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Social Enterprise: Non-profits in the 21st Century

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  • Social Enterprise: Non-profits in the 21st Century

    How do we make Edmonton’s non-profits healthier, more resilient, and dynamic? Social enterprise which combines the best of the business world (healthy balance sheets, focus, and innovation), with non-profit ideals (service, human development, and community building) is one exciting approach!

    Social enterprises blend social intent with for-profit business principles. Success is determined by measuring both financial and social results. Social enterprises require a paradigm shift in thinking for many traditional not-for-profit organizations. Successful ventures have shifted their emphasis from fundraising to business planning, from a focus on programs to a focus on enterprise, from an annual cycle of grant applications to securing a sustainable and diversified revenue base. These shifts move the social enterprise from financial dependency toward sustainability while delivering quantifiable social outcomes.

    Edmonton is home to several social enterprises. Some are mission based, where a social outcome is achieved through business practices (for example the skills training of at-risk youth at Kids in the Hall in Edmonton’s City Hall), others are revenue based where a business is used to generate revenue or diversify funding for a non-profit organization (like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore which covers all of the organization’s admin costs).

    The Social Enterprise Fund

    The Social Enterprise Fund (SEF), a new made-in-Edmonton initiative, provides the city’s non-profit sector with flexible financing, business expertise, and more. The aim of the SEF is to empower non-profits who want to create or expand sustainable social enterprises.

    The SEF plans to be an $11 million dollar fund with $21 million in loans in the next five years. Major funding comes from the Edmonton Community Foundation, the City of Edmonton, and the United Way of Alberta Capital Region. The SEF opened its doors in February 2008 after several years of preparatory work.

    The SEF offers a set of services for each stage of the social enterprise development path. Services range from:
    • Providing flexible financing that fit social enterprise. (Loans of up to $500,000). The SEF’s customized loan packages for social enterprises feature: flexible terms, timely turn around, near prime interest rates and an understanding of social missions. The SEF tolerates more risk than other lenders. This risk tolerance demands that the SEF be more actively engaged with its clients than conventional lenders typically are. The SEF’s unique strength lies in the blending of flexible financing with rigorous assessment and conventional security practice. The SEF expects its loans to be repaid. (The repayment of loans is integral to the SEF itself becoming sustainable).
    • Conducting seminars, the SEF offers several two-hour seminars on the process of developing and managing a social enterprise. Topics include: Introduction to Social Enterprise, Getting Ready for the Enterprise Culture, Preparing a Business Plan, Legal and Financing Aspects of a Social Enterprise.
    • Connecting non-profits to business mentors, professionals, and financial resources, as well as providing relevant and tailored SE business advice. The SEF will work with Boards and management teams to ensure your organization is ready for social enterprise, select an appropriate business idea, and help non-profits prepare and implement their business plan.

    The SEF is a growing organization, looking to work with interested non-profits, members of the business world, and the community at large. For more information please visit the website or email [email protected].

    Omar Yaqub, MBA BSc
    Director of Operations,
    Social Enterprise Fund
    Last edited by NoreneS; 14-10-2008, 09:15 AM.

  • #2
    ^ Thank you for such a great article.

    And the wonderful efforts towards a cause near and dear to my heart.