k-lumet, a local social enterprise, is seeking community support to open its production facility in the Townsite Market in early spring.
The company makes an environmentally friendly firestarter and provides jobs to those with disabilities and barriers to employment. It is currently aiming to raise $10,000, but contributions are still needed and time is running out.
“February 16 is the cutoff date for the crowd fund,” said sales and marketing manager Moriah Inkster. “This project is so close but we just need a bit more funding.”
Originally developed in Switzerland in 1995 and franchised throughout Europe, Texada Island resident Barbarah Kisschowsky purchased the licensed k-lumet franchise for Powell River and Texada Island in 2013. Kisschowsky’s original intent was to employ her son Zackery, who is impacted by an intellectual disability.
“Inclusion Powell River came on in the last year with a joint-venture agreement,” said project manager Leni Goggins. “They co-own the company for the next three years while we’re piloting this project.”
The pilot idea is to launch the business in Powell River and see if it’s sustainable while also conducting a research project on employing people with intellectual disabilities in manufacturing.
The group has received funding through Powell River Community Forest, First Credit Union and Vancity Credit Union. Receiving the grant from Vancity was a big deal, said Goggins, as Powell River is outside its catchment, but they recognized how innovative the project is.
“k-lumet can have a franchise model so they wanted to support us with the intention of franchising into Vancouver eventually,” she added. “It has a huge potential for employing a lot more people than just in Powell River.”
The business model in BC will pay workers minimum wage or higher and offer workplace accommodations such as specialized equipment and support to create a truly inclusive work space.
It is critical for the group to meet its fundraising goal by February 16, said Inkster.
“It’s one of those crowdfunding campaigns that is an all-or- nothing style,” she added, “so we have to meet the goal or we don’t receive the funding at all.”
Currently, roughly $2,000 has been donated. It would not take that many more donors to make it a success, said Goggins.
“We’re at 20 per cent of our goal and that’s only 30 people who have donated,” she added. “We live in a town of more than 10,000 people, so if we can get to 100 more people that’s probably our goal.”
To boost engagement, the group is hosting a live fundraising event at the site of its future manufacturing facility at the upper level of Townsite Market.
Kindle Your Flame with k-lumet takes place from 3 to 6 pm on Thursday, February 14. Attendees will be able to view the production space as well as have Valentine’s Day-themed photos taken at a photo booth and enjoy treats.
The hope is that this funding will allow the venture to open its manufacturing facility in the market on April 1 and begin hiring workers, said Inkster. Demand for the product is already exceeding supply, she added.
“A lot of places focus on hiring people with disabilities and barriers but not in manufacturing,” said Inkster. “We are already known as an inclusive community but there’s a huge potential with this company to put Powell River on the map, not just for what we’re already known for, but also for this new sector.”
To donate to the crowdfunding campaign online, go to startsomegood.com/k-lumet-kindle-a-fire.