The Business

Located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, EMBERS (Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society) was founded by Marcia Nozick in 2001 as a social enterprise with a vision to create economic and employment opportunities for people living on low incomes. The organization helps individuals develop productive futures, build self-confidence and make a valuable contribution to the community.

EMBERS’ mission is to help people rediscover hope and self-sufficiency through the power of work. In service to our mission, EMBERS is proud to offer two successful job-creating programs that contribute to building a stronger, more sustainable community:

1. EMBERS Staffing Solutions provides temporary and transitional jobs to people who face barriers to work. Whether they come from the recovery community, prison system or face other barriers, EMBERS provides opportunities that help people transform their lives.
2. EMBERS Ventures helps low-income entrepreneurs start and grow small businesses and social enterprises in Vancouver by providing training and one-on-one coaching support.

Perhaps most unique is EMBERS’ financial model. As a social enterprise (not for profit business), 95% of our gross revenue is self-generated through our staffing company and employment training contracts. This sustainable model supports the scalability of our organization and allows us to maintain a low administration rate of 8%, while directing 92% of our income towards community-based economic development programming.

Giving Back


Driven by a passion for building sustainable communities, Marcia is dedicated to helping people transform their lives through the power of work. Through her vision and leadership, Marcia has directed EMBERS’ growth from a small and innovative idea to a multi-million dollar social enterprise, helping hundreds of people a year become economically self-sufficient.

Marcia initially founded EMBERS to help low income entrepreneurs turn their talents and dreams into small businesses. In 2008, as a way to create an even greater community impact, Marcia founded EMBERS Staffing Solutions, a social enterprise that provides short and long term jobs to people facing barriers to employment, including people recovering from addictions, people leaving the prison system, Aboriginals, immigrants and people with disabilities.

Since it began, EMBERS has:
– Provided thousands of people with employment opportunities
– Provided reliable workers to many high profile private sector companies, primarily in the construction industry
– Helped hundreds of workers accelerate their careers by offering training courses and certification opportunities
– Supported the start-up and expansion of more than 750 small businesses in Vancouver

In past three years alone, EMBERS has grown its revenues fourfold from a $1M to a $4M operation, and growing.

In addition to her leadership, operational, financial and community relations and advocacy responsibilities, Marcia is also one of the first people in the office every day. Her tireless dedication to serve people in need comes to life in her grassroots approach to change. No job is too small for Marcia and she is always eager to catch up with workers and business clients that filter through the office each day. She also takes part in community planning, social enterprise policy and activism on behalf of the residents of the Downtown Eastside – Canada’s poorest postal code.

Marcia has long believed that in order to truly help people, all you need are the right opportunities at the right time. But perhaps what makes Marcia most effective is her devotion to people and their potential. For Marcia, everyone is worthy of a second, third, and sometimes fourth chance.

Visit Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society