Youth Led Social Enterprise and Scholars of Excellence
This is a year-round program where youth learn hands-on, how to create, build, and sustain a social business.
The program includes education in:
- business plan development
- financial literacy
- customer and community engagement
- determinants of health
- food safety and agri-food based business
- sustainability development
- social impact
The youth are evaluated throughout the year, and those who show true dedication to their businesses are eligible to participate in our yearly Dragons Den’s pitch. Here, the youth pitch their ideas to our core team, and one of them is selected to have their product funded and marketed under the Hope Blooms brand! When selected, the youth do everything hands on. From photoshoots and label designing, to researching packaging and shipping costs, to the break down of production costs and social media management.
We currently have 3 social enterprises up and running. Our Hot Cocoa Boys, Possibili-teas, and Oh My Jewels.
The Hot Cocoa Boys started their enterprise in 2019. They wanted their own business, and actually started with a lemonade business in the summer. When the weather changed and things got colder, they realized that hot chocolate might have a higher profit in the winter months. This launched Hot Cocoa Boys! Their first act of giving back was to put a basketball court up in the community. The younger youth often had a hard time playing on the same courts as the older kids, so an extra court meant extra space for them. They also helped raise funds for a play structure to be put up in our park, and are currently raising money for a mobile music studio. The current members are Maziah Clayton, Taymar Mintis, and Fabian Colley.
The Possibili-teas were started by a group of now alumni in 2018. They were interested in the dressing, but really wanted something of their own to take control of and work on. They decided on teas as they could be hot or cold and were becoming a large trend. Aicha Wade’s family comes from Senegal, and through them we were able to connect with a group of single mother farmers in the SouthEast of Senegal. We purchase hibiscus from them for double fair trade and have created a deeper connection with them. There are currently two flavours of tea – Happy Hibiscus and Matcha. The mint and blueberries in the teas are locally grown and all organic. The tea girls are raising money to create food gardens in other equity deserving communities across the province for other youth to get involved in gardening and social entrepreneurship.
Oh My Jewels is our newest social enterprise, which is just getting off the ground and running. Started by three youth and set to launch at our summer’s farmers market, their goal is to bring different cultures together with beading. Jurni Robinson, Venessa Ukeje and Weam Abojesh come from a range of backgrounds. They bring cultures of Indigenous, Syrian, and African Heritage into their work. They are currently raising money for leadership camps for other youth in the community.
The Scholarship Fund
The scholarships are funded through the sale of our Fresh Herb Dressings. A portion of every bottle sold contributes to the fund; as the scholarship fund grows each year, so do the award amounts. Currently, our scholarship supports 13 youth who are in their post-secondary or other educational journeys. Each youth will receive $4000 for every year they are in post secondary education, and we are giving out $64,000 dollars total this fall. To date, we have given out over $150,000 in scholarships. Each youth is also supported year round, wether they need a grocery trip or a care package, Hope Blooms supports them in everything.
cxdrMamadou Wade in the greenhouse that helped grow his scholarships.
In 2016 Mamadou Wade, the 1st Hope Blooms member, graduated from high school. He received an $8,000 Hope Blooms scholarship, through sales of our dressings, and won a $70,000 TD Community Leadership Scholarship award. Mamadou graduated in 2020 from the University of Toronto with a degree in Management and Information Technology.
Jobs in the Community
Hope Blooms also assists with application processes, and hires graduates if they are available during summers between studies.
When participants reach 16 years old, they start jobs in Hope Blooms. This past year we employed 6 of our youth over the summer, and 3 adults. Through education in contributing to community development, these youth worked with a group of 12 seniors from the community, teaching them social entrepreneurship skills. They started growing edible flowers to sell at a local restaurant, and put 100% of the proceeds into a senior’s lunch program.
We serve an Elders lunch every Thursday for local community members.