How purpose is helping Glooscap Ventures’ community grow

Allison Murray

Published September 04, 2018
in Case Studies

By Allison Murray

Company: Glooscap Ventures
Locations: Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia
Industry: Diversified Retail, Seafood and Food Processing and Renewable Energy
Size: Medium (100+ employees)

“Vendors and customers are asking questions about B Corp, and maybe pushing themselves to do better.” – Desiree Stockermans, Operations Manager, Ocean Sonics

Glooscap Ventures' purpose

To encourage growth and economic potential for our First Nation community to ensure that it is sustainable and prosperous into the future.

Growing with purpose

Glooscap Ventures is the economic development and business development arm of the Glooscap First Nation. The company has grown quickly in the past six years, moving into new industries and expanding from five to over a hundred employees.

The company now consists of a variety of different businesses, including on-reserve retail and gaming centres as well as fisheries and seafood processing, clean energy, professional services consulting and international food processing.

A new model

Glooscap First Nations is located in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia and has around 400 members, 75 of whom live on-reserve. Despite its smaller size, Glooscap Ventures makes a significant contribution to the regional economy.

“Glooscap is very much a leader in economic development and business development in First Nation communities. We have quickly become the model that people are looking at and towards for their own their own business ventures in First Nation communities,” says Claude O’Hara, Vice President of Business Development at Glooscap Ventures.

In the past five years Glooscap Ventures has diversified into a broad range of industries, looking to new opportunities to add value, export and innovate. “We are thinking outside the box continuously,” says O’Hara. “We are looking at where we can do the value-add and how we can move things up that value chain. And I think that’s the difference for us.”

One example of this is their new partnership with a Greek feta cheese producer in northern Greece. Glooscap Ventures plans to import feta in bulk, add value to the base ingredient (such as creating flavoured feta), and then sell the final product to domestic and international markets.

In all of their business ventures and partnerships, they are focused on education and building capacity in their community, a direct link to their purpose. O’Hara credits the leadership of Chief Peters for creating and championing this model of economic and community development.

Consumers are demanding more

89% of consumers have said there is a strong likelihood they would buy from companies that support solutions to particular social issues. (EY Beacon Institute, 2015)

Partners in purpose

Glooscap Ventures’ approach to sustainability and their purpose helps them to attract like-minded business partners who, says O’Hara, “openly promote the First Nations partnership and take great pride in what we are able to achieve together.” And with the feta cheese partnership, for example, their Greek partners share their values around community building and land stewardship. Partnerships, which are a central part of their diversification model, also include collaborations with municipal and provincial partners.

Good stewardship

The company is finding opportunities for their seafood in Europe, spurred by a demand for sustainable and socially responsible products. “We’re seeing success in our Glooscap seafood brand in Europe and a lot of that has to do with our whole philosophy on being true stewards of the water and the land,” says O’Hara. “Customers will reward you for good work and good stewardship.”

Community focus

Their purpose is central to everything they do. No matter what aspect of the business, their purpose guides them as they consider how a decision or initiative will impact their community. The company, which is wholly owned by the Glooscap First Nations community, reinvests profits into that community. Initiatives such as a new community centre, a health centre, and youth programs and senior programs bring tangible benefits to community members.

Their vision isn’t just limited to their own community. Their approach to business is a model for other First Nations communities to learn and benefit from. And they consider neighbouring communities and customers of their businesses to be their stakeholders as well. “We are a small rural First Nations community making a major impact on our entire region,” says O’Hara.