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Social Entrepreneurship: Making an Impact with Your Startup

By 25 April 2024May 15th, 2024No Comments

The term “commerce” can sometimes be associated with negative aspects of capitalism. However, commerce is simply the act of buying or selling goods, and providing services. Also, it’s a fundamental aspect of human society.

When used for social good, commerce can be a powerful tool. Social entrepreneurship combines business principles with social impact, creating businesses that address social or environmental challenges.

If you’re interested in launching a business that makes a positive difference, social entrepreneurship could be your best option. 


There’s a growing demand for ethical businesses. Here’s why:

  • A majority of consumers (56%) have stopped supporting companies with unethical practices.
  • Ethical considerations are increasingly important for many consumers (63%).
  • Many consumers (58%) feel good about buying products made ethically.

Suppose you are feeling overwhelmed about building a scalable startup in Canada. This guide offers practical advice and addresses common questions, helping you navigate the startup process for a social impact business.

Social Entrepreneurship: The Definition

Social entrepreneurship is a growing field where businesses address social or environmental issues. It can take many forms, from non-profit organizations and charities to for-profit social enterprises.

Unlike traditional businesses that focus on profit and market share, social entrepreneurs prioritize making a positive impact. They’re often passionate about a cause they’re personally connected to, which drives their business’s mission.

Instead of focusing on revenue growth, social entrepreneurs measure success by the impact they create, such as jobs, environmental improvements, or funds donated to solve the problem they’re tackling.

There are an estimated 10 million social enterprises worldwide, all united by the idea of putting purpose before profit. These businesses have a significant impact, with a combined annual revenue of around $2 trillion, while creating positive change.

Rise of Businesses with a Social Mission

The number of businesses focused on social and environmental good (impact startups) has grown noticeably in recent years, and we expect this trend to continue. Several factors contribute to this rise.

  • Public Demand: People increasingly expect companies to benefit society and the environment, not just generate profits.
  • Funding Availability: More resources are available to invest in and support these businesses.
  • Social Entrepreneurship as a Model: The idea of using business to solve social problems is gaining wider acceptance as a legitimate and profitable approach.

Technology plays a key role too and It allows impact startups to:

  • Reach More People: They can connect with a broader audience interested in their mission.
  • Find New Solutions: Technology fosters innovation in tackling global challenges.

Also, support from governments, non-profits, and large companies adds credibility and strengthens the overall impact of social entrepreneurship.

The growth of impact startups reflects our human desire to solve problems and create a better world through innovative solutions.

Social Entrepreneurship’s Positive Influence on Society

Social entrepreneurship significantly affects society in many ways. It combines business practices with a focus on social and environmental issues. Also, it allows social entrepreneurs to develop solutions for critical global problems.

Social entrepreneurs address challenges like poverty, lack of healthcare, educational access, and environmental concerns. Their impact is substantial. In addition, social entrepreneurship can lead to broader changes, influencing entire industries and how businesses traditionally operate.

Beyond its direct impact, social entrepreneurship inspires others. It shows how businesses can create positive change. 

This model empowers individuals to use their skills and resources to make a difference. Notably, social entrepreneurship demonstrates that businesses can be successful and profitable while also improving the world. It proves that businesses can be a powerful force for good.

Key Qualities of Effective Social Entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurs are individuals driven to make a positive social or environmental impact. As a result of their specific skills and characteristics, they can succeed in this endeavor. Here are some of the most important:

  • Passion for Change: They have a deep commitment to addressing social or environmental issues and a strong desire to create positive change.
  • Problem-Solvers: They excel at identifying complex problems and developing effective solutions.
  • Resilient: The journey of a social entrepreneur is rarely easy. They possess the grit and determination to overcome challenges and keep moving forward.
  • Visionary Thinkers: They can imagine a better future and the impact they want to make.
  • Creative Minds: They approach problems with ingenuity, often developing unique solutions.
  • Team Builders: They understand the power of collaboration and can establish strong partnerships.
  • Financial Savvy: They have a good grasp of financial principles and can manage their ventures effectively.

It’s important to remember that not every successful social entrepreneur embodies all these qualities. However, possessing even a few of them can significantly contribute to building a thriving social enterprise with a lasting impact.

