Social enterprises exist in almost every sector across Canada

Seeking to solve a key social, environmental or cultural issue in society, social enterprises generate revenue through the sale of goods and services. The majority of the business' profits are then reinvested to maximize their social, cultural or environmental mission.

As the business grows, the social impact grows too.

Take a closer look at what defines a social enterprise

A social enterprise is

mission driven They exist to address a social, cultural or environmental mission
  • Social enterprises are organizations that use business strategies to achieve a social, cultural, or environmental mission. Alongside generating revenues through the sale of goods and services, social enterprises simultaneously intend to create a positive impact and measure results in doing so. As the business of a social enterprise grows, the social impact is expected to grow.

a business They sell a product or a service to generate revenue
  • The organization derives a substantial portion of its income through the sale of goods and/or services.

     

reinvests its profits The profit is used to further the social, cultural or environmental mission
  • The organization intends to create a social or environmental impact through its business activities. The impact is intentional and not merely a by-product of business operations.

  • The organization has a blended business model, with social impact as a defining element of its business model. The social and/or environmental impact of the social enterprise grows in lockstep with its business growth.

Social enterprises can take on almost any line of business

But not every business is a social enterprise

Social enterprise is MORE than

A socially responsible business
  • A socially responsible business seeks to ensure that it operates in an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable manner (a ‘do no harm’ approach).

    A social enterprise goes above and beyond the focus of operating in a sustainable manner. Instead it seeks to actively contribute to solving a key social, environmental or cultural societal issue by generating revenue for the sake of expanding the impact of its social, environment and/or cultural mission.

    While maximizing profit is an important aspect of a social enterprise, because the more profit it makes the more it can invest back into the mission, it is not its primary focus. 

    The primary focus of a social enterprise is expanding the impact of its social, environment and/or cultural mission.

A business that sells fair trade products
  • Selling Fair Trade products in and of itself is not sufficient to be a social enterprise. The business must go beyond the selling of Fair Trade products. For example, establishing direct relationships with producers who are suppliers of the product, or employing or supporting a vulnerable or marginalized population in the local community through the business activities of the enterprise.

A business that donates to charity
  • As a social enterprise, the business itself creates a social or environmental impact with a substantial portion of its profits going back into the business to grow the impact of the mission. A charitable donation is not a core function of a business. 

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