Social Enterprise Canada

September 16, 2013

New site a ‘virtual water cooler’ for Canada’s social enterprise sector

Trico Charitable Foundation director Michele Fugiel Gartner envisions the recently launched site as a virtual water cooler for the Canadian social enterprise sector.

The new site is the fruit of a collaborative effort between Enterprising Non-profits (ENP) Canada, the Social Enterprise Council of Canada and its representatives based across the country, each of the affiliated ENP sites and their funders, as well as others.

“We have always found that taking a collaborative approach to solving community challenges results in better solutions for everyone,” says ENP communications manager Michelle Eggli. She refers to ENP BC’s 15 years of effective partnerships with a variety of organizations and individuals, resulting in a number of valuable outputs, including the recently revised Canadian Social Enterprise Guide.

Vancity Community Foundation executive director Derek Gent says he doesn’t usually get too excited about websites, but this one has him pretty jazzed – especially as he sees potential for it to help build a greater sense of solidarity and connection around social enterprise.

“By encouraging us to work together — big ones helping small ones, rural and urban, with a variety of impact objectives, perspectives, capacity levels and risk tolerances – this is the only way we can make a serious dent in the mainstream economy and help people see the non-profit sector in a new light,” Derek says.

From consumers looking to change their purchasing habits to social enterprisers seeking support, investors keen to explore a new approach to financing, reporters, researchers, politicians or students, the site has much to offer both those already engaged in the social enterprise sector and those “just looking.”

Resources and toolkits are available for those planning an enterprise. Fresh news from across the sector will be published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The site also has links to organizations across Canada that are willing and able to assist in a variety of ways.

In addition, ENP Canada’s policy framework is posted and there is a business directory of Canadian social enterprises intended for interested purchasers. Michelle Eggli notes a social portal is in the works to foster discussions that can take place across regions and themes.

Technology partner TELUS highlights the site’s Marketplace as an especially noteworthy offering.

“The site’s Marketplace makes it easy to find social enterprises to buy from, with the ability to limit searches to local organizations if ‘buying local’ matters,” says TELUS director of community affairs Corinne Campney. “Creating that convenience, in a trusted environment, is a true breakthrough and addresses one of the key challenges of social enterprises: connecting them with customers.”

The new site is a valuable resource for the sector as it provides a single window for accessing a wide range of very important and effective tools and resources for our work, regional co-ordinator for the Canadian Community Economic Development Network Brendan Reimer sums up. “It is a good-looking site, clean and clear, and it is easy to find the things you are looking for,” he adds.

Like Derek, Brendan says he sees the site as another way to connect the social enterprise community across the country, “something that is essential if we are really going to build a robust, supportive environment . . . so that we can grow and achieve our desired collective impact in communities from coast to coast to coast.”

Michele Fugiel Gartner says a website is only good if it is serving its community of users and appears to be starting off on the right foot in that regard.

Social entrepreneurs finding the support they need to succeed and achieve impact is the best she’s happening through the site, Michele adds. Related to this, she’d like to see the many networks that can provide business training, funding/financing, innovative thinking and proven models making the most of the opportunity the site offers to connect and share resources and stories.

“Ultimately, will not just be a website, but a way of doing business and creating social impact,” Michele says.

Writer: Michelle Strutzenberger, Axiom News

Return to the Newsroom