A new five-year strategy to help social enterprises grow their businesses, enter new markets and create jobs, while addressing complex social and environmental challenges, has been launched by the Ontario Government. More than $6 million will be invested in the first year of this renewed strategy.
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.
Ontario’s Social Enterprise Strategy 2016-2021 will focus on:
- 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
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
- 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. – CINEWS