Building Upon Success: St. John’s Tool Library Expanding Social Enterprise

The St. John’s Tool Library will soon begin hammering away at expansion plans thanks to their new partnership with Metro Business Opportunities (MBO) and the financing provided by their Support loan program. The Tool Library will use the Social Enterprise development funds to expand their inventory of equipment and grow their membership base.

The St. John’s Tool Library opened its doors in spring 2017, providing residents in downtown St. John’s and throughout the metro area with affordable access to a wide-range of household tools and equipment. A not-for-profit organization, the St. John’s Tool Library operates as a Social Enterprise, reinvesting membership and workshop fees back into their mission. Available at ‘Tinkerer’, ‘Maker’, and ‘DIY Master’ levels, an annual membership gives community members access to the Tool Library’s inventory, allowing them to sign-out items for short-term rental. With over 1400 items ranging from handheld tools, garden equipment, crafting materials and everything in between, the Tool Library has made it possible for more members of the community to create, make, build, and grow.  

By encouraging the sharing of tools over private ownership, the St. John’s Tool Library helps reduce household waste and consumerism. They have become an inclusive knowledge-sharing space for their members, and the facility itself acts as a venue for special workshops that increase tool-literacy and confidence within the community.  

After almost two years of continuous success, the St. John’s Tool Library has decided to expand. To help them move forward, the Tool Library worked with MBO and availed of the Consultant Advisory Services (CAS) program to have a comprehensive business plan written. With their plans in place, they were able to secure capital funding under MBO’s Support loan program.

Energized by community support, lead by a dedicated board of directors, and powered by a team of over 30 volunteers, the Tool Library will use the capital provided by Support to expand their inventory and selection of tools and equipment, increase their workshop offerings, promote their membership benefits and services, grow their user base, and develop a corporate sponsorship package.

It has been essential to have the support of MBO to create a business plan which gives us the confidence and clear direction to grow the Tool Library. We are also very excited to have the support of MBO through this loan, to allow us to have the resources required for this next stage of our efforts.
— Ian Froude, Executive Director, St. John’s Tool Library
The Tool Library is committed to serving its members by building a deeper inventory of tools, while offering a breadth of workshops. We are proud to help our members gain skills and do a wide range of projects, while enabling the sharing of otherwise unused tools, donated from the public. The Tool Library’s impact and that of our membership, has a positive and growing impact on our community.
— Ian Froude, Executive Director, St. John’s Tool Library

St. John’s Tool Library
A non-profit tool lending service for people who want to create, make, build, and grow. The St. John’s Tool Library strives to provide an affordable and accessible alternative to individual/household tool ownership; reduce household waste and environmental impacts of consumerism by reusing and repairing tools; be an inclusive, knowledge-sharing space that promotes creativity and learning; and increase tool-literacy and confidence to use tools.

Metro Business Opportunities
Metro Business Opportunities (MBO) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development of Business and Social Enterprise in St. John's and Mount Pearl. Through business advisory, lending, and training offerings, MBO's knowledgeable team helps potential and existing entrepreneurs of all ages with idea generation, business start-up, and successful growth.

The Support Program:
Launched in 2017, Support fosters Social Enterprise development by registered not-for-profit organizations in St. John’s and Mount Pearl. Offered by Metro Business Opportunities (MBO), through funding from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), Support provides up to $50,000 in financing to start or expand a Social Enterprise. The program includes essential business advice and learning opportunities, allowing organizations to develop the necessary skills for successful management of a Social Enterprise.   

About Social Enterprise:
There are various means of funding not-for-profit organizations: government grants, fundraising, membership fees, etcetera. By offering goods and services for sale through a Social Enterprise, a not-for-profit generates revenue that it can reinvest into achieving its core mandate. This innovative funding model can provide financial independence for an organization, and bring a more entrepreneurial approach to operations – helping the organization remain relevant, maximize efficiency, and achieve their goals.