Homelessness. Unemployment. Isolation. How can B.C. bring new solutions to address these common, complex social challenges? The Government of British Columbia has proclaimed April 2014 as Social Enterprise Month to celebrate the expanding social enterprise sector and recognize its contribution to the strength and resiliency of B.C. communities.
Social Development and Social Innovation Minister Don McRae will present the proclamation tonight at the Social Enterprise Catalyst Gala event in Victoria, kicking off a series of events in British Columbia over the month of April.
Social enterprises differ from most traditional businesses in that profits are not just used to ensure financial viability, but are re-invested to achieve, sustain and further a social or environmental purpose.
Based on a 2011 survey, B.C. social enterprises provided services to nearly 700,000 people and generated at least $60 million in revenues. B.C. social enterprises provide valuable services, offer employment opportunities, involve volunteers, and train thousands of people each year.
British Columbia was the first jurisdiction in Canada to create the Community Contribution Company - a corporate entity recognized by people who want to use their purchasing dollars to support a positive social impact, and by investors who are interested in both a social and financial return. Since introducing the structure in 2013, a growing number of social innovators are using the corporate structure to bridge a gap between for-profit business and non-profit enterprise.
As an active member of the BC Partners for Social Impact, government works with leaders in the social innovation field to promote and support social innovation and social enterprise across the province. Through this kind of collaboration, government is able to accomplish far more than it would if acting alone.
Don McRae, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation -
“I want to thank all the social entrepreneurs for their innovation and hard work growing social enterprise in British Columbia. I encourage citizens to learn more about social innovation and social enterprises in their communities, whether it’s a visit to a café, farmers’ market, thrift store or the YMCA, and to celebrate the contributions of the social enterprise sector.”
Kim Buksa, program manager, Enterprising Non Profits (enp) British Columbia, and BC Partners for Social Impact member -
“We are delighted that the government is proclaiming April as Social Enterprise Month, building on last year’s Social Enterprise Day. In addition to the events in Victoria and Vancouver, we will be celebrating the success of social enterprise at events across the province with the many groups we have funded over the past 15 years who are working hard to ensure they have healthy, inclusive communities.”
Ken Gauthier, community catalyst, Urban Matters; Principal, Urban Systems, and BC Partners for Social Impact co-chair -
“It's so exciting to see the growth of social innovation and enterprises taking root across B.C. From Victoria to Fort St. John to Haida Gwaii, momentum is building in all corners of the province. Proclaiming Social Enterprise Month in April will help promote awareness of social innovation and enterprises throughout B.C. and leave a lasting legacy that companies like Urban Matters can continue to build upon. It's a good month!”
Rupert Downing, executive director, Community Social Planning Council, and BC Partners for Social Impact member -
“We’re kicking off Social Enterprise Month tonight with a great Social Enterprise Catalyst event to network and raise the profile of Vancouver Island social enterprises. The gala includes some exciting speakers and Dragon’s Den-style social enterprise pitches to win technical and financial resources. Events like these help raise the profile of the innovation sector in our communities.”
- Examples of social enterprises include the Salvation Army having a thrift store to support their social programs, or the YMCA running fitness centres to generate revenue to shelter people experiencing homelessness. Co-ops and credit unions are also forms of social enterprise.
- More recently, new forms of social enterprise have begun to emerge. For example, there are businesses that hire people with disabilities or other barriers to employment. These businesses provide regular services to the public, but they have a social purpose as well - to provide on-the-job training and work experience to their employees.
- For example, the Potluck Café Society in the Downtown Eastside operates Potluck Café & Catering to create jobs for neighbourhood residents with barriers to traditional employment and earn revenue to support its community programs.
- In 2011, government created the B.C. Social Innovation Council to find new and innovative ways to help communities tackle some of their most pressing social challenges, resulting in the development of the Action Plan Recommendations to Maximize Social Innovation in B.C.
- The BC Partners for Social Impact, the successor to the Social Innovation Council, is now working to support the implementation of these recommendations and other innovation opportunities, with the support of government.
- The group includes government, the business community, and the not-for-profit sector.
- The partners work to implement the recommendations in the Action Plan to Maximize Social Innovation in B.C., as well as to identify new opportunities to promote and support social innovation throughout the province.
