Searching for socially conscious entrepreneurs


PARO is searching for socially conscious entrepreneurs who are ready to make a difference in Northern Ontario with business ideas that not only drive the economy but social change, addressing issues that matter to people and the planet. Today, the organization introduced seven new participants to its Social Enterprise for Northern Ontario CoStarter for Change program and made an open call for new applicants. The current SENO participants are:

  • Leslie Boote – Mother Nurture (Thunder Bay)
  • Lorri Kilborn – A Fresh Start (Thunder Bay)
  • Tamara DeGagne – Atikokan’s Finest Youth Employment Initiative (Atikokan)
  • Paul Drombolis & Tony Chiodo – Eat the Fish (Thunder Bay)
  • Kyle Jewett – Sault Skate Part Co-Op (Sault Ste. Marie)
  • Sandra Hodge – Great Lakes Basin & Splash Tile (Sault Ste. Marie)
  • Morgan Richter & Kelli Ebbs – Muskoka North Good Food Co-Op: In Season (Huntsville)

“The SENO CoStarter for Change program is pushing social, economic and environmental innovation in Northern Ontario,” says SENO CoStarter for Change Program Manager Aleksa Shermack. “Over a twelve week period, entrepreneurs use workshop and training sessions, mentoring and peer-to-peer events to develop and operate for-profit and non-profit business ideas”.

Entrepreneurs can watch their idea transform into a sustainable enterprise with access to:

  • Social Enterprise training and business plan development
  • Mentorship
  • Cutting edge technology
  • One-on-one coaching
  • Advisory support from all partners
  • Workspace
  • Networking opportunities

Since its inception in 2013, the program has launched six enterprises across Northern Ontario, creating 56 jobs. Enterprises include the Willow Springs Creative Centre’s Soup & Bread program, which helps people with disabilities work in a kitchen environment, and Blue Mar 4 Change, a sponsorship program helping women around the world sell their wares and receive fair wages.

“The seven entrepreneurs this round, from Huntsville to Thunder Bay to Atikokan, feature a diverse group of ideas that can help Northern Ontario be more sustainable and successful;” continues Shermack. “Ignite social change by developing a business idea rooted in addressing issues that matter to people and the planet.”

This project is supported by The Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure’s Social Enterprise Demonstration Fund, PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise, Nordik Institute (Algoma University), Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre, Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission, Sault Saint Marie innovation Centre, The United Way of Sault Saint Marie, Copperfin Credit Union, BDC and RBC.

Those interested in applying to the SENO program are encouraged to visit:

Kyle Jewett – Sault Skate Part Co-Op (Sault Ste. Marie)
This indoor skate park and lounge will aims to provide an active community space for youth in Sault Ste. Marie. They will be engaging in local community groups and change makers to help create shows and educational programs within the centre. Facilitating youth peer support networks, leadership opportunities, Kyle will work to provide a space for youth to engage in positive activities in their spare time. Kyle is a celebrated change maker who is taking on this large-scale initiative to help youth in his community build better lives and become contributing members of the co-operative.

Sandra Hodge – Great Lakes Basin & Splash Tile (Sault Ste. Marie)
Great Lakes Basin & Splash Tile provides a supportive work environment where creative people can work on life, employment and academic skills while building slay tiles and accessories for kitchen, bath and outdoor living. This social enterprise supports northern manufacturing by sourcing as much of their materials as possible from Northern Ontario. By offering an accommodating environment for people facing barriers to employment, Sandra is working to create a different kind of workplace where employees feel valued and gain transferable skills to help them overcome challenges. Sandra’s unique approach to manufacturing encourages people to shop within the region, while giving her employees a chance to succeed.