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A case for businesses to help mobilize ABCD

What is asset-based community development (ABCD)?
ABCD_Tamarack Learning Wall
The Tamarack Learning Wall at ABCD for Healthy Neighbourhoods

Imagine a world of possibilities, where people were valued for their gifts, strengths, and skills – instead of weaknesses and problems.  This is the core concept behind Asset Based Community Development (ABCD). 

The core pillars are based on the idea that citizens are instrumental in knowing what assets exist within their neighbourhoods and communities, and capable of mapping these assets to meet self-identified local needs.

So what does this have to do with businesses you ask?  In April, I was thrilled to join a group of international change makers at an ABCD for Healthy Neighbourhoods’ workshop hosted by Tamarack Institute – the hat I was wearing was one of a social entrepreneur and founder of an incorporated local social enterprise.  

One question I was seeking answers for was, ‘Why are businesses kept on the side-lines when it comes to working with citizens to create positive social change?’  

Yes, maybe because they are profit driven – but with the emerging opportunities for businesses to align themselves with corporate social responsibility strategies, or as social enterprises and B Corps, perhaps it’s simply because we have yet to figure out how to build meaningful conversations between public, non-profit and private sectors.  

Is it possible?  Yes – as stated by Chantile Shannon, City of Edmonton staff, “ABCD has become the lens of how we do our work every day.”  Check-out Abundant Community Edmonton resources section to find out more.

I believe that there are creative and innovative ways for us to enable connection building that can deepen the potential to support citizen-led and informed social, environmental and economic change. 

Keep in mind that this is a paradigm shift which is good for people, good for businesses, and part of building age-friendly communities. “Most of what I’ve learned about cooperative culture has been in Canada,” said John McKnight, Founder and Co-Director of Asset-Based Community Development Institute.

Is your business geared towards working with people to co-design solutions for social problems instead of aiming to solve issues for them?  If so, or if you are a citizen interested in this approach, let’s connect to share stories, start an ABCD movement for Guelph, led by citizens / social entrepreneurs and valued by local businesses, non-profits and public institutions!

I will leave you with this impactful statement by Cormac Russell, Managing Director of Nurture Development; “silos are where intelligent people go to do dumb things; community is where people go to do amazing things.”

By Manon Germain, Age Friendly Guelph Project Specialist, Founder of Pi Network Inc.

For more information about how you can support or get involved with Age Friendly Guelph, get in touch via [email protected] or visit 

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