Northern Hills Connect Initiative Thriving as Entrepreneurs Move Forward

Byline: NHC Team

Following the successful launch of the Northern Hills Night Market in 2017 by Ian McAnerin, Northern Hills Connect (NHC) is already seeing results to their new Initiative ‘1 Year, 1 Business’, launched in January. ‘1 Year, 1 Business’ is the focus for NHC on 2018 – bringing one Northern hills based social enterprise business to launch in 2018, and working towards the overall goal of 5 social enterprises over the next 5 years.

The group met in January to award September pitch competition participants their prize money, and progress reports shared at that event indicated that several of the entrepreneurs involved with the group are moving forward with their business ideas.

One of those entrepreneurs is Stephanie Paull, a graphic designer residing in the community, and a hopeful candidate to launch a socially driven enterprise in the next year. “The group is filled with truly amazing and inspiring people who

offered the support I needed to lift off. I’m really grateful to be a part of it all,” said Stephanie, who helped brand the Northern Hills Night Market, and designed the NHC logos.

At the NHC Pitch Competition in fall 2017, Stephanie pitched her idea Kindlii: a platform connecting neighbours in an online marketplace which utilizes the auctioning system. “Buying and selling locally can be a fun thing! It should be community driven. I am designing a system that is simple, very efficient and truly different from what all the other platforms have to offer.”

Since the pith competition, NHC has helped connect Stephanie with the resources to progress. “I was referred to attend a feasibility study at Momentum where I then applied for and was accepted into the Self Employment Program. The course will help me build a solid Business Plan which I intend to launch with this year.”

Support from community partners has been key in moving the initiatives forward. Prize money for the fall 2017 pitch competition was provided by Arusha Centre, and Manifest Church. Brad, with manifest church, recognizes the value of working closely with Community-minded entrepreneurs. “It’s been such a privilege to interact with such gifted, passionate people and watch so many great ideas take on flesh the past few months. Manifest Church (the church I lead that meets Sunday mornings here in Nose Creek School) was thrilled to donate prize money for the winners of the pitch competition. After all, Manifest’s tagline is “You belong” because family and community are at the heart of what we’re building. I’m looking forward to seeing how we can work together to help our Northern Hills Communities thrive in the months and years ahead.”

Northern Hills Connect is a group of neighbours on a mission to create sustainable social enterprises that cultivate a culture of belonging and connection in the Northern Hills community. Watch for more profiles of community entrepreneurs, and be sure to check out our upcoming events at

As published in the Northern Hills Association Newsletter.

Northern Hills ‘Reconnect’ Event

Northern Hills Connect meeting in session

After a busy summer and fall of workshops and pitch competitions, Northern Hills Connect took a moment on November 1 to reconnect. 32 people (including 8 kids!) came out to share their dreams for local, social business in Northern Hills.

At this meeting, everyone had a chance to contribute to Nannies to Go, one of the business ideas from the pitch night. Sanya Chaudhry, a resident of Northern Hills and all around amazing human, is supporting Jessie and Fatima to advance their business idea by using it as her group’s project for their entrepreneurial class at the University of Calgary.

On November 1, Sanya and her group presented their business plan thus far. Participants then had a chance to share what they loved about the idea, how they thought it could improve and what gifts they could offer to support it moving forward.

The group also identified that we needed a new target. This spring and summer we accomplished a lot. 150 community members came out to dozens of workshops, meetings and events. These were planned by a small and mighty group of about 40 residents who dedicated over 1,500 hours since early 2017.

We know we want to support our first pitching entrepreneurs. We’ve also asked ourselves, what other ways could the community grow social enterprise and social belonging in Northern Hills? Coming up we will be looking to answer just that by setting some short and long-term goals for the group and establishing working groups who will focus on bringing these to life.


Northern Hills Connect @ EconoUs

Last month you learned about nine of your neighbours who pitched eight business ideas that at their heart are about increasing social connection and belonging in Northern Hills. On September 15, three of those neighbours shared this same vision with hundreds of delegates at EconoUs – the national community economic development conference.

To set the stage, Sanya Chaudhry, a young leader in Northern Hills, shared the vision of Northern Hills Connect. She painted a picture of neighbours and community organizations coming together to share their gifts to support individuals and their community to thrive. She told her story of learning about social enterprise and how it is now shaping the course she is taking within her business degree at the University of Calgary.

Next, Jon Berlie introduced his vision of how growing food here in the community can bring us together. Using public and private green spaces to create an ecosystem for affordable produce and economic prosperity.

Finally, Jessie Leighton and Fatima Cuade showed how their Nannies to Go idea can support families looking for flexible childcare options and immigrants striving for meaningful work. They also had an opportunity to connect with ATB Financial President and CEO, Dave Mowat, who invited them to setup a follow-up meeting.

You can check out the full video for Northern Hills Connect’s presentation at EconoUs on our Facebook.

So what’s next?

Northern Hills Connect will be supporting any of the entrepreneurs from its pitch night in September who want to bring their social enterprise forward. This includes short and long term coaching and business planning with Momentum, opportunities to get the word out at local community events and connecting these entrepreneurs with the financing and other entrepreneurial resources we met at EconoUs.

We will also be exploring what’s next with engaging the broader community. Reach out if you have feedback to share on the workshops and pitch competition from Spring/Summer 2017 or other ideas about where we should head next with supporting local, social business in your community.

This article appeared as “Northern Hills Connect – It takes a village… to raise a business rooted in community (Part 2) ” in the Nothern Hills Association November 2017 newsletter

First Northern Hills Connect Pitch Night

NHC First Pitch Night

Have you ever felt like our lives are compartmentalized? That we go to work to make money. That we spend time with friends and family to feel connected. And to feel a part of something bigger than us, we binge watch a season of Game of Thrones or escape to the mountains? Who has ever felt like this before? Now imagine a magical world where all of those things intersect.

This was how emcee Philip Lozano of Thrive and Momentum kicked off Northern Hills Connect’s first pitch night on September 7.

Northern Hills Connect (NHC) is a group of neighbours and community organizations on a mission to create sustainable social enterprises that cultivate a culture of belonging and connection in the Northern Hills Community.

This pitch night was the culmination of seven months of meetings and a summer full of free social enterprise workshops. It brought the community together to hear eight residents pitch their idea. Those pitches included:

  1. Playground with Spa – Zuhair Khan
  2. Local Focused Marketplace – Bryan Chow
  3. Art Lessons @ Home – Nikki Pike
  4. Reclaim Garden Produce – Jon Berlie
  5. Night Market North – Ian McAnerin
  6. Local Online Auctions – Stephanie Paull
  7. Community TimeBank – Kim Walker
  8. Nannies to Go – Jessie Leighton & Fatima Cuade

The community, judges and NHC’s members selected two pitches to move forward to the finals at EconoUs – the national community economic development conference. Those two pitches were Nannies to Go and Reclaiming Garden Produce. Check out our social media to see the final successful pitch from September 15.

NHC has secured some prize money and is working to secure more to help get as many of these ideas as possible off the ground. In addition to the prize money, NHC has other supports that can help a community business launch and thrive. This first event was about the ideas and inspiring a community to get behind an idea that could make everyone’s lives better.


This article appeared as “Northern Hills Connect – It takes a village… to raise a business rooted in community” in the Nothern Hills Association October 2017 newsletter