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Hope Blooms: Kid Power at Work

November 24, 2013

Hope Blooms1Close your eyes and relax.

Picture a leader in your mind.

What do you see?

Now open your eyes.

Depending on your gender, life experiences and frame of reference, you might have pictured a charismatic leader such as Nelson Mandela, Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton or one from a myriad of other political and corporate leaders.

But did you picture a non-adult? A “kid?”

Maybe you imagined Malala Yousefzai the 16 year-old Pakistani teen who was shot in the head by the Taliban, only to become stronger, now an author, strong advocate for female education in Pakistan and the near winner of the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

I’m looking closer to home: my country, Canada.

This post looks at a group of youth leaders from Halifax, Nova Scotia, who were featured in mid-November 2013 on CBC TV’s hugely popular Dragons Den Dragons Den (its U.S. cousin is Shark Tank).

Hope Blooms is the name of the company founded in 2008 by community dietician Jesse Jollymore in Halifax’s inner city north end. Jollymore had the vision of people self-empowering themselves to make themselves healthy through a diet of natural food. Upon noticing an empty building lot, she had the idea of getting youth involved. Despite her being warned about possible vandalism, the lot blossomed into lush greenery of herbs and vegetables, where some 40 youth work to turn out wickedly good salad dressings. Demand for their superb products has gone through the roof.

Hope Blooms is built upon four key pillars that support its strategy:
1) Social entrepreneurship
2) Ecological agriculture
3) Health
4) Relationship cohesion.

Hope Blooms youth take ownership for the business, and are deadly serious about turning out top quality products. Their hard work and entrepreneurial leadership hasn’t gone unnoticed. Their recognition includes:

• Nova Scotia Department of Economic and Rural Development’s Award for Excellence in Community Development in Social Entrepreneurship Development,
• Black Business Award for Community Heroes,
• AWESOME Foundation Halifax, June 2012 winner.

Hope Blooms Den The kids applied to appear on Dragons Den, where their ask was a mere $10,000 with a 5% royalty until the capital was paid back. No equity was offered.

Following their presentation and the typical slew of grilling questions from the Dragons, Arlene Dickinson, wiping back tears, offered $10,000, but with no royalty. She wanted the money reinvested. Bruce Croxon, eyes wet, offered the same deal. This was followed by Jim Treliving and David Chilton. $40,000 total and NO royalty. Four times the ask. Plain and simple.

I’ve watched Dragons Den and Shark Tank since their inceptions and I’ve never witnessed such an incredible financial response, not to mention emotion. The kids were crying, the adults who accompanied them were crying. The Dragons (except for goofy Kevin O’Leary) were overcome with the entrepreneurial leadership these young kids have shown. Later that evening on CBC’s The National Hope Blooms was profiled.

Hope Blooms is a powerful story of collective self-empowerment by youngsters who shared a vision, had the support of grown-ups who shared the vision, and who had assistance by others such as Canadian soldiers who built a greenhouse for them.

Leadership comes in all sizes. If you haven’t already, take a moment to read an earlier post I wrote on kid leadership featuring Ryan Hreijac who dug wells in Africa.

When I see stories such as Hope Blooms and the one about Ryan Hreijac it gives me great hope for Canada’s future, and that of our planet. The best thing that we adults can do is give our kids space to explore, create and innovate. The worst thing we can do is stand in their way.

Are you ready to be an enabler to helping foster kid power?

When I look at my goal, my goal is peace. My goal is education for every child
– Malala Yousefzai

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 24, 2013 5:53 pm

    You bet, Susan. Lots more youth leadership stories that we’ll hear about.

  2. November 24, 2013 4:29 pm

    What a great story! Had never heard about Hope Blooms. Leadership and passion for a cause among youth. Doesn’t get any better than that.

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