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Amplifying Community Wealth & Dignity

We want to strengthen local businesses while increasing dignity, choice & connection for those we serve through a sustainable & proven system that integrates multi-vendor loyalty rewards, local currency and more efficient payments.

IFSSA's wants to bring the Local Frequency, an established payment, loyalty, and marketing program to Edmonton. The Local Frequency provides businesses with a payment terminal and customers with an app (or card). Through this system customers learn about new local businesses they can support and are incentivized through loyalty points. Businesses gain new loyal customers and lower transaction fees than credit cards. The Local Frequency started in Winnipeg more than 5 years ago, and now serves over 130 businesses across two Canadian cities.

IFSSA's plan is to build on the Local Frequency's platform and extend it in the following ways…

  • 1.Focus on supporting minority owned businesses
    Minority owned businesses face greater struggles; such as acquiring new customers, tighter margins, and less resources for promotion. They also provide more employment to minorities, and play a crucial role in supporting community development. They are generally anchored in communities that are natural 'captive' markets, eg the halal segment which is bound by religious dietary obligations is worth over $1billion a year in Canada.

    The platform will help minority owned businesses with both direct to consumer marketing, as well as more efficient business to business transactions.

    IFSSA serves over 5000 individuals every month and runs Edmonton's second largest food bank — this scale makes it difficult to do purchasing via small independent businesses, this platform would enable us to potentially redirect $¼ million annually towards the local economy.
  • 2.Better serve the food insecure
    The platform will allow IFSSA to more efficiently give-back to community members facing food insecurity. Instead of just giving clients a hamper, which may consist of many food items they don't want, the platform would allow IFSSA to give clients credit they can use to purchase items of their choice, thereby leveraging the efficiency and frugality of ethnic grocers, providing more dignity+choice, and reducing isolation through natural social networks.

    Presently, IFSSA spends more than $250,000 every year on direct food purchases for clients. Most of this money comes from restricted funding sources that stipulate direct expenditures on clients. We'd like to use this platform to enable us to give to our clients in more dynamic and meaningful ways.
  • 3.Help the charitable sector engage community & access new capital
    Earned revenue that aligns with charitable objectives is incredibly rare, through this platform IFSSA hopes to generate new unrestricted revenue, sustainably drive growth of the platform, and engage a broader demographic of the community. The platform would allow us to…
  • a.Engage with a broader cross section of community
  • b.Enable new ways for people to support our work (ie through micro-payments, round-ups, etc)
  • c.Sustainably grow and scale without the need for additional philanthropic investment.
  • Presently, IFSSA spends more than $250,000 every year on direct food purchases for clients. This platform would allow us to redirect $¼ million towards the local economy & give clients dignity+choice.

    Supporting Success in a post-COVID world

    COVID has been especially hard on local businesses. Its impact has been even more acute in minority owned businesses because of the larger impact the virus has had in tight-knit communities, the challenges associated with physical distancing in smaller spaces and the disparities with access to supports.

    IFSSA's strategy would help reconnect consumers to local businesses & incentivize shifting spending from big box / online ordering back to community owned businesses like smaller grocery stores, print shops & local restaurants.

    Supporting Employment
    Local businesses employ more people in a community, they hire local accountants, local printers, local cashiers, etc. The 'local multiplier' effect leads to more jobs and more resilient economies. This is more important in the post-COVID economy than ever.

    Sustainability & Revenue Generation

    The Local Frequency, has a proven track record of sustainability in multiple communities in Canada.

  • The platform has successfully transitioned to multiple Canadian cities.
  • Platform is not based on a charitable model, it provides cost savings to businesses and customers through lower transaction costs and incentivizing loyalty purchases
  • Has the potential to scale to serve numerous market segments/ cultural communities/ interest groups in Edmonton, and across Alberta, ie Philipino owned businesses, Women Owned Businesses, etc.

  • What is 'The Local Frequency?'

