What is a Social Enterprise?

Social Enterprises have a mission to address social, environmental or cultural challenges through its operations and/or sale of products or services. It reinvests profits above operational expenses back into their mission, and uses a triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) to measure their success. 

Social Enterprise is not a business form or legal structure, but rather an approach to business that is value-based and principles-focused. Its value proposition is incorporated into its mandate and directs its operation. 

SEE has adopted a broad definition of social enterprise that includes:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Corporation
    • Not-for-profit corporation
    • Limited liability corporation
    • Cooperative

Who is a Social Entrepreneur?

A social entrepreneur is an agent of change – a changemaker – someone who is inclined to develop innovative solutions to urgent social, cultural or environmental problems by merging their entrepreneurial skills with their commitment to change and social impact.

They draw on their creative capacity, experiences, relationships and networks to draw together the resources to contribute to the desired change.

A social entrepreneur is a CHANGEMAKER

How Social Enterprises contribute to strengthening community resilience?

Examples of Social Enterprises in Northern Ontario

The Great Spirit Circle Trail

The Great Spirit Circle Trail offers nature-based and cultural tourism from an Indigenous perspective on beautiful, majestic Manitoulin Island and the Sagamok region of Northern Ontario, Canada. Tours are organized by Indigenous peoples who have carefully planned routes that offer a true reflection of the history and culture of the region and its original inhabitants – the Ojibwe, Odawa and Pottawatomi peoples.

La Maison Verte (Co-op)

Founded more than 30 years ago by Association Among-Elles, La Maison Verte in Hearst is a group of women whose goal since the 1980s has been to create businesses that provide employment for women. Over the years, La Maison Verte has made a significant contribution to the regional economy with the production of seedlings for reforestation as well as the production of fresh produce for local markets.

Épicerie Coop Grocery (Moonbeam)

An excellent example of a cooperative conversion, a community economic development success story. When a local grocery store came up for private sale, 550 community members raised $330,000 to purchase the business and retain it in the community as a co-operative.

Trailblazing Beads

This sole proprietorship creates social and economic impact through beading products and services. She travels to pow-wows and conferences, hotsts cultural events and beading classes, and partners with local agencies to provide various outreach. Her storefront location is providing easy access to supplies and support.

The Nickel Refillery

This zero-waste community hub and retail store in Sudbury offers package-free foods, ingredients, and DIY products. It hosts regular workshops, offers dish rentals and has an Energy Exchange program that is fueled by passionate and committed zero-wasters. It places value on all zero waste efforts, including innovation, teamwork, humility, and community level impact.