Alex Summers’s family started on Alex’s self-employment adventure over two years ago when CLBC service provider AiMHi brainstormed with them about a job that would meet Alex’s goals. Alex is social, likes variety and he needed a job where he can meet new people, and see and do new things. Out of these aspirations was born Alex’s business, Candy Adventures Ltd.
Rory, Alex’s dad, while excited about this possibility for Alex, knew the company needed to be structured in a way that would meet Alex’s unique needs while also protecting his interests. With AiMHi’s assistance, the family was able to access funding from the Ready, Willing & Able national employment initiative which allowed them to work with professionals to incorporate the business before it got underway.
“Supporting your son or daughter to be self-employed takes perseverance, research and preparation,” says Rory. “This is not something you can jump right into. My advice is to seek expertise to build a solid foundation to move forward on.” Rory also stresses the importance of the contributions families make, and making sure that the business is also structured around their needs and availability.
Candy Adventures Ltd. provides candy dispensers at six locations across Prince George, with a variety of candy, like M&Ms and jelly bellies, for people to purchase for a quarter. Two to three times a month, Alex with his support worker visits these locations, refill the dispensers and collect the money. His mother, Beth, rolls the coins and records the amounts; Rory makes the deposits and he and Beth purchase the stock for refilling the dispensers. Alex needs to make at least $100 per month to meet financial commitments for insurance, permits, stock and incorporation fees. During his monthly rounds, Alex and his support network determine if the location is profitable, or if they need to work with AiMHi to develop a different partnership with another business to relocate dispensers. Alex’s goal for his business is to earn money and to grow his business in Prince George.
“It takes a network of people to support Alex’s business but the benefits for him are numerous,” says Rory. “He is proud of his business. It is good for his self-esteem, for building connections in community, as well as providing money in his pocket.”
Exploring the idea of self-employment may seem daunting for individuals and families, but in Alex’s case, the impact is positive and profound. With a little help and ingenuity, a passion or interest can be made into a business that provides connection, self-esteem and increased independence.
Self-Employment Resources for Individuals and Families
The Launching Pad is an innovative approach to helping entrepreneurs with disabilities plan and launch their business: www.launchingpad.biz
The Best Practices for Supported Employment website has tools and resources to assist individuals and their families to think about and plan for self-employment: www.employmentforall.ca/content/what/selfemployment/001.html