panel (English & French)."

Readers that enjoyed this article may wish to check out the 2013 SEWF program stream "Skills Building.

The feature picture is courtesy of Compfight / A Flickr Search Tool.    

During social enterprise network Groupe Convex’s first community meeting, a woman named Tammy presented herself as someone with a disability and a client of community social services agency Valoris.

“That’s all that she wanted to say because that was actually her role, that was the reality,” says Groupe Convex co-founder and executive director Caroline Arcand, noting Tammy was unemployed and received social services.

Today, Tammy is in charge of the confidential document shredding department of Recycle-Action, one of nine social enterprises operating under Groupe Convex serving the Prescott-Russell region in eastern Ontario. She is the receptionist for the department, is in charge of other employees and earns a paycheque.

“The old story is way behind (her) . . . she is very proud of what she does right now,” Caroline says, adding these skills could be applied in other businesses.

recycle 2The enterprise was created after a business owner shared his recyclables problem — he was paying to put recyclables in a landfill due to a lack of recycling opportunities for the business sector.

Recycle-Action was formed in 2008 with the aim to be the leader in the recycling sector in Prescott-Russell. 

It became the transfer site for the blue box program, serving six municipalities where businesses were previously paying to have their recyclables transported to another region.

The services were approved by Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment and the Ontario Stewardship Program.

Because it is a small organization, Recycle-Action was unable to purchase a building for its operation. In 2011, an agreement was made with the Hawkesbury Industrial Investment Association, which purchased a building with the condition that the Recycle-Action signed a 10-year lease.

To purchase required equipment, Recycle-Action obtained financing through a loan from Community Futures Development Corporation.

“The project doesn’t belong only to Groupe Convex, it’s a community project and really the entire community just joined hands,” Caroline says.

Economic, social and environmental impacts, also known as a triple-bottom-line, are realized through the enterprise.

Approximately 40 people are employed at Recycle-Action, half of whom have an intellectual disability. Caroline notes this model, where the employees include both those who face employment challenges as well as average citizens, is unique to the social enterprise space.

Recycle-Action has recycled more than 10,000 tonnes of materials that would otherwise be in a landfill.

It is also interesting to note people who were previously perceived to be living out of public funds due to disability are now part of a community solution, Caroline says.

Groupe Convex’s social mission is to generate meaningful employment through business projects for the area’s residents who face employment challenges. The social enterprises currently employ 169 people, of which approximately 70 per cent live with an intellectual disability.

Profits are reinvested, with 72 per cent of Groupe Convex’s revenue coming from sales, generating a major portion of its budget.

As the umbrella organization, Groupe Convex launches and operates the provincially-registered social enterprises.

Since Groupe Convex was incorporated in 2004, there have been new launches and changes within the enterprises. For example, a print shop was recently sold, with the new owner continuing to employ the six former employees during his first year.

Visit to learn more.

More about Caroline Arcand

recycle 1Caroline Arcand possesses a Bachelor of Arts from Universite du Quebec in Montreal, a Certificate in Communications from the Ottawa and St-Paul University, a Certificate in Human Resources Management and one in Business Administration from Universite du Quebec, Québec. She is currently enrolled in the Master in Community Development program, at University of Victoria, in BC.  She is one of the founders and the Executive Director of Groupe Convex, a network of social enterprises employing mostly people with an intellectual disability.  She is an active director on the Eastern Ontario Training Board for the past 10 years. She was awarded the Economic Development Woman of the year in 2008 and was awarded 2011 Social Entrepreneur of the year by Trico Foundation.  Some of her initiatives were documented in various university based research projects and others were broadcast at Radio-Canada, TFO and other Canadian television stations.  She is a tree huger and apart her current studies and professional involvement, she shares her time with her husband and their 2 horses on their hobby farm, in eastern Ontario!

More about Axiom News:

Axiom NewsWe believe there is great power in storytelling. It’s an enabler of strengths, a catalyst for change and a means to propel people and organizations to an inclusive, harmonious and prosperous future, a place where they have their greatest impact.

While storytelling is our skill and occupation, it’s driven by our hopes and aspirations for a better world.

With each organization we serve we take a step towards a better world, a thriving world. It’s our collective efforts to serve a purpose greater than ourselves that will affect The World We Want to See.

Together, we can change the paradigm of what is possible. We can demonstrate through an abundance of personal, practical stories a better way, a strengths-based way to a brighter future.

More about Enterprising Non-Profits, enp:

enpEnp supports the development and growth of social enterprises.  Enp provides resources, technical assistance, workshops, grants and is collaborating on creating an enabling environment for social enterprise across Canada. 


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