Ontario Launches New Social Enterprise Strategy

June 21, 2016

Launch of new 5-year social enterprise strategyProvince Accelerating Growth of Social Enterprises to Create Jobs and Strengthen Economy

Ontario has launched a new five-year strategy that will help social enterprises grow their businesses, enter new markets and create jobs, while addressing complex social and environmental challenges.

Ontario’s Social Enterprise Strategy 2016-2021 sets out significant commitments in three key 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 

Ontario will invest more than $6 million in the first year of this renewed strategy. 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
  • Designing a new 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.

Ontario Launches New Social Enterprise StrategyQuick Facts

  • There are about 10,000 social enterprises in Ontario.
  • Social enterprises use business strategies to achieve a social or environmental impact. While generating revenues from the sale of goods and services, social enterprises also expressly intend to create positive outcomes, and they measure their results. As their business grows, the social impact grows.
  • Over 400 stakeholder and sector leaders participated in the consultations to inform the development of the strategy.
  • In 2014, Ontario’s social enterprises employed an average of 38 people and generated an average of $1.2 million in revenues.
  • Globally, impact investment – investments growing both financial return and social/environmental impact – is on the rise, with an estimated market size of $80 billion.
  • Through an open, competitive procurement process, an independent evaluator has recently been hired to assess two frontrunner ideas for implementation as Social Impact Bond pilot projects.
  • A Social Impact Bond is an innovative financing tool based on a pay-for-performance contract where government works collaboratively with service providers and the private sector to deliver social services.

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“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.” Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Growth

“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.” Marc Soberano, Founder and Executive Director, Building Up

“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.” Michelle Baldwin, Executive Director, Pillar Nonprofit Network