Canada Social Enterprise Check-up
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Canada and its social enterprise sector will be in the spotlight next year when the country hosts the 2013 Social Enterprise World Forum in Calgary, October 2-4. As Canada’s first and only publication dedicated to social enterprise and entrepreneurship, we thought we’d give you an overview of what’s happening with the movement right now, and where things are headed in the year to come.

In October, we asked social enterprise leaders and innovators across the country to tell us how the social enterprise field is evolving in their region, what they are working on, and what’s on the horizon. Here are some of the highlights:

British Columbia introduces new hybrid corporation

from David Lepage, Team Manager at Enterprising Non-Profits (enp)

The most amazing effort impacting social enterprise in British Columbia is the implementation of the eleven recommendations developed by the Social Innovation Council, now transformed into the Social Impact Partners as a cross-sector stakeholder group focused on implementation in collaboration with the provincial government. Key issues evolving: new hybrid corporation 3C – Community Contribution Corporation; tax credits for social impact investors; social impact purchasing policy; access to existing SME programs for social enterprises.

On the horizon, the Social Enterprise World Forum 2013 will be in Calgary from Oct. 2 to 4th! SEWF2013 is being hosted by the Trico Charitable Foundation in partnership with the Social Enterprise Council of Canada and the Centre for Impact Investing. Watch for updates and information.

The priorities ahead continue to be building a comprehensive and supportive ecosystem for social enterprise in Canada. And while the sector grows and gains momentum we have to remember that social enterprise is a means to create healthy communities; social enterprise is not the goal, social enterprise is the means. We have to keep a focus on the fact that social enterprise is a verb, supporting the success and sustainability of the non-profit sector.

from Al Etmanski, partner in Social Innovation Generation (SIG); co-chair BC Partners for Social Impact and blogger;

Social entrepreneurship continues to grow in BC. There are many reasons for this, including the talent, determination and passion of youth and First Nations. That’s the good news. The bad news: most are working for low wages with little financial support to grow their enterprises.

BC, like every province in Canada, needs a concerted effort to invest in our most creative problem solvers and to create funds that will enable them to establish their enterprises on solid footings and increase their impact.

Currently, I am working with colleagues from business, government and community to implement the eleven recommendations of the BC Social Innovation Council. This includes tax credits for social enterprises; BC Ideas, a web-based community of innovators and entrepreneurs; and the launch of Community Contribution Companies.

We need to increase the rate of breakthrough social innovations and enterprises. There are too many good solutions to our social and environmental problems that are isolated and orphaned. They need to be spread and scaled. This is harder than we think. It involves being able to work with allies as well as strangers and opponents; to change our thinking from incremental to whole systems change; to let go of treasured beliefs and approaches; to experiment and not be afraid of failure.

Social innovation “labs” have emerged around the world as one of the more effective containers for helping diverse and competing interests work together for widespread impact. I look for increased investment in social innovation labs in the year ahead.

Alberta gears up for global event

from Brittni Kerluke, Foundation Coordinator & Dan Overall, Director of Collaboration and Innovation for Trico Charitable Foundation

In the past year, we have seen an increase in organizations interested in social enterprise in our region. Most of these organizations are in the “early learning” and “planning” stages.

We have also seen increasing requests for additional supports that include advisory services, connecting individuals with consultants and resources, and the need for deep-dives into important social enterprise issues. Some of the areas identified include: how to approach a feasibility study and how to write a sound business plan; legal and accounting implications; developing brand recognition; and how to pitch ideas to potential investors.

These individuals are also interested in networking opportunities and connecting with organizations that have a proven track record in social enterprise. Currently, we are busy enhancing communication vehicles to celebrate success stories and encourage dialogue.

One important focus [for us] has been the Social Enterprise World Forum 2013, which will take place in Calgary, October 2-4, 2013. SEWF is a one-of-a-kind global event dedicated to social enterprise, bringing together 1,000 attendees from over 30 countries and speakers from more than 20 countries. Each year, SEWF gives a different host country a special chance to celebrate and nurture its local social entrepreneurship and 2013 is Canada’s year to shine!

