SECC has developed and adopted six ‘pillars’ as the foundational components of a supportive ecosystem.
- Enhance Enterprise Skills
Blending business operations with social outcomes in social enterprises requires a particular set of governance and management skills not common in the traditional separation of for-profit business skills and non-profit service skills. This emerging business model presents a challenge to the non-profit sector as it ventures into the business arena and to experienced business managers as they integrate social values in everyday operations. This gap in skills and experience requires the creation and funding for the appropriate and on-going learning opportunities for individuals and organizations along the entire social enterprise development path, from early learning through business planning and into operations.
- Ensure Access to Capital and Investment
All businesses require access to financial capital; especially investment and patient capital at start up and points of growth in the business. Social enterprises, by the nature of their predominantly non-share incorporation, have limited options beyond traditional grant models and straight forward loan arrangements. Grant income is not sustainable in the long term and loans are a cash flow problem and often an expensive avenue to raise capital at a start-up or growth stage. New forms of patient, investment-like, capital pools have to be developed, investor tax credits for social enterprise are needed and innovative share-based social enterprise incorporation models are required.
- Expand Market Opportunities
Every purchase has a ripple effect and multiplier impacts, whether unintentional or intentional. Intentional purchasing with a social objective can insure the greatest impact opportunities for social enterprise. The procurement policies and the purchasing practices of the three levels of government, non-profit organizations and the private sector need to maximize their buying from social enterprises. This requires marketing schemes, purchaser and supplier matching, and appropriate incentives to encourage participation in a changing supply chain management model. The options to practice social purchasing include practices like targeted purchases, unbundling, supportive RFP criteria, and Community Benefit Amendments.
- Promote and Demonstrate the Value of Social Enterprise
There are many anecdotal stories about the success and impact of social enterprise across Canada. We need to continue to measure and share the significant contribution that social enterprise does make in our communities. This effort requires appropriate research projects and measurement tools to assess the impact. And as importantly is effectively ‘telling the social enterprise story’ through a strong communications strategy.
- Regulatory Framework
The actions, decisions, and policies of all three levels of government have significant impacts on social enterprises in Canada. So beyond the markets, the financing, and the skills to create, grow, and sustain strong social enterprises, there legislative and regulatory framework within which social enterprise works greatly shapes their ability to succeed.
- Networks and Community Engagement
Building the strength of the social enterprise sector, and increasing it’s ability to impact local communities, requires enhancing social capital and creating the opportunities for sharing learning, designs, and models. A multitude of engagement options must be created and sustained to facilitate engagement and exchanges that target peer-to-peer, government and private sector relationships.