By: Shirlyn Kunaratnam
October 18, 2023
In the context of rural Canada, the aging population and youth outmigration have created a need for economic growth and rural development. To address this issue, communities have turned to immigrants as a means to revitalize their economyi. However, these rural areas face challenges in attracting and retaining skilled workers due to their dependency on few industries, as well as limited job opportunities and servicesii.
To address these challenges and foster an inclusive environment for newcomers and immigrants, we can employ the concept of collective entrepreneurship. This approach draws from the best practices of Social and Community enterprises. Social Enterprisesiii and Community Enterprisesiv are concepts utilized in both developed and developing countries to address social issues and promote community well-being in distinct ways. Though these models have been practiced in different contexts, in the rural context, it is important to identify suitable rural entrepreneurship design that is profit-oriented and can benefit many people. In regions with pronounced youth outmigration and aging populations, the concept of collective community entrepreneurship can emerge as a promising solution. This approach involves collaborative efforts among community members to establish and sustain businesses that not only address local economic needs by promoting business opportunities but also provide better income for individuals and families. This will serve to attract and retain youth in rural areas. By generating diverse employment opportunities, preserving traditional knowledge, and providing essential services for the elderly, this strategy fosters a sense of ownership, economic resilience, and cultural identity, ultimately contributing to the revitalization and long-term sustainability of rural communities.
Creating collective community entrepreneurship involves the coming together of three to five like-minded individuals so that they may plan and start a business based on their common interests and strengths. During this process, they also identify their weaknesses – such as lack of finances, infrastructure, or lack of skills – to then seek external support. Organizations that specialize in helping migrants can facilitate this process by providing guidance and assistance in developing necessary skills, offering loans for business startups, helping to create business plans with profit forecasts, and providing ongoing monitoring and guidance. The key advantage of collective community entrepreneurship lies in peer support and shared responsibility. By working together, community members can encourage each other to overcome challenges more effectively. Additionally, the income earned from the collective enterprises benefits multiple community members, which can be advantageous for newcomers.
As these collective enterprises become well-established, they can be transformed into Cooperatives or Community enterprises, further contributing to local economic development due to increased employment opportunities for those in rural Canada. Collective community entrepreneurship offers a promising strategy to create more jobs, expand businesses, attract immigrants, and retain youth in rural Canada – ensuring an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.
Newcomers Women Collective Entrepreneurship
As part of my pursuit of a Master of Arts degree in Rural Development, I will be doing a research project titled “Exploring Entrepreneurship Among Immigrant Women in Brandon.” This research will be conducted with the support of the Rural Development Institute and Westman Immigration Services.
In Rural Canada, migrant women encounter various challenges related to employment such as low wages and limited work-from-home opportunities. These difficulties are exacerbated by the lack of essential facilities such as access to high-speed internet, transportation and limited labor marketsv. A particular issue for newcomer women is the absence of extended family members to assist with childcare responsibilities, alongside limited affordable childcare servicesvi. As a result, many women find themselves staying at home to care for their children while their partners or husbands go to work. This situation can lead to mental stress, as they may feel unable to contribute financially to their families or experience emotional exhaustion from managing household chores and childcare duties throughout the day. These challenges can negatively impact the overall well-being of the familyvii.
By promoting collective entrepreneurship, it may be possible to form home-based businesses, or businesses with flexible hours, allowing rural and newcomer women to work in an environment that accommodates their schedules and responsibilities. This ability to earn an income and financially support their families may also foster feelings of independence and dignity. Collective entrepreneurship also offers a viable solution for women in rural Canada to overcome some employment barriers and achieve a healthy work-life balance. By working together in collective businesses, women may be able to find support, greater opportunities for economic and personal growth, and ultimately contribute to the betterment of their families and communities.
Facilitating the Development of Collective Entrepreneurship
- Community consultation and research: Determine if there are interests among different groups of people regarding the start up of a home-based business, or a flexible business to earn additional income. Determine if people within the community have experience in running a business and have the desire for it. Determine if there are youth groups with ideas to start up businesses but lack skills or capital.
- Identify whether there are marketing opportunities to further explore the target groups’ business ideas.
- Develop a proposal for a pilot project targeting a few groups.
- Develop selection criteria for which collective entrepreneurship groups would be chosen for the pilot program, and be transparent in the selection process.
- Develop a business plan with monthly and annual forecast/ plan with the target groups.
- Identify skills needed and provide training.
- Provide loan facilities to start up a business.
- Register these businesses with local authorities.
- Provide guidance to monitor their own progress and improve it – it would be better if the serving organizations could monitor the progress along with the groups until they are empowered to monitor their own progress.
- Annually evaluate the business and learn the challenges and best practices.
- Once these enterprises are well established, discuss future planning. Ensure that the Cooperative or Community enterprises models are explored.
iii Finegan, T., & Cawley Buckley, M. (2022). Enhancing well-being and social connectedness of rural communities through community shops. Community Development Journal. Page 3 https://doi.org/10.1093/cdj/bsac003
iv Dupuis, A., & de Bruin, A. (2018). Community entrepreneurship. In Entrepreneurship: New perspectives in a global age (pp. 109-127). Routledge. https://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=mV-1DwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA109&dq=the+concept+of+community+entrepreneurship&ots=wHoIrkDW1e&sig=ebOK5UaVm0kEPdciMpV7oEv9MvA#v=onepage&q=the%20concept%20of%20community%20entrepreneurship&f=false
v Government of Canada. (2019). Women in Canada: A gender-based statistical report. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/en/pub/89-503-x/89-503-x2015001-eng.htm
vi Chai, C. (2022). Picturing settlement experiences: Immigrant women’s senses of comfortable and uncomfortable places in a small urban center in canada. Journal of International Migration and Integration, 23(3), 1567-1598. https://10.1007/s12134-021-00903-4