In early March, SECC was delighted to work with Canadian partners to welcome to Canada Ms. Yvonne Strachan, Director of the Scottish Government Third Sector, Mr. Gerry Higgins, CEO of Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEiS) and Juliet Cornford, an international social enterprise advisor for the British Council. These visiting social enterprise experts traveled to Halifax, Ottawa, and Toronto to build social enterprise profile, share practical and political experiences, engage in dialogue with Canadian policy makers, and offer their own stories of both success and failure.
Last fall the Social Enterprise Council of Canada pledged to make a special effort to support two of our key goals : supporting networks and learning opportunities and creating a supportive public policy environment.
Reflecting on where we might find the best examples and sources of information to help with that effort we looked to our social enterprise colleagues in Scotland. Scotland has for many years been a leader in establishing a supportive environment for social enterprises. In fact, it was at the very first Social Enterprise World Forum in Scotland (2008), when John Swinney, a Scottish Government Member of their Cabinet, spoke passionately on the social and economic value social enterprises brought to their communities. The Scottish Government and third sector leaders continue to work together to help and support social enterprises to flourish. SECC felt that this model would be worth sharing with Canadian policy makers and social enterprise intermediaries.
In less than a week our international colleagues Yvonne, Juliette and Gerry engaged in significant knowledge sharing events:
- Lunch with 6 Nova Scotia Deputy Ministers;
- meetings with the Nova Scotia Social Enterprise Network partners;
- a full day in Ottawa with over 30 federal government public servants from more than 10 ministries and departments;
- a plenary and panel at the Toronto Social Enterprise Conference;
- meetings with the City of Toronto;
- a cross-ministry meeting hosted by the Ontario Government Social Enterprise group;
- the Toronto Area Community Benefit Working Group; and
- several other meetings and social enterprise tours.
During the meetings, several key themes emerged, including how to best support social procurement, how to engage and continue to learn from global partners, how to promote consumer awareness of social purchasing, and how to continue to develop Canadian strategies to build and reinforce strategies and mechanisms to support social enterprise growth and development.
The SECC thanks Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), the British Council in Canada, the Government of Nova Scotia, and the Social Purchasing Program in Toronto for contributing to the costs, logistics, and content to make this trip such a success.
Blog written by David LePage with contributions from Jonathan Wade