When you buy a pack of 13 Muesli, you are buying so much more than a healthy, fresh and delicious product. You are supporting a group of youth entrepreneurs in their social enterprise venture. Thirteen: A Social Enterprise is an initiative of the Parkdale Food Centre that aims to promote healthy eating while providing a group of thirteen teenagers an opportunity to learn about business. This group of innovative young people take responsibility for the business, having undergone training to learn about business processes and created and followed their business plan themselves.
Each participant dedicated an average of ten hours per week making muesli, organizing aspects of the business, attending markets on weekends, and facilitating community partnerships. 13 Muesli is currently in twenty different retail locations around Ottawa, with more planned to carry the product in the future. The initiative has been featured in the media multiple times, is becoming widely recognized throughout the city, and has defied stereotypes that youth can only be participants, not leaders.
One of the members of Thirteen: A Social Enterprise, Thiena Gapfasoni, explained that the biggest success of the program has been the changes it has made in the lives of its members. She explains that, “We have improved personal strengths and communication skills, we are more outgoing, we can sell our products in confidence, even if there are some barriers in terms of language and culture… We have overcome all of that. We know that we are really business people". The project will continue to grow with a new round of youth replacing the recent program graduates, although several graduates are staying on in a mentorship capacity. Thirteen: A Social Enterprise aims to continue adding new ideas and changes to their products.