News and Events

Opportunity for creative collaboration exists with social enterprise

June 28, 2021

The prospect of a social enterprise for Medicine Hat College’s (MHC) Art and Design program is one step closer to reality, thanks to a feasibility study funded by the Community Foundation of Lethbridge and Southwestern Alberta.

Serving two purposes, the social enterprise would provide work terms for Art and Design students while meeting the design needs of the local non-profit sector. With a focus on delivering core programs and services, many non-profit organizations do not have the resources available to address marketing and promotional activities that could increase their awareness and impact in the community.

Over the past two months, MHC students Arberesha Salihu and Lanette Williams connected with local non-profits to better understand the challenges they faced and explore how a social enterprise could support their efforts. The students also interviewed art and design students and various college departments to assess how this structure would fit within the institution.

The response was overwhelming positive and valuable connections were made, resulting in an opportunity to pursue a social enterprise and support the non-profit sector with high quality design services. From website maintenance and social media management to promotional materials and video creation, Salihu and Williams identified the demand for design talent is high and diverse.

Using a business model to achieve a social purpose, the proposed enterprise would employ two students part-time annually to deliver the design and printing services in need by non-profits within a fee structure sensitive to their limited budgets. The final project report also made a recommendation for a part-time management/mentorship position to provide guidance and support to the students and ensure long-term viability of the enterprise. The next step in the process is to secure a startup grant to help cover initial costs with the goal of launching the enterprise in 2022.

“After going behind the scenes of a non-profit organization to see how they operate and the daily challenges they go through, I appreciate their role in our community even more. The network I built is really amazing because everyone in one way or another is connected and having that connection is helpful to be successful one day,” explains Salihu, now in her third year of the art and design program.

She adds that having this opportunity not only increased her confidence with public speaking and research, but her passion for her chosen field of art and design as well.

Williams was also grateful for the chance to expand her knowledge, strengthen her skill set, and give back to the community.

“This experience helped me to see that the Medicine Hat College values student success and the development of the community. I am proud to be part of an institution that has those values,” says Williams, who is studying early learning and childcare at MHC.

“I thought about the possibility of establishing a social enterprise of my own focusing on an area of interest that is needed in the community. I believe that knowledge and skills should be used in the most effective way possible for the benefit of humanity and I am motivated to do just that.”