Alberta Social Enterprises That are Doing Business Right
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What’s in a name? For Dave and Hannah Cree, co-founders of CMNGD, plenty. When the Calgary couple launched their linen-service company—pronounced “common good”—they wanted its name to reflect their core mission. “Everything that we do within the business is for the common good of people, the planet and profit for purpose,” Hannah explains. They wanted something clever to stand out in people’s memories. They also learned it’d be easier to secure “CMNGD” than “commongood” as a website domain name.
Founded in 2016 out of the Crees’ desire to build a business that would give back to their city, CMNGD rents out linens—uniforms, napkins, table cloths and the like—to Calgary area restaurants, and offers transitional employment to help those in need get back on their feet. The company has a deep-rooted partnership with the Calgary Drop-in & Rehab Centre: not only did it offer CMNGD after-hours use of its laundry facility, it’s also the well from which prospective employees—who range from occasional drop-in workers to longer-term staff—are drawn.
“The Centre has a fantastic attitude and has been a really great partner,” Dave says. “They’ve helped us source the people who need help the most, and the people we feel are going to be successful at transitioning.”
In its infancy, the company also benefitted from Business Link’s webinars and events, including meet-and-greet opportunities with business experts, and a helpful legal-advice chat. Hannah says she was also amazed by the breadth of information—“everything from how to incorporate a company to how to market it”—available free of charge through Business Link.
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“What struck me was how much they offered. The fact that you can call them anytime and say, ‘Hey, I need some advice,’ is so important,” Hannah says. “The work that they do to support entrepreneurs in all of Alberta is really important to our [entrepreneurial] ecosystem.”
CMNGD currently services 15 local restaurants and their response has been tremendous, due in part to the affordability of CMNGD’s services and the unique relationship the company builds with its clients. “We promote the restaurants on social media,” Hannah says. “We look at them as partners… We always talk about them and they talk about us too.”
For now, CMNGD is operating locally, and will expand its services thanks to a new, much-larger laundry facility. Going forward, the Crees hope to be able to service upwards of 50 restaurants, and want to share their business model: They believe CMNGD’s approach could help develop transitional job-training programs in other industries. At the very least, it could inspire other business owners to follow their lead. “We’ve had a lot of businesses come to us and say, ‘I want to do that, but I don’t know how,’” Hannah says.
“Maybe your company hires one person who has a barrier to employment. Maybe you look deeper at how you’re sourcing your materials. There are so many ways you can be thoughtful in your business and community, and that’s what we want to encourage others to do.”