OneAccessSpace: a social enterprise in development

OneAccessSpace: A Digital Resource for People Affected by Cancer is a new kind of community-based support network. Its founder, Kim Adlard, is seeking financial help at a crucial stage that might be called  “enterprise formation.”  Please contribute and let your networks know about it too. Some good reasons for supporting Kim and OneAccessSpace are set out below. No doubt you will have your own.

To donate and learn more about OneAccessSpace: http://www.csicatalyst.org/projects/50-oneaccessspace-a-digital-resource-for-people-affected-by-cancer (NB requires registration with the crowdfunding app Catalyst CSI, a fairly simple process, please take the time.)

OneAccessSpace is not just a worthy cause, it’s a great example of the very particular and difficult financial  challenges to starting a social enterprise, discussed in this post.

How many ways are there to start a social enterprise?

If you want to get something up and running right away, it might be as simple as telling people what you are doing and getting them involved, either working with you, or joining in/signing up, or hiring you for your service or buying your product.

But many social enterprises are ambitious, requiring organization and technology. Yet they often start out as little more than an inspired idea; an observation that something is profoundly missing and an idea of how to fill that gap. But, as we all know only too well, the worthiness of an idea does not guarantee it will find support. Finding support is difficult.

Case study: OneAccessSpace

A case in point is a new venture called OneAccessSpace. OAS will support people affected by cancer. It proposes to do so by pooling the resources (knowledge, experience and talents) of those same people. It’s about empowerment, creating a network and leveraging it. Like my favourite prototypical social enterprise, the Tool Library, OAS is about uncovering/accessing unused or underutilized resources and enabling people to put them to use.

Like the Tool Library, OneAccessSpace is challenged when it comes to revenue models. The people it aims to empower are not in a position to pay user fees, or if they must (as they do in the case of the Tool Library) they have to be modest to be affordable, too modest to alone support the operation.

Yet, the Tool Library is surviving. In fact, it’s thriving. It’s just too good an idea to fail.

Millions of tools lying idle in hundreds of thousands of basements and garages is just too obviously wasteful and a library an equally obvious way to put them into “circulation.” So people continue to donate tools and the founders of each tool library continue to wrangle money out of wherever to keep their operation afloat while the media builds up their story, their user group/memberships grow and those who can help figure out how. In time, patient persistence will pay off in stable revenue streams, some combination of multi-year government funding, corporate sponsors, private donors and user fees.

OneAccessSpace is  somewhat different. It is not just a great social enterprise idea but addresses a pressing social and health issue. Tool libraries aren’t indispensable but OneAccessSpace could be. People affected by cancer are often in critical situations, requiring supports of all kinds, not only medical.

Kim writes:

“When you look at the full impact of cancer, loss of practical supports, loss of employment, financial security impacted, it becomes pretty scary. And often people are too unwell to do much to about “fixing” things and land in the realm of living under the poverty line.

This happened to me, this happens all of the time. But this crisis is rarely talked about and slow at getting addressed.

Thankfully, waves are starting  happen with studies being released and the beginning of some media attention
http://www.cancer.ca/en/get-involved/take-action/what-we-are-doing/financial-hardship-of-cancer-in-canada-mb/?region=mb

http://www.thestar.com/life/cancerresource/2014/07/02/cancer_diagnosis_can_lead_to_financial_crisis_for_some.html

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-investor/personal-finance/household-finances/a-serious-illness-like-cancer-can-also-damage-a-familys-finances/article14680566/

Unfortunately, with the increase of cancer diagnosis rate, I don’t see this getting better.

People are going to need help. They need help now. And I want to help…and can!

My project focuses on linking people to needed practical supports, which most often are free.

OneAccessSpace is driven by cancer survivors and those who support us. It is my hope that OAS will get to a place where we can pay people for working on the project as we grow our community. There will be many opportunities for this and a plethora of passion and skills to cultivate within the cancer survivor community. Working with OAS, and often this will mean within a modified capacity because of recovering from illness, will enable people affected by cancer who have lost employment and financial stability cobble together some income amidst all the loss and chaos.

The model lends itself to true social purpose enterprise….lifting vulnerable people up.”

Connecting person to cause

Kim reveals compelling underlying reasons that we can all relate to more personally, failures or gaps in support networks that make things worse just when the going gets toughest. No one these days has not been touched by cancer. I relate personally because a friend of mine died of cancer this year. She had managed to keep it at bay, despite all odds, for eight years through a revolving carousel of treatments. Finally the options were exhausted and her body couldn’t cope with the last treatment. For most of the eight years, she was able to work and needed to because the financial support she had was meager. But as she grew more frail, she wasn’t able to work, so on top of the stress of illness, she had to worry about paying the rent and putting food on the table for herself and her 16-year old son.

I’m sure my friend Marta would have loved OneAccessSpace and, as an accomplished documentary script writer, researcher and editor, would have been a keen and valued contributor. OneAccessSpace would have helped her through her participation to find support as support became both more critical and elusive.

OneAccessSpace is a cause worth supporting. It’s too early to know how it will all work but Kim has the skills and experience to figure it out and the patient persistence any social enterprise requires. Building something that introduces new ways of doing things isn’t easy, especially in areas like health where we would rather assume “the system” is the best it can be and will look after everything. It requires continuous effort, enormous emotional investment but also practical, financial support, just like the very people OneAccessSpace is striving to support.

Here’s the donate info again:

http://www.csicatalyst.org/projects/50-oneaccessspace-a-digital-resource-for-people-affected-by-cancer (NB requires registration with Catalyst, CSI, a fairly simple process, please take the time.)

More about OneAccessSpace:

About

OneAccessSpace is an online initiative that fostering empowerment by facilitating knowledge, supports and communities amongst people affected by cancer.
Mission

OneAccessSpace is a first-stop online resource that helps people affected by cancer connect to the support they need while helping us realize our own capacity.

Description

By culling information on services and resources across all cancer communities, OneAccessSpace serves as a first access point to springboard further action.

The components that make up OneAccessSpace are:
• A searchable database of supports and resources across all cancer communities
• A community sharing space which includes articles written by cancer survivors, our support people and wellness professionals showcasing healing-based strategies and experiences.
• An engagement listing which includes special events, educational, volunteer and advocacy opportunities
• OneAccessSpace can be used as a model in other communities with people affected by cancer managing their own local operations

The spirit of OneAccessSpace is proactive community engagement guided by compassion and care.

 

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