By Bhavana Gopinath –
An upcoming episode of CBC’s Dragons’ Den might feature Kitchissippi’s very own Thirteen: A Social Enterprise. The intrepid marketers of Thirteen recently auditioned for the show, and are excited about their chances.
As Glodie Iragi, one of the Thirteen, says, “It was a big opportunity for Thirteen Muesli that we have never experienced before.” They prepared, rehearsed, and presented their pitch to the producers of the show, and are waiting to hear back. They’ve asked the Dragons for $20,000 in return for a 5% stake in the business, and they intend to return the money once they’ve reached their goals. They hope to use the funds to grow their business and they are also hoping to benefit from the Dragons’ mentoring.
These kids have come a long way. In 2015, Parkdale Food Centre launched this food-based social enterprise to help disadvantaged youth establish and run a business selling muesli. The idea was to teach the kids business skills and help pay for their education. They started with $2800; they have now had sales of about $20,000.
Sarah Stewart, Thirteen’s team leader and mentor-in-chief, couldn’t be prouder. “Thirteen is doing so well, it’s awesome,” she says.
The muesli is available in several area stores, like Thyme & Again, Red Apron, and C. A. Paradis. There are plans to sell online, and volunteers from Shopify have offered to help.
Mentors from the community and beyond have come forward to help Thirteen. The kids underwent a business boot camp last August, with a roster of business owners, marketing experts, nutritionists, and team builders. One of these mentors was Justin Holness, whose UN1TY Entertainment hosts Ottawa’s annual Indigenius Art, Fashion & Music Festival. The Thirteen kids have written a song about their work, and are going to perform at the Third Annual Indigenius Art, Music + Fashion Show on March 26, at the Centrepointe Theatre.
The youngsters have a characteristically optimistic outlook about their chances of a television appearance. Landry Kalembo, an aspiring doctor, says, “Anything that will come as a result of our audition will be a product of excellent team work and great support from the mentors.”
While waiting to hear back from Dragons’ Den, they continue to pursue their dreams: they want to mentor more kids and grow the business. They’re hoping to use the Dragons’ funds to invest in an oat farm and larger storage facilities. They are also exploring alternatives for grants to help them sell at farmers’ markets and craft shows.
Whatever the outcome of the audition may be, the Dragons’ Den experience has, as Thiena Gapfasoni, Ottawa U student, says: “It gave me the courage to dream big and hope that our dreams can come true.”
Details about the performance on March 26 are availalable at centrepointetheatre.ca. Tickets are $45 each, but $35 with the code #13muesli. $5 from every ticket goes directly to the Thirteen program.