She knew the group needed to be more self-sufficient and so turned to the idea of starting a social enterprise as the solution.
The Community Youth Network is connected to Pathfinders, an alternative education program offered by the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District. Around the time Community Youth Network was considering starting a social enterprise, Pathfinders was taking in donations of children’s clothing for young parents enrolled in its program.
Buckland said it was then that things sort of clicked for her — why not start a social enterprise providing affordable clothing for families with young children? New and gently used clothing could be sourced through donations and the revenue used to sustain the Community Youth Network’s programs. The store could be staffed by volunteers from both groups along with paid staff hired through youth employment programs.
But she had a problem. Her background is in social work, not business.
All she could think was, how am I going to open up a social enterprise when I have no skills or no knowledge of what to do?
Buckland’s search for help took her to Jacqui Walsh, a business professor at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland. She presented her idea to one of Walsh’s entrepreneurship classes and some members of Enactus Grenfell were among the students. Enactus teams aim to use entrepreneurial action to improve the quality of life and standard of living for people in need through partnerships in the community.
There was some brainstorming on ideas and how the Community Youth Network and the students could work together. When the Community Youth Network had a more defined idea of its plan, Enactus took them on as project.
Samantha Delaney, president of Enactus Grenfell, said the two just seemed to fit.
“They are Community Youth Network, we are business students.”