Entrepreneurs often have a fire-in-the-belly drive towards reaching their goals.
In Canada, we’re incredibly lucky to have businesses that put that passion towards making a difference for everyone.
When we give back, it creates an all-round good feeling in our community, and this is what Desjardins is championing through the GoodSpark program. Social entrepreneurs were invited to submit ideas that can help young Canadians reach their full potential, addressing areas like education, employment and entrepreneurship, health and healthy living, and social engagement.
Any small business owner can tell you it takes a village to get up and running, and support is incredibly valuable.
The thing is, socially responsible ventures can also make a profit. That’s why Desjardins selected nine entrepreneurs to take part in their GoodSpark program on Dragons’ Den. If you missed it, don’t worry. We’ve rounded up three Canadian companies that pitched to perfection.
Canadian entrepreneur Rich Gupta was frustrated by the lack of healthy options to feed her family, especially when it came to condiments filled with hidden sugars.
This inspired her to launch Good Food For Good, a line of organic condiments made without gluten, soy, corn, refined sugars, or preservatives. Gupta wants to set a good example for her daughter at every opportunity she can, and she has committed to donating a meal to someone in need with every bottle sold.
Already, she has donated more than 249,786 meals through Food Banks Canada, the Akshaya Patra Foundation, and LA Food Banks. The company received $70,000 from Desjardins’ GoodSpark program to help it reach its goal to feed one million people by 2020.
Good Food for Good is leading the way in sustainability, too, and has become one of the world’s 3,132 B Corp Certified companies.
On Dragons’ Den, Gupta made a great impression with her charitable initiative. She was seeking $200K for a 10% share in the business and struck a deal with Manjit Minhas and Michele Romanow ($200K for 30%).
Do you ever think about where the money you spend on cosmetics actually goes? Jenn Harper does, which led her to create Cheekbone Beauty, a cosmetics company that manufactures Canadian-made lipsticks that are never tested on animals.
As a mother of two from the Niagara region, she’s creating a legacy for her children with a social business model that gives back — 10% of all profits go to support Indigenous education and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (FNCFCS). This allows Harper to support youth workshops through donations, and help a charity that’s working to close the educational funding gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. As part of the GoodSpark program, Harper received $50,000 from Desjardins to create scholarships for First Nations children.
On Dragons’ Den, Cheekbone Beauty was well received. However, the entrepreneur turned down two deal offers ($125K for 50% from Vincenzo Guzzo and $125K for 30% from Arlene Dickinson) to maintain ownership.
At this time of the year, we all wear our ugly festive sweaters at least once (if even just for the Instagram photos). But instead of designing sweaters that act only as a novelty, Ottawa-based entrepreneur Jasmine Begin is making an impact with Wear it Forward, a collection of “Not-so-Ugly” Christmas sweaters.
When Begin was a child, she suffered third-degree burns, resulting in her spending a lot of time at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO). Today, she’s giving back: $5 from each purchase of her clothing line is donated to children’s hospitals or one of eight charities of the purchaser’s choice.
Wear it Forward actively works with the Children’s Miracle Network and recently sent $20K to CHEO in Ottawa. Meanwhile, on Dragons’ Den, Begin’s passion in her company and its philanthropic mission made a big impression on the investors. However, they deemed it was too early for investment at this time with a seasonal product.
The company still came out a winner in the end. Through the GoodSpark program with Desjardins, Wear it Forward has received $20,000 to support its charitable initiatives.
It’s often difficult to predict what the future of business will look like, but one thing is for sure: the impact that socially conscious ventures have on a community is remembered for a very long time.
GoodSpark works to support Canadian entrepreneurs who are on a mission to do good in the world. As Canada’s largest financial cooperative, Desjardins has been connected to the community for over 100 years and is passionate about continuing to invest in socially conscious ventures.