A Canadian charity helps individuals struggling with mental health struggles – not with medication or therapy – but by helping applicants start their own businesses.
Rise is a national program based in Toronto Which offers start-up microloans, business coaching, and coaching for people struggling with addiction and mental disorders, an effective formula that boasts success stories like that of 34-year-old Darcy Alemani.
Like many Canadians, Alemany has struggled through the pandemic as his mental health deteriorates. “I felt like I had nowhere to go when I had no one to turn to. And at the time, I felt like it would never end,” he told CTV News.
He says he has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Part of his treatment was to find something to enjoy.
Although he was working full time, Alemani began using his spare time making lapel pins to help him identify his gender identity.
Al-Yamani said, “I find it difficult to express myself as a gay man, and to be bisexual at the same time.”
To his surprise, the others wanted them, too. So in early 2021 he started a business called ace pin. Customers can choose from 36 gender identity pins, which can also be combined and customized to express unique personalities.
“Being able to express yourself and being able to communicate about yourself is a huge factor especially in the lives of LGBT people,” Al Yamany said. “Maybe they didn’t have the tools before…”
He says the ascension helped him put together a plan of action, training, and training. The loan is there if he needs it, but sales have gone up so fast, he probably won’t need a loan. Alemany estimates that Pin-Ace sales could exceed $500,000 in 2023.
“Every single one of our customers self-identifies as having a mental health or addiction problem,” said Lori Smith, CEO of Rays. And not every one of our customers will get a traditional loan from a bank. She added “complete hiatus”.
Incoming requests are increasing. Last year, Smith says, Rise received 900 times more applications for funding or training than in previous years. Among the success stories are people who started pet grooming stores, bakeries, and leather shops, along with motivational speakers, musicians, and artists. Over its ten years in operation, Rise reports that it has lent nearly $3 million, helping launch more than 700 companies.
“The majority of our clients report increased self-confidence, and an increased ability to handle difficult and challenging situations in their lives,” said Smith.
For some, it’s the side hustle of an extra case. For others it is financial independence. According to Rise surveys, 78 percent report a decrease in the amount of regional income support they receive as a result of their businesses.
Smith said, who will help fund the next batch of entrepreneurs.
Michelle Tassa, a mother and teacher in Calgary, applied for a loan after a series of traumatic events upended her mental health.
“My life kind of exploded,” Tassa said. I couldn’t work,” she told CTV News.
Her husband, who had long suffered from a neurological disease, had recently died, and Tassa took a teaching job in China with her two children. When COVID-19 hit, she struggled on her return to Alberta.
“We just spent all our savings to get home. It was kind of an emergency at the time.” Years of stress and grief, sent her to the hospital where she was diagnosed with complex PTSD, along with depression.
Unable to return to a regular teaching job to support her family, Tassa applied for a startup loan from Rise, for $10,000. It helped her get going casting art A company that offers art lessons and homeschooling, it’s named after how Tassa said she dealt with the stress of her life “with art coming out of me and healing,” she says.
“I discovered an entrepreneurial spirit in me. And Reese definitely helped me with that,” Tassa said.
Rice helped her design a business plan. She says she talks to her teacher regularly. Tassa has a few other side jobs to make ends meet but knows her work is getting there.
“I’ve created a life where I actually contribute. So I’m already winning,” Tassa said.
She is grateful for the support.
“A mental health diagnosis doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, smart, and entrepreneurial,” Tassa added.
“Can I say work has healed me? Not at all. I still have hard days,” Alemani said. “But despite these challenges, work allows me to feel hopeful. I feel less gloomy now.”