Social enterprise receives funding boost

Pet Treat Bakery in Courtenay received $15,000 in grants from TELUS and the Vancity Community Foundation.

Susan Bunn

Too much business.

Such is the “problem” faced by Pet Treat Bakery in Courtenay, which received $15,000 in grants from TELUS and the Vancity Community Foundation at a recent event.

The Beaufort Association-owned bakery operates as a social enterprise business, employing adults with developmental disabilities. It supplies numerous Vancouver Island retailers and vet clinics with an assortment of pet treats: pig ears, duck feet, dehydrated beef, pork and bison liver, chicken breast, and a range of baked ‘cookie’ treats.

“I think we got into the right product at the right place at the right time,” Beaufort’s executive director Susan Bunn said, noting steady growth in the pet food industry in recent years.

According to 2011 figures, there are more than 28 million pets in Canada.

“We have customers on our wait list,” she said.

The association undertook the Community Living British Columbia 10×10 challenge to increase employment for developmentally disabled adults by 10 per cent in 2010. For its efforts, the bakery was nominated for a CLBC W.O.W. (Widening Our World) award.

The bakery started with four employees in January, 2010. Since then, sales have increased 130 per cent and the workforce has grown to 18, 11 of whom work in a dehydration plant.

One of the workers, Roberta Williams, likes the perk of “having money on the weekends.”

Bunn was brought to tears when the $15,000 was announced at the sixth annual Social Enterprise Heroes event hosted by Enterprising Non-profits April 16 in Vancouver. It was more money than Beaufort had requested. The funds could enable the bakery to purchase at least two new dehydrators, which would help increase capacity by 50 per cent and hire eight new employees.

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