|dc.description.abstract||For nearly a generation now, Montréal's Le Boulot vers ... has been helping young people make the break from poverty, alienation, and dependency, and discover instead a world of opportunity. Most often referred to as a training business in English, Boulot vers is a carefully-managed business that manufactures furniture for the Montreal day care market. In a highly structured manufacturing environment, interns experience the discipline and the satisfaction of becoming a craftsperson and the social supports that enable them to break through the obstacles in their lives keeping them at risk. The value of this article is its depiction of the day by day rhythm of such a training enterprise.
What is not represented by this article is that Boulot Vers is a very particular model, one that combines ongoing state investment (from Quebec in this case) to support the social supports, which together with revenues from market sales make up its annual budget. The ongoing support of the province of Quebec is based on what studies have shown to be a positive ‘return on taxpayer investment’, that is, the public treasury is making money within one year of the entry of an at-risk youth into the 8 month program.
There is another aspect to Boulot Vers and similar training businesses that provokes questions of interest to both practitioners and researchers: why has an imported model from Europe been so widely replicated in Quebec? Equally important, why has it not been adopted in other parts of Canada? For example, the Potluck Café (15) in Vancouver demonstrates the stresses and strains of trying to integrate at risk populations from a poor neighborhood into a social enterprise that is not housed within a friendly or competent public policy environment. Moreover, such efforts have had to contend at times with public policy that is downright unfriendly (59)
One other question deserves attention. Why are there not more examples in the social enterprise field of the rigorous methodology and set of principles that underlie the scaling up strategy of YouthBuild (18) It has developed detailed curricula and training manuals to facilitate its successful replication across the U.S. Is it desirable to begin talking seriously about social enterprise franchising?||en