Creating a Robust Social Enterprise Sector in Winnipeg

Manitoba Research Alliance

Year: 2009

This research began with an aspiration and a thesis. The aspiration is to create a robust social enterprise sector in Manitoba, especially in Winnipeg. The thesis is that other jurisdictions have created large scale, viable social enterprises that meet CED principles, whereas Winnipeg, while following the same principles, has tended to create small, grant dependent social enterprises. The purpose of the research is to test the thesis, examine the factors that have led to success elsewhere, and draw conclusions about how to replicate the success of other jurisdictions in Winnipeg.

The research has paid particular attention to the following social enterprise sectors:

  • The social enterprise sector in Winnipeg
  • The enterprises supported by the Community Economic Development Investment Funds in Nova Scotia
  • The Quebec Social Enterprise sector
  • Some enterprises developed through “sectoral strategies” in the United States
  • Some information has also been gathered from other jurisdictions.

In each of the jurisdictions that were researched, there was an attempt to learn about the characteristics of the enterprises that have been developed, as well as the interventions and supports that have helped them to flourish.

The enterprise characteristics were researched to determine whether there are any significant differences in the types of enterprises created in Winnipeg compared to the other jurisdictions. The research looked at characteristics such as:

  • The markets they serve
  • The ownership structure
  • Size of the enterprise
  • Social goals
  • Management background of the entrepreneur
  • How the enterprise achieves sustainability

The review of the supportive environment examined the character and priority of five specific interventions. They are:

  • Providing access to capital
  • Creating supportive networks
  • Creating the capacity to animate the social enterprise sector
  • Changing government or other procurement policies
  • Providing technical assistance to new or existing social enterprises

The intention of this research has been to inform the development of an action plan for creating a more robust social enterprise sector in Winnipeg. All of the research has been focused to that end. There has been no attempt to be exhaustive in the research. Rather the approach for each component of the research has been to assemble enough information to reach conclusions for the future directions of the Winnipeg social enterprise sector, and then to move on.

This report provides the highlights of the research, and the action plan that is now recommended for strengthening the Winnipeg social enterprise sector. Two companion documents have also been produced. One is a detailed assessment of the social enterprise funds/trusts, and tax credit programs that are instrumental in financing social enterprises in the other jurisdictions. The other is a proposal to create an animating capacity to exploit the many opportunities that exist to create a more robust social enterprise sector in Winnipeg.

Download the report

Table of Contents



The Characteristics of Social Enterprises in Winnipeg & Elsewhere

  • Winnipeg Enterprises
  • Quebec Enterprises
  • Nova Scotia Enterprises
  • Enterprises Created Through Sectoral Strategies in the USA
    • Commercial and residential cleaning
    • Home care worker cooperatives
  • A Social Enterprise Continuum
  • Priorities for Social Enterprise Development in Winnipeg

The Five Interventions

  • Creating the capacity to animate the social enterprise sector
    • A Winnipeg perspective
    • A national perspective
    • Two concluding thoughts on social enterprise animation
    • Three models for performing the animation function
  • Strengthening the skills and supportive networks for social entrepreneurs
    • A Winnipeg perspective
    • A national perspective
  • Providing access to capital
    • Capital needs of Winnipeg enterprises
    • General characteristics of social enterprise development funds
  • Changing government or other procurement policies
    • The Winnipeg perspective
    • The national perspective
  •      Providing wage subsidies
  •      Relative Priority of the Five Interventions
    • Lessons from Quebec
    • Lessons from Nova Scotia
    • The view from Winnipeg

An Action Plan for Social Enterprise Development in Winnipeg

  • Options For Developing An Animating Capacity
    • Programmatic option
    • Organizational options
  • Options To Strengthen, Develop And Support Social Enterprise Entrepreneurs
  • Improving access to investment capital
    • Reflections regarding a Manitoba Social Enterprise Investment Fund Model
    • Summary of Investment Capital Recommendations
  • Summary of Action Plan Recommendations