- There are now more than 70 BC Partners for Social Impact members and membership continues to grow as more people and organizations express an interest.
View the proclamation at: www.qp.gov.bc.ca/statreg/oic/2014%20Proclamations/procs/SocialEnterprise2014.htm
Information on April Social Enterprise Month events happening around B.C.: http://hubcapbc.ca/
Learn more about the BC Partners for Social Impact and the Action Plan to Maximize Social Innovation in B.C.: www.sdsi.gov.bc.ca/social-innovation/index.htmA backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation
BACKGROUNDER Social Innovation 101
- Social innovation is about new ideas and ways to address complex social problems - such as homelessness or unemployment - by leveraging government, business and community resources to create better social outcomes.
- Social innovation is not a new concept, but in recent years it has become more focussed and structured - a deliberate process for finding, developing and implementing ideas.
- No one organization, ministry or government can solve society’s most difficult challenges on its own, which is why social innovation and entrepreneurship is so important.
- The Government of British Columbia is committed to supporting and encouraging social innovation through collaborative partnerships with other sectors.
Glossary of common social innovation terms:
- The social economy is often referred to as “the third sector,” (the first and second being the private and public sectors). It includes a wide range of community activities, including cooperatives and other social enterprises, non-profit organizations, charities, and volunteerism.
- Community benefit refers to the total benefit (social, environmental, and economic) to a community, including the families and individuals within it, of a particular activity. In a social innovation context, the term often focuses specifically on social and environmental benefits, as these two categories are less likely to be considered or measured.
- Social enterprises are businesses driven by a social or environmental purpose. As with any business, a social enterprise delivers goods and services to customers in the marketplace. Social enterprises differ from most traditional businesses in that their profits are not just used to ensure financial viability, but are re-invested in the business and/or the community to achieve, sustain and further the organization’s social or environmental purpose.
- Social entrepreneurs are people who use entrepreneurial principles to create innovative programs, products, or processes and to build an organization that can bring the innovation to market. Just as a business entrepreneur might create an entirely new industry, a social entrepreneur finds new solutions to social problems and then implements them on a large scale.
- Sustaining innovation is the most common type of innovation. A sustaining innovation offers more functionality or better quality to the most demanding consumers of a product or service. It can be either an incremental improvement (e.g., a new smartphone model) or a significant breakthrough (e.g., the first smartphone).
- Impact investing is investing in companies, organizations, and funds with the intent of generating a measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Impact investments can be made in both emerging and developed markets, target a range of returns from below market to market rate (depending upon the circumstances). For social enterprises (see below), impact investment can provide the capital that supports the scaling-up of small-scale social innovations (see below) that have demonstrated success in addressing a social problem.
- Social finance is an approach to managing money that delivers a social dividend and an economic return. Examples include community investing, microlending, social impact bonds (see below), and sustainable business and social enterprise (see above) lending. Social finance sits halfway between a charitable donation and a loan, enabling business owners with a social mission to create impact at a scale greater than can be achieved through traditional philanthropic support or government contributions.
- A social impact bond (also known as preventative social financing) is a type of outcome-based contract. Through a social impact bond, private investment is used to pay for interventions, which are delivered through service providers with a proven track record. The investors receive a financial return from government if and only if the intervention is successful. The UK is piloting the world’s first social impact bond: http://socialfinance.org.uk/work/sibs.
- A Community Contribution Company (C3) is a new (effective July 29, 2013), hybrid type of company that combines socially beneficial purposes with a restricted ability to distribute profits to shareholders. C3s are incorporated under legislation that caps dividends on company shares, ensuring profits are either retained by the company or directed to community benefit. (see also: Social Enterprise)
- Social purchasing or social procurement is a process through which organizations consider not only value for money, but also environmental, social, and ethical impacts when purchasing goods and services.
- Lab processes bring together a variety of stakeholders to develop a common understanding of a problem, from which they can design new, innovative solutions. Based on, in part, whole-system and design thinking, labs leverage a diversity of knowledge, experience and perspectives to find solutions to complex, intractable social problems. Examples include Change Labs, Design Labs, Solutions Labs, and Social Innovation Labs.
- Volunteerism, one of the oldest forms of social innovation, is the policy or practice of volunteering one's time or talents for charitable, educational, or other worthwhile activities, especially in one's community.
Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation