social delta

Consulting and support for social enterprise in Canada

Tag: social enteprise

Millennial Social Entrepreneurs

Here is an interesting article that suggests that social enterprise is a perfect tool for the idealistic Millennial. Social Delta couldn’t agree more (although we also believe that it is a robust tool for anyone  from any generation seeking sustainable social change…)

However, as Social Delta’s president noted as a comment in the article, the wonderful and infectious idealism of Millennials must be tempered by knowledge of what has gone before.  There are very few truly new ideas. We have new tools like computers and the internet, we have access to massive amounts of information,  but humans have been innovating for our entire history.

It can be observed that perhaps each generation believes that they possess something that the previous generation lacked.  This is the folly of humankind.  Even if this were true, knowing what has gone before us in social housing, sustainable agriculture, support of seniors, empowering a disenfranchised group, or even recycling will help to convert idealism into practical, sustainable change in our communities.

One change that is worth noting: this new access to information actually makes it easier to learn about the history of a movement, and idea or a business. Moreover, we don’t only have access to the past, we also have access to other communities’ experience all over the world. We in Canada can learn a lot from citizens in Europe, Asia, Africa, South America or elsewhere. Miraculously, we can find out about these concurrent efforts easily; however, we must look before we leap.

It would be dangerous to think that even the very concept of social enterprise is new.  The term may be new, but social enterprise–commercial transactions designed to benefit the community–is one of the oldest forms of social change. It is possible to think that many businesses 100 years ago were social enterprises: they generated employment, provided needed goods and services, and operated for the benefit of the community.  (think of the general store…it wasn’t created for  profit, but it certainly created community value).

We must all remember that new terminology shouldn’t disguise old ideas and that new ideas are best informed by past action by innovators and idealists all over the globe.

 

Jonathan Wade: Social Enterprise Expert in Residence at HUB Ottawa

I am pleased to offer Impact HUB Ottawa members free consultations on social enterprise once a week during the fall of 2017.  I will be at HUB Ottawa, 123 Slater Street, 6th Floor on Tuesday mornings from 9:30 to 10:30. Check the events page each week in case there is a last minute change in timing.

Not a member of the HUB yet?

Consider the Experts in Residence program as one of the many benefits of being a member, and drop by the space to chat with the host to ask about their very reasonable co-working rates.

If you are at the HUB when I am there, and are interested in a chat about social enterprise, please feel free to come and find me if I’m not busy.

Jonathan

 

Key Ingredients of Flourishing Social Enterprises

Poverty & Purpose

It is no accident that some of the hotbeds of new and successful Canadian social enterprises are in specific, economically depressed regions: North end Winnipeg, Downtown Eastside Vancouver, Regent Park in Toronto,  and rural Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. It is said that necessity is the mother of invention, and indeed, the needs of the population in these regions are acute and entrenched: discrimination, drug use, alcoholism, obesity, crime, unemployment, marginalization… Where there is poverty, inequality, and significant loss of livelihood there is a need to try anything; poverty creates an irrefutable purpose to develop a mechanism to arrest human suffering. Social enterprise is one such mechanism, where a business model is employed specifically to address community and human needs.

Innovation & Investment

Desperation may be a driver for change, but someone has to create an idea for the business. In my experience, social enterprise business ideas are rarely conceived by committee.  More commonly, a single person is responsible for a creative social enterprise idea, and they need to then invest their time, energy and often finances to bring that idea to the market. That individual can work independently as a solo-preneur, or as an intrepreneur within government, the private sector, co-operatives or non profits. Growth and development of the idea will of course require support from many actors within these organizational structures, and even from a broader community, but innovation and investment typically starts with one person who has a dream to make life better for others.

Risk & Reslience

However, business is not easy; ask any entrepreneur. Social entrepreneurs face an increased challenge because they live in a world where success is measured in social wealth, not in financial returns. Creating a business where maximizing social benefit drives all business decisions can—and in most cases does—suppress financial returns. Risk is therefore large and the expectation of future financial wealth is optimistic at best, and frequently a myth.  In the private sector, individuals and organizations assume risk on the presumption that future financial rewards will compensate them for risking their time, energy, money and social capital. Social enterprise flourishes when the innovators have a resilient constitution, and a way to accept, manage and even embrace personal losses for the sake of a common good.

Patience & Prudence

The worst part is that starting a business creates risks that last for a long time. For many individuals and organizations launching a social enterprise, the initial energy can be whittled down by a thousand tiny cuts, often over years. In my experience, social enterprises that are spearheaded by an innovator in the non-profit sector may take up to three years to launch, and perhaps five  years to break even (if ever). Accepting, managing and embracing losses and risk over that length of time—all motivated by a sense of optimism and altruism—requires exemplary patience and a strong, informed, and flexible plan to succeed. A full-fledged business plan may seem excessive, but there has to be at least an understanding of the market, the risks, the operational requirements, proposed budget including both projected income and expenditures.

Join the Social Enterprise Council of Canada

As of April 2015, the Social Enterprise Council of Canada (SECC) has opened up its membership to social enterprises and any and all who support social enterprise across the country.  By working together, we all have a greater voice to promote change. Become a member now and raise your voice to support the sector.

The SECC is the only national organization that works to promote social enterprise policy and best practice. Based upon the following six pillars required to support the sector, the SECC has for almost a decade worked with governments, social enterprise supports, community partners, funders and financiers to help build a positive environment for social enterprise to start and flourish in Canada.  These pillars have been used by public policy makers in BC, Nova Scotia,  Ontario,  Manitoba and in federal government departments.

The Six Pillars:

  1. Enhance Business Skills
  2. Ensure Access To Capital
  3. Create Market Opportunities
  4. Recognize Impact
  5. Provide Supportive Legislation And Regulations
  6. Connect practitioners in a strong national network

Annual memberships are inexpensive, and with greater membership, the Council has greater voice in representing those who are using business tools and earned income to create  more just, sustainable, resilient and robust communities across the country.

Join today at www.secouncil.ca.  Become part of the conversation that will chart the future of social enterprise in Canada.

Members are eligible to stand for and vote for SECC Directors–who are unpaid for their work to build the sector– and all members are invited to participate in the discussion on how best to support  social enterprises in the country.

One of the key public activities of the SECC is to work with a local partner to present a national conference every 18 months to showcase success, share best practices, build capacity and develop policy recommendations. Past conferences have been held in Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, Calgary, and most recently in London (Ontario). The next national conference is planned for the Fall of 2016.

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