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Social entrepreneurship 101: What is social entrepreneurship?

What do you do if you want to change the world, but you can’t even figure out what people are talking about? First of all, don’t feel bad. The social impact sector has a lot of terms that sound like they all mean the same thing, but it is important to make sure you are using the right one.

Once you have an understanding of the language, you are really able to level-up your impact. Using content from our Social Entrepreneurship 101 program, let’s get you the vocabulary you need.

WHAT IS SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP?
We like this definition from the Ashoka Foundation: Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social, cultural, and environmental challenges. They are ambitious and persistent — tackling major issues and offering new ideas for systems-level change. They create value, whether through a social sector organization or a business, that sustains and spreads their solution.

WHAT IS SOCIAL INNOVATION?
Here at CSI, this is the definition that resonates with us most: Social innovation refers to the creation, development, adoption, and integration of new and renewed concepts, systems, and practices that put people and planet first.

WHAT IS A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE?
One key element of all social enterprises is the fact that some percentage of revenue is directed to addressing a specific issue. The Government of Canada uses this definition: A social enterprise seeks to achieve social, cultural or environmental aims through the sale of goods and services. The social enterprise can be for-profit or not-for-profit but the majority of net profits must be directed to a social objective with limited distribution to shareholders and owners.

WHAT IS A B CORP?
A B Corp is a company that adheres to specific legal and ethical requirements, but does not direct part of its revenue towards making social change. The official definition is: Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

WHAT IS NOT A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE?
A business that practices ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ – These days, virtually every large corporation has a department that works on corporate social responsibility. But this work sits apart from the core business lines, it does do not shape those business lines. These departments can do a lot of good, but they do not make the company a social enterprise.

A ‘good’ business – There are a whole lot of “good” businesses that operate in socially responsible and sustainable ways. Generally, businesses that do not make their money through addressing a social or environmental issue are not considered social enterprises no matter how ethically they operate.

A businesses where impact is a by-product, not a strategy – There are companies who deliver a good or service that improves the life of a group or an individual, but this does not make them a social enterprise. You might buy a book at a book store that changes your life, but that doesn’t make the book store a social enterprise.


Is it your dream to create a social enterprise? We can help! Learn more about our Social Entrepreneurship 101 program. It covers all aspects of social entrepreneurship, from making sure you’ve identified the right problem, to turning your solution into a sustainable business model.

Social entrepreneurship 101: What is business modelling and why is it important?

There is growing evidence that being proactive about creating your business model will help you reach your goals most efficiently. Using content from our Social Entrepreneurship 101 program, let’s get you started.

Wait, but what if I am not running a business?
For some people, the word “enterprise” (particularly “social enterprise”) is a better fit to describe their work. That’s fine! Put simply, an enterprise (or a business!) is a for-profit or not-for-profit organization engaged in commercial, industrial or professional activities.

So what is a business model?
A model is a representation of a thing; not the thing itself. Like, if you wanted to build a house, you wouldn’t just start laying a foundation. You would create a 3D model to help you get a solid idea of how everything will fit together and relate to each other. You are likely to go through multiple iterations before you are happy and give the go-ahead to start building. It is the same with a business or enterprise! A model helps us see the context of our enterprise, opens our eyes to opportunities, and surfaces assumptions.

How do you create a business model?
Business models are made up of stories and numbers. The best way to pull those together is through a visual design tool called a canvas. There are literally hundreds of modelling canvases available. SE 101 works with the Flourishing Business Canvas, because it looks at the social value that is being created, as well as the environmental and financial viability needed to build an enterprise that is sustainable.

This short video filmed at CSI Annex goes into more detail:

Designing and modelling your enterprise on a canvas allows you see it, touch it and engage with it until it gets to a place where it can be born.


Get support creating your business model in our Social Entrepreneurship 101 program. It covers all aspects of social entrepreneurship.

CSI Supports: How CSI is helping you build your skills from home

We hope you are able to stay put during this quarantine, but we still want to help you put people and planet first. So we are offering advisory hours, an educational webinar and online morning chat to help you make that happen.

Virtual Advisor Office Hours at CSI’s Climate Ventures — March 20
Are you a Climate Entrepreneur looking to accelerate your impact? Jonathan Carley and Bryan Duarte are experts in business development as well as also business modelling and validation. On March 20 from 3-5pm, they are offering virtual advisor office hours. Please note that this is reserved for CSI member working on climate or environmental issues. Register for a slot here.

Tax Season for SelfEmployed Entrepreneurs — March 24
Are you an entrepreneur looking to demystify the tax preparation process? CSI is hosting an upcoming event to help you out! This workshop will review:

  • Tax basics: what you’re obligated to, including when and why you need to file your taxes.
  • DIY (or not!): How to decide whether you can prepare your tax return yourself, or if it makes sense to hire a professional.
  • Tax brackets: What are they and what do they mean for your business?
  • Business expenses: What can be deducted from your taxable income, and what tax benefits you may be eligible for.
  • Expenses: How to track them, and what online programs and tools can help.

Climate Ventures (Virtual) Mornings: A Conversation with Nick Parker — April 2
We’re sitting down (virtually, of course!) with Nicholas Parker, a cleantech pioneer. Join us for a conversation on cleantech with the person who coined the term “cleantech”! We’ll discuss its history, current trends, and investment landscape.Please note that we’ll use Zoom to connect. Details will be sent to confirmed registrants the week before the event.


To learn how CSI is showing leadership during COVID-19, please read these words from our CEO Tonya Surman.

 

 

Toronto Vital Signs Report – Issue Nine: Learning

Toronto Foundation has just released Vital Signs Report 2019: Growing Pains and Narrow Gains. This report provides a consolidated snapshot of the trends and issues affecting the quality of life in our city and each of the interconnected issue areas is critical to the wellbeing of Toronto and its residents.

Vital Signs examines ten issue areas. We are going to explore highlights of each of these sections. Issue Nine is Learning.

Toronto is home to 55 language-training schools and 140 private career colleges. High-school graduation rates are improving, and more people are going to post-secondary schools. But far more students are saying they do not enjoy school, and the pressure to succeed is growing, while tuition is getting more and more expensive.

  • Graduation rates are improving across all demographics, while select overlooked groups still have much lower graduation rates.
  • Income is a strong predictor of high-school graduation.
  • Toronto elementary students are struggling in math, and the situation is getting worse.
  • More students are reporting they do not enjoy school, and the pressure to secure good grades is increasing, while mental health challenges among youth are growing very rapidly.
  • More students are obtaining a post-secondary education, with big improvements in many overlooked groups, though children in single-parent families are still lagging behind.
  • Tuition costs have increased well beyond inflation in Toronto.
  • International student numbers have doubled recently, as more students are coming to Canada.
  • Many newcomers with advanced degrees are working in jobs requiring no education.

CSI member Andrea Fanjoy is part of a project to design an independent secondary school that distinctly offers what students need to thrive at school and lifelong. It will invite them to leverage their passions and talents to enrich their learning. It will connect students with external experts and partner with organizations in the GTA for the value they bring to student learning. It will challenge students to exercise leadership in their learning, and support them as they begin having an authentic impact on their corner of the world.