The Social EnterPrize is a unique Canadian-born competition that seeks out entrepreneurs with socially impactful initiatives. Created to recognize and celebrate leadership and excellence in social entrepreneurship across Canada, since its inception in 2011 the awards have provided a platform for celebrating and telling the stories of those working hard to effect change. The 2015 edition will be bigger than ever. Sponsored by the Trico Foundation, along with new partners BDC and MARS, the prize package this year exceeds $200,000. Facilitated by the financial expertise of MARS, the organizers are excitedly anticipating the award’s lasting impact for recipients.
Four award recipients will be chosen based on criteria to be announced at the Social Finance Forum in Toronto on November 12. The deliberate multi-level nature of the award package ensures the deepest impact for socially responsible businesses. It encourages applications from both for-profit and non-profit enterprises, which re-imagines the power of the markets to meet a financial goal in a socially influential way.
Strategic director at the Trico Foundation, Dan Overall has been a part of the awards since their inception and passionately promotes their evolution. Of the award applicants, he proudly states, “Everything in their work has confirmed two things: ‘there is a desperate need to tell the stories of amazing social enterprises, not just the who, but the how.” These inspirational socially and ethically responsible organizations needs to be recognized, adds Overall. “That’s what this looks at, it shows the nuts and bolts of the journey.”
It must be understood that the awards are not meant to be an end goal in and of themselves. Social change, like entrepreneurship is a continual process and the awards speak to that fact in a profound way. Reflecting on a Winston Churchill quote, “Now this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning,” Overall discusses the long-term impact of the awards themselves: catalyzing continued action in society. In fact, the growing awareness for social entrepreneurship is reflected in the rising popularity of the Social EnterPrize.
Along with a well-deserved prize money, the winners are also provided a package to extend the influence of their project. A bursary for professional consultation is provided to encourage the continued and efficient operation of each social enterprise. And, thanks to new partnerships this year, access to financial expertise, insights and consulting is made possible, promoting the professional development of each winner. Travel and accommodations for the Social Finance Forum in Toronto, as well as a recipients’ dinner with four of Canada’s leading financial experts are also part of the package.
Forward-thinking is reflected in the final leg of the prize, with Canadian post-secondary institutions agreeing to create profile videos of successful candidates. Participation from educational facilities creates excitement and interest in the future of social enterprise, while introducing another tangible element of the awards package. The multi-faceted and innovative nature of The Social EnterPrize is focused on taking awards to the next level. With its diverse impact and focus on emerging social enterprises, the awards are an exciting example of Canadian efforts at implementing lasting social change.
Applicants must send in their completed applications by May 29, 2015 at 4 pm MST
Samantha Scalise is currently living in Montreal studying international development studies at McGill University. Focusing on culture and society she hopes to use her degree to promote positive social change locally and globally