Types of Social Entrepreneurship [YSE]

Social entrepreneurship is the process of pursuing innovative solutions to address social, environmental and economic problems in a variety of ways.




What is a community project?

A community project is a term applied to any community-based project or initiative. This covers a wide variety of different areas within a community or a group. Projects can cover almost anything that concerns the community and aims to address a social, environmental or economic issue.

Examples in Northern Ontario

Paquataskamik Project, Fort Albany First Nation – The Paquataskamik Project is a community-based research and learning initiative aimed at fostering inter-generational dialogue and understanding about the importance of traditional territory to social, cultural and economic well-being. The project involves the ongoing development of a community process bringing together youth, adults and elders. (Learn more)

Timmins Community Gardens, Timmins – The Community Gardens are parcels of land divided into small plots to provide residents with access to fresh produce, support nutritional health, strengthen neighbourhood connections, promote sustainability, and increase physical activity in the community. The Gardens is a volunteer project created through a collaborative partnership of the United Way, Timmins Economic Development Corporation, The Anti-Hunger Coalition, Timmins Family Health Team, The Porcupine Health Unit, The Mountjoy Farmers’ Market, Mattagami Region Conservation Authority and individuals from the community.  (Learn more)





What is a non-profit organization?

A non-profit organization (NPO) is an incorporated organization which exists for educational or charitable reasons, and from which its shareholders do not benefit financially. Surplus revenues is reinvested in the organization to achieve its goals, and used for its own expenses, operations, and programs.

In order to reduce dependency on traditional sources of funding and revenue, non-profits are financing their sustainability through a mix of revenue sources that include for-profit businesses, such as local thrift stores.

Examples in Northern Ontario

La Maison Verte, HearstLa Maison Verte is owned by the non-profit Association Parmi-Elles, a group of women whose objective since the early 1980’s has been to set up business ventures that create jobs for women. Over the years, La Maison Verte has contributed greatly to the regional economy through the production of tree seedlings for reforestation and the supply of fresh produce to local markets. (Learn more)

Thinking Rock Community Arts, Sault Ste. Marie – Thinking Rock Community Arts invites communities to share the stories and histories of rural and First Nations communities within the Algoma Region through collective, multidisciplinary and cross-cultural community arts projects. Thinking Rock accomplishes this by supporting young people to co-create the communities they want to live in and consulting for businesses and community groups. (Learn more)


 What is a Co-operative?

Co-operatives (or “co-ops”) are community-focused businesses that balance people, planet and profit. Co-ops are legally incorporated organizations owned by their members who use their services or purchase their products. Co-ops can provide virtually any product or service, and can be either non-profit or for-profit enterprises. The co-operative sector keeps dollars circulating within the local economy, provides secure employment and is a means to revitalize and sustain healthy communities. (Read more)

Why choose the Co-operative model?

Browse the On Co-op Business Comparison FactSheet to learn more about how the Cooperative model measures up to private and not-for-profit corporations.

Want to find a Co-operative in your community?

Browse the On Co-op online directory to find a Cooperative in your community.


Co-operative Young Leaders Program:

Ontario credit unions and co-ops give young people a chance to attend Co-operative Young Leader programs every summer, an experience unlike any other. This week-long initiative brings young people together from all across Ontario to learn about, and practice, communication and leadership through co‑operative activities. (Read more)


All 4 Each – Co-ops in the Classroom:

The Ontario Co-operative Association has successfully re-introduced education about co-operatives into classrooms in a unique and fun way. This program, called All 4 Each: A unit to inspire a co-operative conscience, engages students in business, civics, and world studies classes about the 7 principles, the triple bottom line, and other benefits unique to co-operative enterprise all in the context of their standard curriculum. (Read more)

For more information and access to a large online library of documents about co-operatives in Ontario, visit The Ontario Co-operative Association’s website.

Examples in Northern Ontario

Cloverbelt Local Food Co-op, Dryden – The Cloverbelt Local Food Co-op (CLFC) aims to strengthen food security by encouraging diverse local food production, thereby enhancing overall rural sustainability. This cooperative is unique in that it uses an online platform to connect producers and consumers from a multitude or remote and rural communities in Northern Ontario. (Learn more)

Eat Local Sudbury, Sudbury – Eat Local Sudbury (ELS) a grocery store and distributor that connects eaters with producers. The store primarily sells produce from farms within a 150 miles radius of Sudbury, secondly from the rest of Ontario. The co-op serves as a hub for area consumers and producers. Eat Local Sudbury exists to serve its members and to support and promote local food. (Learn more)

True North Community Co-op, Thunder Bay – True North is a non-profit, community-based co-operative in Thunder Bay, Ontario aimed at building community resilience in Northern Ontario through a stronger localized economy. True North Community Co-operative is an incorporated, non-profit co-op run by a volunteer board of directors elected by and from the membership. The co-operative provides an opportunity for regional producers to market their goods at a fair price and for Northern Ontarians to access quality, regionally produced foods and handcrafts. (Learn more)



What is a social enterprise?

A social enterprise, typically initiated by a non-profit, uses business operations and strategies to generate revenue from the private market to assist in sustaining the organization’s primary services. Different forms of Social Enterprise can include:

  • Training for those with challenges in facing the workforce
  • Employment creation for marginalized populations
  • Non-profits that house social enterprises with the goal of subsidizing their services
  • Non-profits/private sector business partnerships that support the goals of the non-profit
  • Businesses owned and operated by Indigenous communities

Armstrong, A., Mook, L., and Quarter, J. (2009). Understanding the social economy: A Canadian perspective. University of Toronto Press Incorporated: Toronto, ON. (pp. 107-109)


Examples in Northern Ontario

Roots to Harvest (Urban Youth Garden), Thunder BayRoots to Harvest’s mission is to provide transformative educational opportunities for youth to engage with local agriculture and cultivate healthy communities. They have a vision of a future where youth are leaders, connecting a diverse community and cultivating food that’s healthy and accessible. (Learn more)

Soogoma Industries Recycling Depot, Sault Ste. MarieSoogoma Recycling Depot is an arm of Community Living Algoma (a not for profit that offers services for adults with developmental disabilities). Soogoma hires CLA clients who would otherwise face barriers to employment. Recycling services provided to the community generate revenue, which is then invested back into Soogoma operations. (Learn more)

Aroland Blueberry Youth Initiative, Aroland First NationAroland hires youth to harvest blueberries and sell them at farmers markets. It presents an opportunity for Aboriginal youth to provide food for themselves, learn from each other, be active and earn a wage. Money raised from selling the berries goes towards funding extracurricular events in the community. Values are learned in a dynamic interaction with the ecosystem. (Learn more)

ThunderBird Rock Nimkiibneshiinhaszhibik, Sault Ste. Marie & BatchewanaThunderBird Rock offers educational eco/culture tours and activities near Whitefish Island; focusing on First Nations culture and historical elements of Sault Ste. Marie. Throughout the tour the following specialties are available: craft making, nature walks and teachings. (Learn more)



What is a social purpose business?

A social purpose business is a profit making enterprise that also has a positive social and/or environmental impact. Another way to describe a social purpose business refers to having a blended value or triple bottom line: people, planet, profit.

Examples in Northern Ontario

Tidy & Clean Housekeeping Service, Thunder Bay – Tidy & Clean is an environmentally friendly housekeeping service that strictly uses certfified Eco-friendly cleaning products as well as products made from recycled material that are made in Canada! (Learn more)

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

Creative eLearning Design, Sudbury – Creative e-Learning Design’s aims to develop pedagogically sound education and training opportunities online that could address the various accessibility needs of Northerners seeking to acquire training and education.