Sarah Cook, Executive Director, SeaChange Marine Conservation Society, Investment Readiness Program

Social Enterprise: Increasing Community Impact

Once again, the Victoria Foundation has been a part of the Government of Canada’s $50 million investment to develop innovative solutions to Canada’s pressing social, cultural, and environmental challenges.

With support from Community Foundations of Canada and Coast Capital Savings, in 2023, the Victoria Foundation awarded $525,000 to 18 social-purpose organizations and associations to launch investment-ready projects across the Vancouver Island region. To date, the Investment Readiness Program (IRP) has brought over $1 million to the region to help social purpose organizations increase community impact.

Island organizations, including social enterprises, non-profits, charities, and co-operatives, were eligible to apply for up to $75,000 in funding to create, manage, and expand social enterprises. This program brings additional funds to our region that help organizations generate revenue for greater impact and financial sustainability, while growing the capacity for social enterprise and investment readiness.

Cowichan Green Community — Diversifying Revenue Streams

The Cowichan Green Community (CGC) has cultivated food, community, and resilience in the Cowichan Valley since 2004. Executive Director, Judy Stafford, shared, “We’ve been running several social enterprises for quite some time. We have a landscaping business that started 14 years ago, we own our building which provides rental revenue, and we have our low-cost grocery store. We also have a farm map, two farms, and a magazine, and all of them generate revenue for us.”

The CGC is using the funds to potentially acquire a successful local business that currently uses products from CGC’s food recovery program to create value-added products to sell in the community.

SeaChange — Marketing for a Cause

The SeaChange Marine Conservation Society (SMCS) works with community groups and First Nations to map, monitor, and restore eelgrass habitat and riparian areas. Recently, SMCS acquired ShoreZone, a coastal habitat mapping service that collects and shares georeferenced imagery of North America’s Pacific coast, from Oregon to Alaska and everywhere in between. This was a unique opportunity to convert a for-profit business into a non-profit social enterprise.

Sarah Cook, newly appointed executive director for SMCS, shared their plans for the IRP funding. “I realized that our digital footprint is lacking. Our website isn’t particularly user-friendly, and we have a minimal social media presence. I’m a biologist, and this is not my area of expertise, so we proposed to hire someone to help us develop a brand and marketing strategy to communicate what we do for the community.”

Visit to learn more about the Investment Readiness Program.