    IFSSA's Preparations

    IFSSA & Protegra (the creators of The Local Frequency) have been planning, designing and colloborating since 2018. During that time we've…

  • 1.Commissioned a feasibility study (available upon request) via the University of Alberta's MBA Corporate Sustainability class that included…
  • a.Engaging local business owners
  • b.Competitive analysis of similar loyalty reward programs
  • c.Growth forecast and projections
  • 2.Conducted mini focus groups with potential collaborators in the business community and ethno-cultural sector.
  • 3.Developed targeted meaningful indicators & articulated clearly the impact we want to have through a six-month cohort with Dialogues in Action.
  • 4.Designed job descriptions & built a product road map.
  • 5.Began partnership talks with ATB Financial.
  • 6.Structured a formal MOU with Protegra, for adapting their existing product and providing ongoing support.
  • 7.Earmarked $50,000+ for client disbursement through the system in 2021with the potential to redirect $250,000/a.
  • Timeline

    Month 1–3

  • Protegra and IFSSA to determine the rules, incentives, branding, and program mechanics for the implementation in Edmonton. Protegra can leverage different aspects of our platform for whatever the goal of this implementation
  • Recruiting/hiring for community mobilizer
  • Branding and development of promotional materials 
  • Months 4-6

  • Food-based business sign-ups, installation
  • Create educational materials / how-to videos for clients 
  • Begin active promotion in broader community 
  • Months 7-9

  • Expand to non-food-based business. eg pharmacies, other retail
  • Interviews users (clients, non-clients) 
  • Develop community partnerships for expansion
  • Months 10-12

  • Identify practicality of language expansion (adding right-to-left language support will require significant rework)
  • Select which communities to expand to 
  • Evaluate impact
  • Months 13+

  • Expansion into new communities
  • Reinvestment in app
  • IFSSA has earmarked $50,000+ for client disbursement through the system in 2021.


    IFSSA is highly motivated to find new solutions to addressing food insecurity. IFSSA runs the second largest food depot in Edmonton, and now sees more clients in one month than it did in all of 2015. In 2019, IFSSA worked with the University of Calgary, Edmonton Social Planning Council, and NorQuest to conduct a study of our long-term clients. This study pointed to social isolation, and lack of awareness as key factors leading to habituation. IFSSA's plan is to use the app to positively engage its clients, increase their social participation, and broaden their connection to community and the city. 

    Means of positive impact…

  • Direct philanthropy by IFSSA eg. Redirecting community donations to food bank clients in the form of local dollars provides them choice and dignity to obtain desired food while simultaneously reducing long-term warehousing costs for IFSSA
  • Supported philanthropy, helping business provide discounts to income verified clients in a way that honours the client’s privacy eg. Allowing a pharmacist to wave dispensing fees for IFSSA clients
  • Decrease social isolation for newcomers by easing the process of getting to know community resources, like grocery stores, and local amenities like parks through incentives like discounts, badges, etc
  • Create a meaningful perks program for employees/volunteers that heightens their connection to community establishments they already love 
  • Metrics

    IFSSA will determine its success based on the following measurables…

  • 1.Dollars retained in the local economy
  • 2.Local dollars distributed to food insecure clients
  • 3.Utilization rate of local dollars by food insecure clients
  • 4.Increase in social participation by food insecure clients (qualitative and quantitative measures)
  • 5.Business sign-ups 
  • 6.Customer sign-ups/ app downloads 
  • 7.Community awareness of IFSSA as measured by “source of referral” in services and programs
  • Profits → Purpose

    IFSSA intends to direct profits from this platform to…

  • 1.Extending the platform
  • 2.High impact volunteer incentives (credit within the platform) that supports mutual-aid social service delivery
  • 3.Integrated investment in micro-businesses started by clients, such as caterers, artisans & trades people trying to build supplementary income
  • IFSSA is motivated to find new solutions to addressing food insecurity. IFSSA runs the second largest food depot in Edmonton & now sees more clients in one month than it did in all of 2015.

