By ICIC | August 9, 2023
It’s a brisk Friday morning in the small town of Fort St. John, British Columbia. The smiling faces of seniors steadily make their way into the Bizzybody Training Center. After stopping for refreshments and greeting regulars and newbies, they take their seats and prepare for the competition. Everyone is playing to win at Seniors Grocery Bingo. This weekly gathering has become a staple for this group. The game provides a space for seniors to connect with each other while accessing free healthy groceries, two critical needs previously unaddressed in the community. For Bizzybody Enterprises founder and CEO Jocelyn Eisert, moments like this, when her community members feel a sense of belonging, are exactly why she went into business.
Originally launched in 2008 as Bizzybody Events, the organization was incorporated and renamed in 2021. The transition was one of many on Jocelyn’s entrepreneurial journey, which started in the corporate world. She always knew that she wasn’t meant for a traditional path. While serving as the Executive Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer of Northern Health Authority, she realized that she didn’t fit into the corporate culture. She felt like a round peg in a world of square boxes. This realization motivated her to create a space where she and others like her could belong. To gain experience and confidence, she took on part-time event management contracts while still working. Eventually, she was able to transition to full-time entrepreneurship.
Today, Bizzybody Enterprises is an Indigenous-owned and operated company that offers education and training to entrepreneurs, innovators, leaders, and reinventors from Northern, Indigenous, and New Canadian communities. They provide more than 40 workshops and 8 courses, lasting from 3 to 6 months, with a focus on business and career readiness, employment preparation, entrepreneurial training, and event management.
Like many small business owners, Jocelyn sought ways to improve her company. While searching for funding opportunities, she found the Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) KFC Recipe for Success Mini-MBA Program. It first grabbed her attention because of her love for KFC. “When I saw it was KFC, I knew I needed to at least throw my name in the hat.” As she learned more about the program, she realized it could address some of the challenges she faced in accessing capital and executive education. Jocelyn applied to the program with the hope that participating would help her build relationships and access leadership and executive coaching.
The program exceeded her expectations, providing courses, resources, and virtual meetings that she normally would not have had access to, particularly being from a rural area. “We were really excited!…We don’t usually get to tap into or access these [types of programs] because it’s expensive to travel from our Northern community.” Within the cohort, Jocelyn found a community of like-minded business owners with whom she could learn and grow.
Upon completing the program, Jocelyn was overjoyed to be selected as a finalist for the 2022 ICCC-KFC Recipe for Success Grant. She was in disbelief when she received the news that she was one of five participants awarded the $30,000 CAD grant. “I didn’t believe it at first. Then I read it again, and I read it again, and I was like, ‘Oh, my God, we actually won!’”
The grant is helping Bizzybody to address the needs of their community by providing critical funding to three new initiatives that will be available in the Fall of 2023. These include Seniors Grocery Bingo, which launched as a pilot program in September 2022, The Group, a youth group for individuals on the Autism Spectrum that also launched in 2022, and Metis Monday’s, a program that provides a space for Metis and Indigenous individuals to regularly gather and celebrate their culture in their northern community.
“Without the funds from the grant, we would not have been able to bring these initiatives to life. Supporting community members who require assistance is what we are here for, ” said Jocelyn. The support has been deeply felt by marginalized members of the community. Seniors look forward to seeing the Bizzybody team every Friday at Grocery Bingo and around town. Parents of the youth group members have commented through tears that the invitation to participate in The Group was the first time their teenage child had ever been invited to anything.
For Jocelyn, business is about more than profits. It’s about filling the gap and improving her community one initiative at a time. In doing so, she fosters inclusion, connection, and belonging in her rural corner of Canada.
Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) is a tuition-free executive leadership training program designed by ICIC to help business owners in under-resourced communities build capacity for sustainable growth in revenue, profitability, and employment. ICCC is uniquely designed to provide three critical elements for sustainable growth: capacity-building education, one-on-one coaching, and connections to capital and capital providers.
To learn more and apply, visit icic.org/iccc.
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