Blazing a new trail: Social enterprise sparks opportunities

By Barbarah Kisschowsky

Zackery Kisschowsky is busy producing and packaging K-lumet fire starters for distribution to customers.

Barbarah Kisschowsky’s son Zackery had difficulty finding employment opportunities that would meet his needs. She shares how an innovative social enterprise helped Zackery find work as well as new opportunities to build social connections.

This article is about my son Zackery as well as a thank you to CLBC. Funding for a work opportunity made a significant transformation happen in Zackery’s life.

Zackery is 29 years old, developmentally delayed and lives with Autism and cerebral palsy. His behavioral difficulties forced him for most of his life to lead a life of isolation. As a parent, I noticed very early in his life that work, duty and responsibilities were important to him.

When he was a young adult, I knew he really want a job. Work can give you a sense of satisfaction. But finding work for him was very difficult to do.

Finding the right fit

K-lumet firestarters are produced using scrap material and can replace kindling in woodstoves, campfires and patio fire bowls.

About six years ago, after several tries involving agencies and personal efforts I bought a franchise in Switzerland called K-lumet. This is internationally known as a successful enterprise which creates self employment opportunities for people with barriers to employment, including those with significant barriers like Zackery. You can find K-lumet organizations throughout European countries. I brought it to Canada and started the website The business produces and distributes fire starters from scrap material. These fire starters replace kindling in woodstoves, campfires and patio fire bowls.

Individualized Funding (IF) (a way of receiving support from CLBC), made it possible to create work for Zackery on Texada Island where I live. Product imports from Germany and Switzerland gave Zackery the opportunity for packaging fire starters into boxes, getting shipments ready for stores and distribution to wholesalers and customers in Canada and the United States. He’s doing very well and demand for the fire starters is high.

Zackery loves his job, is eager to work, and has developed self esteem, self worth and pride. What a change! Often one success leads to another. So it is in Zackery’s case. His language (he is non-verbal), speech and communication have improved. His caregivers and I are amazed about this unexpected development.

Today, Zackery is proud to be a foreman, to teach two others with disabilities how to pack, shelve, and store the products. His next step will be having the confidence to work in a big group, to communicate and to make friends with others. And with his new-found confidence I believe he has a good chance of finally finding a group which gives him a sense of belonging.

Sharing a common goal

For other families who may be exploring self employment or social enterprises, finding a niche often leads to a new opportunity. You do have to be creative and entrepreneurial, but it pays off.

For me, it has paid off in establishing a new, stronger relationship with my son. It’s very much like a partnership. It’s a shift, and I see it with Zackery. Yes, he is my son, but there is this new and different connection as we are working together towards a common ambition. It’s significant to see how this shift happened, naturally.

I know from other families, once they create work together with their child, it’s also like this. There are many niches out there, and all kinds of possibilities. You have to see what works and what would be good.

K-lumet sells packs of fire starters in various quantities through their online store.

Learn more

Learn more about K-lumet and the work they do at:

You can also shop for all of their products at the online store here.

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