Government of Ontario launches five-year strategy to support social enterprises

At the Allstream Centre in Toronto, Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Growth unveiled a five-year strategy meant to help social enterprises grow and enter new markets while addressing social and environmental challenges.

In the first year of the strategy, Ontario will invest at least $6 million as it looks to equip social enterprises with business fundamentals and connect businesses to markets and capital.

“We’re excited to work with sector leaders, impact investors, academia and government to continue building strong, high-growth and scalable social enterprises,” said Duguid. “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.”

Specific initiatives to support social enterprises include integrating specialized social entrepreneurship supports, such as impact measurement, into mainstream entrepreneurship programs; developing a Social Enterprise Procurement Action Plan to increase the government’s procurement from social enterprises; and designing a new Social Venture Investment Fund to accelerate the flow of private investment capital to growing social enterprises; and piloting social impact bonds.

The Ontario government also wants to establish a Centre of Excellence in Social Enterprise and Social Finance to help government leverage social enterprises and social finance to achieve policy objectives, as well as an Impact Measurement Task Force.

There are an estimated 10,000 social enterprises in Ontario, and in 2014, Ontario’s social enterprises employed an average of 38 people and generated an average of $1.2 million in revenues.