Social Enterprise (SE) is a for profit venture most often run by a non-profit society or charity. There is generally a limited or zero shareholder distribution of profits. Social Enterprises follow the triple bottom line philosophy: People • Planet • Profit. Successful SEs follow these three principles:
- Make a profit.
- Be environmentally proactive.
- Fulfill your social mandate.
In 2006 SEs accounted for one percent of all registered businesses in the UK. By 2021 that had risen to two percent. Although lagging behind the UK and the US Canada has seen steady growth in the sector in general and in social purchasing in particular.
In Canada the Salvation Army Thrift Shops are a good example of a thriving social enterprise that is profitable, environmentally responsible and provides many excellent community services. Skwachàys Lodge is another great example of a social enterprise. This Aboriginal arts and culture hotel combined with the Urban Aboriginal Fair Trade Gallery provides the ongoing support for 24 Aboriginal artist live/work studios. This innovative approach to supportive housing provides monetary relief to an over burdened social housing sector.
There are tremendous possibilities for charities and non-profits to partner with corporations as well as local businesses to build relationships that are both profitable and socially responsible.
Joseph MacLean provides consulting, technology and communication services to non-profits looking to incubate or grow their social enterprise and to corporations seeking valuable partnerships that can be formed using this economic model to further both their connection to the community and to build good will in the marketplace as a responsible and proactive corporate citizen.