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Colin Smith launched a new career and a successful social enterprise off the edge of a snowboard.

Before 2013, Smith was a journeyman electrician who volunteered at events like
Sled Island and Market Collective in his spare time. When he broke his arm in a snowboarding accident and couldn’t continue working in his trade, he took on an event planning position for Village Brewery in Calgary. The experience brought home for Smith something that had concerned him about his other favourite events. “There was just so much waste. I loved being part of them, but I hated seeing heaping trash cans at the end of the day.”

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Smith decided to step up. In 2012, he launched
Green Event Services, offering recycling and waste management and diversion services for events. By 2015, Green Event Services had participated in over 150 events, diverted 90 tons of waste from the landfill, employed over 100 people, and served over one million event attendees by providing waste reducing options.

The company’s good work hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2015, Green Event Services received the Calgary Chamber Small Business Award for Environmental Stewardship. But it’s the less tangible successes that really make Smith smile. “Last summer, I employed more than 80 people and paid them a living wage to do meaningful environmental work. I feel proud about that.”

 

Smith is aspirational about the impact of his social enterprise, but he’s also a pragmatist. “For a small business, cash is king,” says Smith, who balances the books with staff, an office, a warehouse and an array of waste management inventory. It’s why he’s glad he’s been able to look to his credit union for support.


“My credit union has been a partner to me,” says Smith. “I know that they see value in a social enterprise beyond the bottom line.”

Read about how Ashleigh's career helps her pay it forward >>

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