Lucia Harrison – Social Enterprise

Lucia Harrison, Executive Director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre, shares her agency’s experience related to developing and nurturing a social enterprise as part of her agency’s plan to diversify funding. What began 15 years ago as an interpretation service with an operating budget of $20,000 has grown to have an operating budget of more than $500,000 in 2012, but Lucia explains that there are many challenges when developing and cultivating a social enterprise. She emphasizes the importance of developing a business plan, mapping out the various risks and ways to mitigate such risks, and understanding the needs of the community in order to ensure there is a viable market for an agency’s product or service. Lucia suggests that one of the most challenging aspects of running a social enterprise is overcoming the challenge of time, “[Giving] enough time to know whether it is going to work and to have the courage to stop of if it’s not going to work.”