Social Enterprise Canada

January 10, 2014

Nova Scotia has notable social enterprise wins in 2013

While the social enterprise sector sizzled with activity across Canada last year, the province of Nova Scotia in particular had some notable social enterprise wins in 2013.

Canada’s First Social Impact Bond Financing Approved in Nova Scotia

The 2013 Speech from the Throne declared that Nova Scotia would be the first Canadian jurisdiction to offer Social Impact Bonds.

The initiative is a five-year commitment with $250,000 dedicated for the first year to launch. While provincial elections last fall have since slowed the initiative’s implementation, it's anticipated that projects financed by the bonds will start to be introduced early in the new fiscal year, says David Upton, president of the Atlantic Council for Community and Social Enterprise and co-founder of Common Good Solutions along with Andy Horsnell.

Canada’s Sole Social Enterprise Loan Guarantee Program Hits $2 million

Canada’s only Social Enterprise Loan Guarantee Program, which is offered through local credit unions, reached the $2-million mark in loan-guaranteed money for social enterprises last year.

The program has operated for two years, and is one of several strong financial tools available to support social enterprise in Nova Scotia. For this reason, the province could be considered a frontrunner in addressing the access-to-finance challenge that social enterprises typically face, David says. Other tools available include the Nova Scotia Community Business Development Corporations’ Social Enterprise loan program, which offers financing of up to $150,000 to assist social enterprises. This program lends around $1 million per year.

The Community Economic Development Investment Fund, though not only for social enterprise, has also been used by social enterprises with much success. One social enterprise in particular, New Dawn Enterprises, has raised about $1 million per year for the last seven years, using the fund.

Nova Scotia Passes Hybrid Corporation Legislation

On Dec. 6, 2012, Nova Scotia passed the Community Interest Company (CIC) designation into law through the Community Interest Companies Act.

To be designated a CIC, a company must have a community purpose, according to one description. “Examples of such community purposes are the provision of health, social, environmental, cultural or educational services.”

The legislation is not yet in force yet, largely because of the elections, but the hope is that will happen early this year.

Canada’s First Social Enterprise Management Certificate Program Created

Common Good Solutions Inc. has created Canada's first Social Enterprise Management Certificate Program.

A first cohort of 15 students begins the six-module program next week. All are affiliated with independent, non-profit organizations serving people who have an intellectual disability in the province. Each organization has combined program and sales revenues in excess of $1 million.

“We imagine mostly non-profit professionals who are engaged already in social enterprise activity would benefit from taking a program like this,” David says.

“This is a way to bring them up to speed and help them develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to be more successful with their organization’s (social enterprise activity).”

Common Good Solutions’ hope is to partner across the country to offer the certificate program in other jurisdictions.

“We’d like to start a new cohort every month,” David says. “There is an opportunity here and a real market and demand for this kind of professional training.”

The Hope Blooms urban farm program includes a 3,600-square-foot community garden and 30’ by 22’ greenhouse.

Successful Dragon's Den Pitch Hails from Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia also had a media spotlight shining on it when a group of children from Halifax's north end pitched their social enterprise on the renowned Dragon’s Den television show last fall – and ended up inspiring all six “dragons” to open their wallets.

Hope Blooms was founded in 2008 as a youth-led grassroots project enabling the community to take ownership of their food sources and empower people to make a difference in their lives and the community at large.

Today, it includes 27 garden plots with more than 40 youth involved. It also has its own greenhouse and a commercial kitchen where the youth make salad dressings that are sold to community.

The social enterprise has received numerous awards and cross-country media coverage.

-- More to Come on intentions and anticipations for Nova Scotia in 2014.

Writer: Michelle Strutzenberger

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