In Winnipeg, Inner City Development (ICD), Inc. looks like a success. One of its businesses is turning a profit while training and employing Aboriginal Canadians in construction work with good wages and benefits. Other subsidiaries will soon try to bring the same standards to janitorial work and property management.
Yet General Manager Marty Donkervoort questions ICD's sustainability as a firm and its replicability as a model. ICD strives for a blend of social and financial goals and skills that are uncommon in managers experienced in the competitive construction sector. The company's success can also be traced to a "charmed" start-up, assisted by partners possessing both resources and patience. Without this singular convergence of circumstances and leadership, ICD would not have survived its first four years. All these factors are unlikely to apply as ICD expands, when Marty retires, or in some other location altogether.
What then can others learn from ICD? That the quality of potential managers, partners, and workforce is as important to a social enterprise as market share; and that its success may be measured not in longevity or replicability, but in the way it raises people's expectations of themselves and one another.