This is a unique and powerful opportunity for social entrepreneurs from all sectors, including non-profit NGOs and for-profit businesses; support agencies; funders and investors; elected officials and public servants; consultants; indigenous groups; and students to learn, share, and lead. For more information email

Manitoba builds business skills

from Brendan Reimer, Prairies & Northern Territories Coordinator, The Canadian CED Network

While many pieces of the social enterprise development puzzle have been emerging over the years in Manitoba, ENP Manitoba will not only bring a new focus to building skills with non-profits, but will also bring together a pool of funds dedicated to supporting groups who pursue their ideas.

Hopefully, ENP Manitoba will also provide a place to connect the many different activities going on in social enterprise in Manitoba to make us all more connected and effective. As well, it is fantastic to see the United Way, the Province of Manitoba, and Assiniboine Credit Union show such leadership in making this happen. The Premier was at our recent conference to make the announcement.

from Marty Donkervoort, instructor at the University of Winnipeg

I developed a course on social enterprise that I have taught at both the University of Winnipeg Business Faculty and its Inner City and Urban Studies department. The course, originally experimental, has now been designated as a permanent course in the business school curriculum. I will be teaching it again in the coming winter term.

I see two important priority issues for the development of social enterprises. One is the lack of interested and qualified social entrepreneurs willing and able to start up and manage social enterprises. The other is related to government procurement of products and services from the social enterprise sector. The development and acceptance of community purchasing clauses in government procurement will greatly assist the sector.

Winnipeg has a significant number of successful social enterprises. Many have been around for a long time. ImagineAbility (formerly Versatech Industries) celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012. Neechi Foods, Inner City Renovation, and BUILD have been around for ten or more years. Although there are some recent new social enterprises, I feel that we could do much better if we address the two priority issues noted above.

Quebec Premier a supporter of social economy

from Nancy Neamtan, President & CEO, Chantier de l’économie sociale

The social economy movement has been a growing phenomenon in Quebec over the past 15 years and every year we make some steps forward. Over the last year, the creation of regional social economy poles in every region of Quebec including the North and with the Cree Nation has been completed. These regional poles work hand in hand with the Chantier de l’économie sociale to promote and support the development of social economy enterprises.

The most important advance this year is linked to the election of a new government. Our new Premier is a strong supporter of the social economy and has included support for this form of entrepreneurship in her overall vision and economic development strategies. She has announced the intention to present enabling legislation on the social economy in the current parliamentary session. This enabling legislation will strengthen the recognition of the social economy and legislate certain government commitments to work in partnership with networks representing stakeholders, to develop an action plan on a regular basis, to assure that all government ministries and agencies recognize and support its development in their field of intervention, and that progress reports be made to the National Assembly.

Currently, we are working on the following priorities: the enabling legislation (loi cadre); new investment products for social economy enterprises in certain sectors; promotion among youth; outreach to immigrants; and increasing buying power through collective purchasing and access to markets through our new transactional platform, Commerce Solidaire.

On the international scene, we have created a new reference centre on the social and solidarity economy and particularly issues related to public policy. This new tool, RELIESS, is available in three languages (English, Spanish, French).

The most important priorities for the field in the year ahead include access to new markets, capacity building, public procurement, and moving forward in new economic sectors, particularly the manufacturing sector and natural resources.

Nova Scotia looks at legislation

from Andy Horsnell, co-founder of Common Good Solutions

At ENP-Nova Scotia our spring round of grantees are all underway with their projects. From our fall grant round we are anticipating a large number of applications from across the province.

On the government front, the province’s $2-million Social Enterprise Loan Guarantee Program is underway, and the new Community Interest Companies Act was presented to the NS Provincial Legislature on November 28th. Work on redrafting the NS Societies Act (which will have a provision to allow for social enterprise) is ongoing.


Thanks to everyone who participated in our cross-country social enterprise check-up. This is just a glimpse of the social enterprise landscape and the important work happening across Canada.


If you know a social enterprise leader or policymaker who would like to take part in our next check-up, or if you would like to send your own update about developments in your region, please contact us (include “social enterprise check-up” in your subject line.

Editor’s Note: Watch for social enterprise updates from Ontario in our January newsletter. Subscribe now so you don’t miss it.

Nicole Zummach
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Nicole Zummach is the co-founder of SEE Change Magazine. She has worked in the publishing industry for more than two decades, and has spent most of her career researching and writing about civil society and the nonprofit sector. Contact her at

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