    Investment Readiness Success Factors

  • 1.Builds on the strengths of IFSSA – which runs the second largest food depot in Edmonton with 5000+ active monthly clients and its deep ties with the Muslim business community
  • 2.Edmonton has 200+ food-based businesses that cater to Muslim dietary needs
  • 3.Builds on natural captured markets – starting with the ‘halal’ market segment which is bound by religious obligation to purchase dietary subscribed foods.
  • a.In Canada alone, halal meat is currently a $1 billion market annually and that number is climbing. The market is dominated by smaller players, but larger big-box establishments are encroaching. 
  • 4.The platform is not based on a charitable model to sustain itself, it provides cost savings to businesses and customers through lower transaction costs and incentivizing loyalty purchases 
  • a.Will generate revenue for IFSSA, and provide cost-savings for business partners. 
  • b.IFSSA has earmarked $50,000 in 2021 to distribute to clients via the platform.
  • 5.Scalable and replicable — the platform has the potential to scale to serve numerous market segments/ communities in Edmonton and beyond.
  • 6.Built on strong partnerships – Protegra, who built and localized the app in three communities, and ATB, Alberta’s leading financial institution
  • Future Growth Opportunities

  • 1.Supporting small home based businesses
    IFSSA's plan is to use the platform to support clients running home-based businesses. Presently, IFSSA helps home-based caterers with multiple barriers supplement their income through catering. IFSSA helps caterers gain practical skills like sending invoices, testing menus, learning about taxation, and developing clients.
  • 2.Expand to other ethno-cultural community bases.
  • 3.Expand to better serve business to business transactions.
  • 4.Expand beyond ethno-cultural communities.
  • 5.Integrating discrete access to mental health supports, such as IFSSA's Helpline and online counselling.

  • Investment

    IFSSA is looking for $74,000 in initial investment. This will help with white-label brand development, outreach/ lead development, internal infrastructure, and platform development necessary to successfully launch and test the platform. Capital will be used for hiring staff and adapting the platform. We project positive earnings by year 2 and a return on investment within 2 years.

    View a detailed P&L statement.


  • 1.Why not simply distribute cash or gift cards to clients?
  • a.The platform allows us to keep money circulating within the local community, leading to more jobs & more connections.
  • b.It keeps money aligned with the intent with which it was given and our organizational values
  • c.Unlike gift cards money added to the platform can't be put towards gambling or other non-aligned uses.
  • d.Directing people towards local businesses supports healthy community building, networking, & reduces social isolation.
  • e.The platform allows IFSSA to reach new donors and build relationship with local businesses.
  • 2.How is this different from other attempts at local currency?
    The Local Frequency provides merchants with a sustainable alternative that's competitive with the fees charged by credit card companies.
  • 3.Why IFSSA?
    IFSSA serves a large client base (5,000 people a month), has a broad diverse donor base, and is trusted in Edmonton's large Muslim community (~90,000 people, ~8% of the population).
  • 4.Who's Protegra and why are you working with a private corporation?
    Protegra is a Canadian company, a social purpose corporation that develops software for the common good. Their values align well with IFSSA, a social purpose charity with an entrepreneurial mindset. Together, we've developed a common vission, and MOUs to govern our partnership.

    Protegra brings a proven product, support and technical capacity. IFSSA brings access to community, new markets, and an opportunity to expand purpose.
  • Partners

    About IFSSA…

    People come to IFSSA for support with security, safety and growth. IFSSA serves 4500 clients every month, runs Edmonton's second largest food bank, provides aid in financial crisis, supports victims of gender-based violence, settles refugees, and delivers a range of preventative programming for youth. IFSSA's services are open to all.

    IFSSA is an Imagine Canada accredited charity, the winner of the Government of Alberta's Inspiration Award for its work combatting domestic violence (2020) and the Canadian Mental Health Associations Professional Service Award (2020).

    Quick IFSSA Stats…

    Next Steps

    We're looking for partners! Let's talk! →

    Omar Yaqub MBA BSc
    Servant of Servants (ED), IFSSA
    780 695 7477