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Posted: June 4, 2016

Social enterprises making a difference

Letter to the Editor

As we wrapped up Social Enterprise Month in B.C, it was clear that British Columbians are using their entrepreneurial skills and purchasing dollars to make a positive impact in B.C. communities every month of the year.

Resources like HubcapBC.ca, B.C.’s online hub for social innovation, and Buy Social Canada’s social enterprise directory show us that businesses that turn profits into solutions for communities are filling needs of every kind – manufacturing, retail, home repairs, couriers, restaurants, caterers, cleaners, builders, recyclers and more.

For example, a meal from Smokehouse Kitchen in Prince George supports employment training to help people re-enter the workforce. Gifts from Common Thread in Vancouver provide skills training for new immigrants. Victoria’s TOPSOIL increases food security by transforming vacant urban land into garden plots. Pathways Bike Shop in Kelowna channels its profits into programs for people with disabilities.

Businesses like these are growing and thriving. The social enterprise sector boasts over $500 million in annual earnings and employs over 13,000 people according to new research released this month by UBC in partnership with the province. Growth in the sector is expected to continue – over half the social entrepreneurs surveyed expect to increase their employees by an average of 23% over the next five years.

Many social enterprises are small businesses. Sometimes they’re referred to as small companies with big hearts. They creatively apply their business knowledge to social issues, improving the lives of British Columbians and generating local economic activity. This is important work and that’s why it is a priority for our government to support small businesses by reducing red tape, through programs like BizPaL and the Mobile Business Licence Program.

Social impact purchasing is a new phrase, but it’s not a new concept.

People have been supporting socially-minded businesses for years and we see more and more organizations – including the Government of B.C. – using this type of purchasing to multiply the impact of the money they spend.

We all consider value for money when we make purchases. Thanks to B.C.’s growing social enterprise sector, we can also factor in the social and environmental value of what we buy.

Use your purchasing dollars to make a positive impact in B.C. communities – today and every day.

Michelle Stilwell,

Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation and

Coralee Oakes,

Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction

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