Since I have been self-employed, I have been grateful for the ‘giving back’ opportunities provided to me as an entrepreneur. I have the freedom to work in capacities that match my own personal values, something that I was not always able to do when I worked for someone else. I can bring positive changes to my community and beyond while earning a good living.
Earlier in my career as a contractor, I had come across some interesting terminology: corporate social responsibility “….defined as the voluntary activities undertaken by a company to operate in an economic, social and environmentally sustainable manner (http://www.international.gc.ca/).” This sounded very inspiring and uplifting to me. The verbiage was new to me however the practices were not. I had already been doing this on a small scale through my consulting firm and my volunteer work as a Lodgekeeper, illustrating that businesses and corporations do not need to only be about money.
“…. CSR helps make Canadian business more competitive by supporting operational efficiency gains; improved risk management; favourable relations with the investment community and improved access to capital; enhanced employee relations; stronger relationships with communities and an enhanced licence to operate; and improved reputation and branding (https://www.ic.gc.ca/).” One of the International CSR standards that I am more familiar with is Global Reporting Initiative of which I received some training about four years ago (https://www.globalreporting.org/).
I am a verifier with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, that promotes Progressive Aboriginal Relations and recognizes improved Aboriginal relations among Canadian companies. “Canada is experiencing a new social and political environment as it pertains to Aboriginal peoples. Aboriginal issues are top of mind for the Canadian public, more than any other time in history. In light of this new social reality, more and more Canadian businesses are becoming interested in the opportunities of working with Aboriginal peoples. The exponential growth of Aboriginal entrepreneurialism reveals a sophisticated and ambitious businessperson that is looking to partner, collaborate and succeed. Couple this with the groundswell of international support for Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability, and it is easy to see the future is bright for Aboriginal business (https://www.ccab.com/about).”
This work ethic expanded to where I am now, spearheading a social enterprise. “A social enterprise applies an entrepreneurial approach to addressing social or environmental issues and creating positive community change. It is a revenue-generating business with primarily social objectives…. (http://paro.ca/2013/paro-services/social-enterprises-northern-ontario-seno/).”
The social enterprise that I am referring to is the Blue Sky Community Healing Centre. The Enterprise, the Income Mechanism is the Indigenous Worldview Training entitled One Tribe which comes with a fee for the beneficiaries that supports the Social Mission which is the All My Relations Holistic Programming supporting self-healing and self-discovery through various holistic/cultural programming provided free of charge to the target groups identified. Blue Sky’s enthusiasm and inspirational work is contagious and has a ripple effect on the community fostering a vital contribution to social change. “With a renewed excitement for life, individuals discover new hope for the future and become empowered to take better care of themselves as whole people, rather than feeling like society’s forgotten. Often times, those individuals will turn around and ask what THEY can do for the community, which multiplies the effect” says, Cynthia Nault, Communications Director.
Here are some examples of some successful social enterprise frameworks (sourced from http://www.thesedge.org/whats-new/22-awesome-social-enterprise-business-ideas):
- Cross-Compensation – One group of customers pays for the service. Profits from this group are used to subsidize the service for another, underserved group (like Blue Sky).
- Fee for Service – Beneficiaries pay directly for the good or services provided by the social enterprise.
- Employment and skills training – The core purpose is to provide living wages, skills development, and job training to the beneficiaries: the employees.
- Market Intermediary – The social enterprise acts as an intermediary, or distributor, to an expanded market. The beneficiaries are the suppliers of the product and/or service that is being distributed to an international market.
- Market Connector – The social enterprise facilitates trade relationships between beneficiaries and new markets.
- Independent Support – The social enterprise delivers a product or service to an external market that is separate from the beneficiary and social impact generated. Funds are used to support social programs to the beneficiary.
- Cooperative – A for profit or nonprofit business that is owned by its members who also use its services, providing virtually any type of goods or services.
Improving a social situation can also improve your financial bottom line: “I think consumers are driving the need for social enterprise and also better, more meaningful CSR. The rise in consumers choosing to buy from the businesses they deem more ethical, or worthwhile, or simply matching their own values demonstrates that (http://www.theguardian.com/social-enterprise-network/).” In summary, it is important how your business model helps you to achieve your social goals.