Central City Foundation donors support social entrepreneurs at Groundswell public market

Groundswell is an alternative business school that gives students the tools, mentorship and community to build a social venture that helps solve real world problems. With funding from Central City Foundation donors, Groundswell alumni are sharing their businesses, mission and skills with the public on Granville Island.

Central City Foundation believes in building the capacity of people to bring about positive change in their own lives and their community – a belief that Groundswell shares. Since 2012, Groundswell has served 100 aspiring social entrepreneurs including marginalized youth, immigrants, people faced with precarious employment, and living in eastside Vancouver. Collectively, they have launched 30 social businesses, creating 65 jobs.

Building capacity does not end once class is over and Groundswell has taken a further step by providing their alumni the opportunity to showcase their ventures at the Groundswell market every Tuesday this summer and fall.

CCF donors provided Groundswell with funding for basics like tables, chairs, tents and signage.

“We’re working with young entrepreneurs who don’t have a lot of resources,” said Gilad Babchuk, Director of Groundswell. “We want to make the market affordable and accessible for our alumni and the funding from Central City Foundation gave us everything that makes us look great.”

Granville Island is a hub for like-minded consumers who shop local and the market is an opportunity to showcase Groundswell’s collaborative economy model and gain exposure.

Jessica Valentine with the Woodshop Workers Co-op spends her Tuesdays at the market to connect with people and potential clients. The members of the Woodshop were one of the first cohorts to come through Groundswell and they have successfully grown their reclaimed wood custom furniture and design business over the past few years.

Central City Foundation helped fund their first project through a grant to Groundswell which allowed them to build the learning space for the program.

The portfolio piece helped them build upon their business and now they work closing with other non-profits like Hives for Humanity to provide opportunity for those with barriers to employment.

“Groundswell helped us discover the foundation of the idea and launch Woodshop into the marketplace,” said Valentine. “They offered education, tools and support that helped us go out into the world.”

Now the world is sitting on their upcycled benches during the busiest time of year on Granville Island.

“We can’t get these benches up fast enough before someone is sitting on them,” said Valentine. “It’s really amazing to watch people sitting and eating with their family and just enjoying the market.”

The Groundswell market will continue into September and will be popping up all over town this winter.