It’s Not ‘Game Over’ if a Founder Sells their Social Enterprise

It’s Not ‘Game Over’ if a Founder Sells their Social Enterprise

Author: Ida Viani

The Trico Social EnterPrize is a biennial award celebrating Canada’s social enterprise ‘stars’ –  organizations that have reached such heights of best practice, impact and innovation in social enterprise their example can help others navigate their own social impact journey. This blog series provides an update on the journey of some of our previous recipients.

2013 Social EnterPrize recipient TurnAround Couriers (TAC) was the brainchild of Richard Derham. Since the TAC case study commissioned in 2015, we had a chance to catch up with this driven and innovative recipient. One of many note-worthy accomplishments in Richard’s 15 years as Founder of the package delivery company was when he added 6 levels of service for bicycle and walking courier service in Toronto with the ground-breaking idea of a guaranteed 30 minutes delivery of order placement. Richard explains:

“The 30 minute guarantee was quite novel. There were only 1-3 hour delivery guarantee options and no one at the time was doing ASAP.”


Richard Derham

Richard also implemented food delivery and the final mile into TAC’s business plan successfully. Wanting to try something new, Richard decided to “switch gears” and his journey now takes him to Opportunity For All Youth, which works with community employment agencies to provide training and work experience for vulnerable youth. Richard is very proud that he was able to exit TAC and still keep the social mission in place, which many Founders and CEO’s are not able to do successfully. Richard remarks:

“It has been 18 months since I’ve sold the business and everything is ticking along like it used to. This might give some hope to people that it’s not game over if the founder sells their business.”

And it indeed was not game over for Richard. He had heard about Opportunity For All Youth a few months after he sold TAC, became instantly smitten with it, and was eventually offered the opportunity to lead the initiative. It is a new national initiative to not only hire at risk youth but to also retain and promote them. Richard is no doubt leveraging both the wisdom and credibility he gained through TAC to lead this initiative that will bring together 8 major employers (the likes of Walmart, Telus and Starbucks) to hire 40,000 youth facing employment barriers over the next five years. Richard explains:

“For many of the coalition of employers that work with Opportunity For All Youth, it is altruism to a point but for most they do it because they need talented staff and they really struggle to fill entry level positions. We are there to bridge the gap between employers and youth.”

Opportunity hiring events are now in place across Canada to generate jobs and galvanize community leaders and targeted youth. Following Opportunity for All Youth’s birth place of Toronto, they have now launched in Calgary and Montreal and will continue year round in other areas of Canada.

Richard’s journey with TAC and Opportunity For All Youth is another example of how social entrepreneurship can stem from pivoting in a new direction and thinking about succession planning of your social enterprise. This is a pattern Trico Foundation and others are seeing in terms of scale: it isn’t necessarily a bigger social enterprise, it is about using the knowledge you gained from the social enterprise in a different way on a whole new level.

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