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Recently, a good friend of mine, Mark Swartz, asked me to take part in his radio show Career Buzz as he wanted to do a segment on Social Entrepreneurship.
Mark has been a Career advisor for many years and his show provides information about possible career directions and choices.
I was very touched that he thought that I could contribute to the subject, but albeit a bit nervous as I usually don't call myself a social entrepreneur. But Mark managed to get some useful information out of me and I hope you will enjoy listening to the interview.
Many thanks to Mark Swartz for making this interview a success.
~ Martina Ernst
Martina Ernst interview on Career Buzz Canada with Mark Swartz
The following is the transcript of a recent Career Buzz interview with Martina Ernst, President & CEO, Wo-Built Inc., one of few female-led design and build companies in Toronto.
What Wo-Built is about?
How the company has a social entrepreneurship bend?
What kind of successes had Wo-Built had?
Mark: Welcome to Career Buzz - Canada’s unique radio conversation that empowers lives, riches careers and energizes organizations.
Hi, I am Mark Swartz, founder of Career Activist dot com, Canada’s free career website. Social entrepreneurship - what is it? Well, it’s basically entrepreneurship with a social mission: making money, while making a difference. Maybe you will start your own business but you want to inject the measure of social goodness still make a profit.
I have two fascinating young ladies with me this afternoon and they are going to talk about their experiences with social entrepreneurship. Coming up with the second half of this show I have Elisa Birnbaum. She has started a nationwide online magazine called seechangemagazine dot ca, and she features social entrepreneurship and small businesses, medium sized businesses from coast to coast who have been able to put together a viable business plan and an ongoing business while also injecting social mission.
But right now with us in the studio I have a wonderful individual and friend, her name Martina Ernst. Now, Martina started off a company called Wo-Built, and what is the designation at the end to the web-site?
Martina: It is dot com.
Mark: Martina has a background in design/build construction building and also she looks at the green side of the equation. So, welcome this morning, Martina.
Martina: Thanks Mark.
Mark: It’s great to have you here.
Martina: Thanks for inviting me.
Mark: Now, you have got some interesting things going on at your company and it’s called Wo-Built. But maybe you can tell me a little bit about what the company is about and how it has social entrepreneurship bend?
Martina: We are design and build contractor for residential market and also for small commercial projects. We specialize for residential market for additions, extensions, new build and on the commercial side we like to be involved with the alternative medical community and build offices for them.
Mark: OK, you say you build offices. What is that in tell?
Martina: Usually, it is interior renovations because these offices are in larger commercial buildings and we do fit-outs for them.
Mark: OK, now, Wo-Built is short for … what exactly?
Martina: It is short for ‘women build’ because the company is 100 percent women-owned. So, roughly about 6 years ago I met my business partner Elida Huignard and we actually met at a CAWIC, which is the Canadian Association of Women in Construction, it was their inauguration party. So, we got chatting and we were both pretty much taken by the number of women in construction we actually saw there. It’s still a rarity to see women in construction.
Mark: Certainly, in Canada, it is.
Martina: So, we identified that there is an opportunity there to actually help women in construction, and one of the things we said when we got chatting was why don’t we open up a construction company that helps mentor women. It was our social mission. We started Wo-Built with a social mission at its heart which was mentoring women in construction. We see ourselves as a little bit a stepping stone for them. We hire young women out of colleges. They want to go into the construction industry as trade’s women and we offer them a stepping stone on our sites to start off their careers there. So they have their first site experience and afterwards we hope they actually find a contractor which can give them an apprenticeship because we are not set up for that.
Mark: Great. Wo-Built is a social entrepreneurial business in design/build and you help young women get their feet into the whole area of construction building. What kind of successes had you had over because you have been in business for how long, Martina?
Martina: Just, over five years.
Mark: OK, what kinds of successes have come up over that time?
Martina: Well, we actually had a couple of women which we helped in our sites and since then they moved onto what we believed to a better thing – in construction. They actually started big careers and we were very happy to be able to be helpful to them to start off their careers. We felt that women actually had more difficulties to start careers as tradeswomen in construction because there might be a perceived disadvantage maybe in terms of strengths or skills, or so. We are helping them by giving them their first experience on site.
Please click here for part two: Career Buzz interview with Martina Ernst, President & CEO, Wo-Built Inc.