CSI launches Soshent platform to connect social entrepreneurs to funding and mentorship

The Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), in partnership with over 30 organizations across Ontario, is launching Soshent.net, a digital platform for social entrepreneurs and social mission organizations seeking programs, funding, mentorship, and other resources.

CSI said the decision to launch Soshent.net came as a result of Ontario’s growing social enterprise sector. The platform will consist of a range of tools designed to help social mission organizations and entrepreneurs accelerate success by matching them with resources such as loans, grants, workspace, training programs, and mentorship.

“We think [Soshent.net] is going to save everyone a lot of time and get these great tools into the hands of the people who need them.”

“Right now, social-mission organizations can’t find what they need,” said Heather Farquharson, director of partnerships at CSI. “With Soshent, you could enter: ‘I’m a non-profit, urban farm, looking for grants, volunteers, and pitch competitions.’ hit search, and Soshent will give you a list of opportunities that match. You can apply to any or all of them right on the spot. We think it’s going to save everyone a lot of time and get these great tools into the hands of the people who need them.”

CSI also noted that Soshent — which was developed with the support of the Government of Ontario’s Social Enterprise Demonstration Fund, the City of Toronto, Economic Development and Culture Division, and TD Bank Group — aims to represent all of Ontario’s social innovation sector including accelerators, competitions, grants, training programs, and more.

“Social entrepreneurs have the ideas and talent to create successful businesses,” says Brad Duguid, minister of economic development and growth. “By supporting programs like this through our Social Enterprise Demonstration Fund, we are accelerating the growth of promising social enterprises, helping to scale their impact, and supporting stronger communities.”

“We’re hoping by collecting enterprise information up-front and making the match for them, entrepreneurs will save time and program providers will find who they’re looking for.”

Kyle Shantz, marketing manager at CSI, said creating a platform with opportunities and resources for social entrepreneurs and organizations is necessary because the process to launch and scale social enterprises in Ontario remains fragmented.

He added that until now, there hasn’t been a central database of opportunities for social entrepreneurs, preventing them from being fully aware and informed of deadlines and details about programs and funding that could be useful to them.

“Complicating the issue is that often these opportunities are only available to very specific types of organizations, or very specific programs and objectives, so social enterprises waste a lot of time just trying to determine if they’re eligible for an identified opportunity,” said Shantz. “We’re hoping by collecting enterprise information up-front and making the match for them, entrepreneurs will save time and program providers will find who they’re looking for.”

In September 2016, CSI appointed Adil Dhalla as its new executive director, with Karine Jaouich as its new chief operating officer. In October 2016, the organization announced it would offer an intensive 17-week program to accelerate the growth of social enterprise businesses in Ontario.

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer at BetaKit. As a fourth-year journalism student who has written primarily about entrepreneurship, Amira has developed a growing interest in Canadian startup, business, and tech news. In her free time, Amira enjoys reading, baking and watching legal shows.