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Ontario Announce Five-Year Social Enterprise Growth Strategy



Ontario has revealed plans for a five-year strategy to increase the growth of sustainable and scalable social enterprises. Ontario’s Social Enterprise Strategy 2016-2021 offers support for social enterprises to help them, enter new markets and create jobs. The strategy also addresses complicated social and environmental challenges and highlights commitments in three key areas.

The strategy sets out significant commitments in the following three areas:

–  Equipping social enterprises with solid business fundamentals

–  Connecting social enterprises to markets and capital to grow and scale

–  Demonstrating the value of social enterprise and social finance to investors, government, and communities

The province will leverage Ontario’s existing entrepreneurship infrastructure, impact investment capital, and a growing market opportunity to support social enterprises. Some of the feature initiatives include:

– Integrating specialized social entrepreneurship supports, such as impact measurement, into mainstream entrepreneurship programs, such as those offered through the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs 

– Developing a Social Enterprise Procurement Action Plan to increase the Ontario government’s procurement from social enterprises

– Exploring the design of a Social Venture Investment Fund to accelerate the flow of private investment capital to growing social enterprises

– Establishing an Impact Measurement Task Force to build consensus on uniform impact measurement standards for social enterprises

– Piloting one or more Social Impact Bonds to improve social outcomes

– Establishing a Centre of Excellence in Social Enterprise and Social Finance to help government leverage social enterprises and social finance as tools to achieve policy objectives

The strategy builds on the success of the province’s first social enterprise strategy, including the launch of programs such as the Social Enterprise Demonstration Fund, the Rate Drop Rebate pilot program, Ontario’s Social Impact Voucher Program, and the Ontario – California Impact Investment Partnership that is helping to expand the SVX platform into California and encourage cross-border capital flows into Ontario-based social ventures.

Accelerating the growth of Ontario’s social enterprise sector is part of the government’s economic plan to build Ontario up and deliver on its number-one priority to grow the economy and create jobs. The four-part plan includes investing in talent and skills, including helping more people get and create the jobs of the future by expanding access to high-quality college and university education. The plan is making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history and investing in a low-carbon economy driven by innovative, high-growth, export-oriented businesses. The plan is also helping working Ontarians achieve a more secure retirement.

Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development of Employment and Infrastructure, said: “We’re excited to work with sector leaders, impact investors, academia and government to continue building strong, high-growth and scalable social enterprises. This is an area in which we can leverage our ongoing support of entrepreneurship infrastructure, a growing supply of impact investing capital and an expanding market opportunity to activate the development of sustainable and scalable social enterprises. As we help these businesses grow, so too will their positive social impact on Ontario and beyond.”

Marc Soberano, Founder and Executive Director of Building Up, said: “As a social enterprise, Building Up’s team is thrilled to see that the government is continuing its support to grow the sector and elevate it to the next level. Social enterprises like us are able to maximize our potential to create social, environmental and economic value when we have the support of our communities, customers, funders and government.”

Michelle Baldwin, Executive Director of Pillar Non-profit Network, said: “It’s essential that social enterprises across Ontario are able to access the support they need to develop a sound social enterprise business model, which includes strong revenue generating strategies and a plan for creating impact in their communities. Ontario’s plan to integrate social enterprise supports into existing entrepreneurship infrastructure will enable social enterprises to compete on the global stage.”