L'enterprise sociale

L’enterprise sociale

What is Social Enterprise?

At its essence, a social enterprise is a business or organization, whether not-for-profit or for-profit, which has a strategic mission/purpose to address community, social, environmental challenges, issues and needs in the interest of the common good. Because there are various legal and business structures under which social enterprises can exist throughout the world, and because socially-focused entrepreneurs are continually innovating to meet community needs, social enterprise models are in a state of global evolution.

Social enterprises in the world may exist as charities, non-profits, for-profits, corporations, NGOs, Cooperatives, Community Interest Corporations, and under other structures. They could also be registered under various certifications such B-Corp  or Social Enterprise Mark.  “No matter the structure, these (social enterprises) seek to deliver value to the marketplace while simultaneously solving community problems. » (Scott Henderson)

Definitions of social enterprise include:

  • “A social economy enterprise is one that operates like any other business, but its revenues and surpluses are directed towards social and environmental goals.” (BC Centre for Social Enterprise, 2013).
  • Three characteristics distinguish a social enterprise from other types of businesses, nonprofits and government agencies: It directly addresses an intractable social need and serves the common good, either through its products and services or through the number of disadvantaged people it employs. Its commercial activity is a strong revenue driver, whether a significant earned income stream within a nonprofit’s mixed revenue portfolio, or a for profit enterprise. The common good is its primary purpose, literally “baked into” the organization’s DNA, and trumping all others. (Social Enterprise Alliance)
  • “…A social enterprise is any organization that operates like a business, produces goods and services for the market, but manages operations and directs surpluses in the pursuit of social, environmental and community or cultural goals.”(Nova Scotia Social Enterprise Working Group)


In the past, social enterprise existed within charities, non-profits, and NGOs, which depended largely upon donations and upon funding from the government, provided support and assistance to the community. Some businesses also provided support to social and community causes. As governments became more fiscally challenged, their contributions to socially and community focused organizations began to decrease or disappear altogether.  Philanthropic donations also became negatively impacted by downturns in the global economy.  This presented a serious issue for those striving to address ever-increasing community needs.

At the same time, on the other side of the spectrum, were the for-profit businesses, facing pressure from customers to make a positive contribution towards the community and the environment. Many consumers became focused on the welfare of the community and wanted to purchase goods and services from socially responsible businesses instead of businesses that are focused towards profit maximization at any cost. The challenge to meet urgent community needs, with depleting resources, inspired a new global dialog and a focused engagement of socially-minded individuals and community-based organizations within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. This has sparked innovation, inspired social entrepreneurship and led to an evolving social enterprise landscape.

New Generation of Social Enterprise:

The new generation of social enterprise tends to be comprised of structural hybrids which combine the compassion of non-profits with the executional excellence of the private sector.  They include ventures and organizations that are solving social problems with sustainable business models and market–driven organizations that contribute positively to the community, society and environment. These viable hybrid models will enable perpetual economic prosperity with the creation of value through a triple bottom line via the three Ps: People, Planet, Profit.

  •  “We are trying to bring the compassion of the social sector to the for-profit sector. But for-profit companies are very Darwinian in nature, and so they have to have excellence in execution. The idea is to bring that execution excellence into the compassion of the non-profits – and you can create solutions that scale up in size.” (Desh Deshpande, (Globe and Mail, « Fueling a Passion for Innovation »)
  •  “My take on it (social enterprise) is that it is the meeting place between commercial and charitable enterprise. It is the part of the world where businesses that behave like charities, and charities that behave like businesses, find common cause.” (Jim Lynch-Techsoup.org)
  • “Rather than just making money, we need businesses that solve problems. We have enough technology, enough ability, and enough innovative capacity to make that happen.” (Schwab Foundation Blog Article on World Economic Forum 2012)

Nobel Peace 2006 Prize Awarded to Champions of Social Enterprise:

The Nobel Peace Prize 2006 was awarded jointly to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, Bangladesh, « for their efforts to create economic and social development from below » using a micro-credit model.

  • « Social business can be a significant driver for economic growth through identifying a social need and then meeting the need, creating self-supporting, non-dividend viable enterprises that produce goods and services that make the world a better place. His (Yunus) aspiration is that 1% of the global economy within the next five years should be based on the social business model. » Social Enterprise Mark Blog, UK)

Examples of Social Enterprise:

According to a recent statistical study, there are 600+ social enterprises in New Brunswick. Thoughout Canada there are thousands of social enterprises, and the global number is too large to count. We are including a few examples of social enterprises here and invite you to go to our link below to learn about many more.

Saint John Community Loan Fund:

« Changes 360 »:
As a registered charity, “Changes 360” is a social enterprise that provides personalized job readiness training and life coaching to those who are facing challenges to maintain or enter employment.  The programming is supported through is a boutique that sells quality used goods which also provides top customer service training and experience for clients. Link to Pat Carlson interview.

Shorefast Foundation, Fogo and Change Islands, Newfoundland and Labrador: The Shorefast Foundation is a Canadian registered charity. « We undertake projects built on social entrepreneurship, and we use entrepreneurial methods to create positive change.We look for and use new ideas, products, resources and opportunities in novel ways to tackle challenges. And we will know that they have worked by the benefit they will have for the community, by cultural resiliency and by finding new ways in an old continuity. »

Common Good Solutions:

Pond-Deshpande Centre and Social Enterprise

The PDC strives to be a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship in NEw     Examples Links:


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