5 Social Enterprise Companies in Canada

We’ve covered the basics of social enterprises. Now, let’s see some real-world examples of these businesses operating in Canada.

Startup Ecosystem Canada: Supporting Startups

Startup Ecosystem Canada works to help startups across Canada succeed. We do this by bringing startup communities together through workshops and events. These events offer valuable opportunities for startups to learn, network, and find resources. 

However, SEC likely functions in a way that supports social good for Canada’s startup scene. Here’s how:

  • Social Impact: SEC’s mission focuses on empowering Canadian entrepreneurs and startups. It helps businesses create positive social change by fostering innovation and job creation.
  • Community focus: SEC emphasizes connecting startups with stakeholders that can help them grow. This fosters a collaborative environment that benefits the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem in Canada.

CTA: Want to get involved and give back to the society? Sign in to learn more about our programs and events.

Artscape in Toronto

Artscape is a group of non-profit organizations that work together. They partner with artists, community leaders, and others interested in city development to create spaces and programs for artists. Their goal is to achieve this while also improving the overall community in several ways, including:

  • Culture
  • Social Benefits
  • Economic Benefits
  • Environmental Benefits

BottleWorks in Ottawa

BottleWorks is a social program in Ottawa that collects empty alcohol bottles from donors. They then sell these bottles to raise money. This money helps homeless and young people who are at risk of homelessness.

BottleWorks hires young people who may have difficulty finding other jobs. They provide these young people with social support and teach them valuable skills they can use in the workplace. 

BottleWorks donates all its profits to Operation Come Home, a charity that provides employment and education opportunities for homeless and at-risk youth.

The Family Centre in Edmonton

The Family Centre is a welcoming and inclusive organization in Edmonton. They serve people of all ages, backgrounds, and identities. They are a non-profit focused on mental health and well-being.

The Family Centre emphasizes creating a safe and supportive environment. They are trained in trauma-informed care, which means they understand the impact of past experiences and work to create a comfortable space for healing.

A-Way Express in Toronto

A-Way Express is a courier company with a social mission. Founded by individuals with mental health experiences, they offer stable jobs and a supportive community for a group facing high unemployment rates. This focus on financial security and belonging empowers mental health survivors.

Beyond employment, A-Way Express prioritizes employee well-being. From healthy meals to social activities, they create a positive and supportive work environment. 

The program is backed by the City of Toronto and offers additional career development resources, ensuring long-term success for their staff.

Investment and Funding for Social Entrepreneurship

Investment and funding are essential for social entrepreneurship to thrive. Without them, turning innovative ideas into impactful ventures can be challenging. Here’s how funding helps social entrepreneurs:

  • Getting Started (Seed Capital): Early investments help launch new social ventures, providing a solid foundation for growth.
  • Scaling Up: As social enterprises expand their reach and impact, additional funding helps them grow and maximize their positive influence.
  • Driving Innovation: Investments encourage the development of creative solutions for social and environmental challenges.
  • Building Strong Teams: Adequate funding allows social enterprises to attract skilled individuals and build effective teams.
  • Building Trust: Investments demonstrate credibility for social ventures, attracting further support and resources.

However, traditional lenders may be hesitant to invest in social enterprises due to their focus on social impact alongside financial success. 

This funding gap is being addressed by a rise in impact investors who provide capital to ventures aligned with their social goals.

Investment and funding are crucial for social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurs can make a positive impact on the world by securing adequate resources.

Building a Sustainable Future Together with Startup Ecosystem Canada (SEC)

Social enterprises are leading the charge towards a sustainable future. However, creating positive change requires a collective effort. Here’s how we can be your launchpad:

  • Unite for Impact: Connect with social enterprises and potential partners on the SEC platform. Collaborate to amplify your impact and access vital resources.
  • Scale Your Vision: Gain access to a network of committed investors through our platform. Secure the funding you need to turn your sustainability goals into reality.
  • Be the Change: Every action counts. Join the movement and play a crucial role in building a better tomorrow.

Ready to make a difference? Sign in to SEC today!  Explore partnership opportunities, connect with investors, and unlock your potential to create a lasting positive impact.  Let’s build a more sustainable future!