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Social Enterprise World Forum 2009 Report Back
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Social Enterprise World Forum 2009 Report Back

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After a successful trip down under, Geraldine Cahill from SiG@MaRS and Ethel Cote from Canadian Centre for Community Renewal report back to an audience at the MaRS Discovery District.

After a successful trip down under, Geraldine Cahill from SiG@MaRS and Ethel Cote from Canadian Centre for Community Renewal report back to an audience at the MaRS Discovery District.

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  • But let me start with overall impressions….
  • Social Ventures Australia operates very similarly to SiG@MaRS, although they have a financing wing. They do business mentoring, advisory services etc. They have raised $26million over the last 7 years for social enterprises in their portfolio. This money comes from philanthropic organizations and high net worth individuals. They may have 10-12 enterprises in their portfolio at one time, and support them for anywhere between 3-5 years. As their Executive Director, Jan Owen put it, “In that time we really hope to accelerate the growth of those enterprises. Very similar language to us.
  • The organizers of the forum very much wanted to focus attention on the development of social enterprise in indigenous communities. Many examples were cited, the most exciting and dynamic I think was the Goolarri Media Enterprise. The Forum also named 2 indigenous ambassadors for the Forum to represent Australia internationally. We began the Forum with a smoking ceremony to bless the land on which we convened. When I spoke to Jan Owen, she said that Australia and Canada have similar histories when it comes to its treatment of indigenous people and in many respects they are still facing more obstacles to employment and healthy living standards today.
  • I have already written a blog touching on this subject, but it was the subject of much discussion during the Forum. There was a panel presentation called “Size does matter” where they spoke about how localised and micro social enterprises can achieve significant outcomes. Is small beautiful or a sign of failure? Basically some feel that enterprises do a great job at helping at the local level. Others feel we should concentrate on efforts on making big scale change. (Refer Ander Kuper – Leapfrog)
  • There was an interesting session held on both days featuring successful or not-so-successful enterprises. The entrepreneurs were interviewed about the lessons they learned along the way to provide lessons and advice to the attendees. Grasslands Food Coop that I knew in Melbourne was fun. He said that he learnt everything about how not to run a business. But it put him in a good place down the road, and Grasslands survived. Another interesting one for me was the enterprise begun by Marie So – Shokay.
  • They decided they would try and start a textile business that would support the local community. Their market research revealed that their was no competition for yak hair – yet the quality is excellent. Their main concern was to get community buy-in and they have it. They use the cash generated for school and food. So far this enterprise has increased the income level of the community 65%. Just a point of comparison, wool sells for US$1 per kg, cashmere sells for US$40 per kg, yak sells at this time for between US$25-30 per kg.
  • This is Marie So – her motivation: “The business must work. You must achieve your financial targets otherwise the social side falls down.”
  • It’s a fairly boring word to describe something that is very important and was another source of much conversation at the Forum. The panel on procurement featured stories from Gerry Higgins from Community Enterprise in Scotland, who has years of experience in Social Enterprise and was instrumental in starting the Social Enterprise World Forum last year.
  • CEiS been working on the Scottish government for 10 years to get community benefit clauses into procurement contracts. Their big breakthrough came with the announcement of the Commonwealth Games in 2014. For CEiS the Games meant 4 years of construction and 800M pounds of contracts. Some lessons: refer to notes
  • Alot of the groundwork for the approach to government for the procuring of Commonwealth Games projects came from Canada – and the work done by David LePage from enterprising non-profits and their partners. Gerry was quick to acknowledge the lessons Scotland had learned from Canada and the development of community benefits clauses in the Vancouver Games contracts.
  • SiG@MaRS, in partnership with Mass LBP and the Trillium Foundation are currently doing a feasibility study on a School for Social Entrepreneurs. Is Ontario ready or right for it? Sydney, Australia was the first country outside the UK to open an SSE franchise so I spoke to the staff there about how they are faring. These were the main takeaways.
  • Based on the highly successful SSE in the UK which has been operating for 10 years, SSE Australia began running year-long programs to support entrepreneurial individuals to establish effective, sustainable community projects and initiatives that meet social and community needs. They are not quite through a year of operation, but are already scaling up – starting a new school in Melbourne in 2010.
  • The big questions are: do we already do a lot of what the SSE can achieve? Do you maintain a quota to ensure entrepreneurs from vulnerable communities have access, or is it the project that should determine the entrant? The feasibility study for Ontario will be completed in November.
  • Very modest
  • Discuss characteristics of Philanthropy in New Zealand – trusts have all the big money - $5BDiscuss failed social entrepreneurship support from government in the 90’sDiscuss success in housing foundation project
  • Definitely an ally – friend.Australia – 20 million, Canada 30 million, New Zealand 4 million – still the same barriers to scaleLack of access to capital, outmoded and complicated charitable status process – however New Zealand also needs some government champions in the space or even good lobbyists.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Social Enterprise World Forum Melbourne, 2009
      De-brief presented by:
      Ethel Côté, Canadian Centre for Community Renewal
      Geraldine Cahill, SiG@MaRS
    • 2. What was on the agenda…for me?
      ?
    • 3. Synergies and differentiation between countries
      Inspirational new social enterprise stories
      Lessons to bring back to Canada
      Progress on the School for social entrepreneurs
      Developments in social finance models in Australia and New Zealand
    • 4. Our hosts
      Social Ventures Australia works with innovative non-profit organizations to increase their growth and impact to drive transformational social change.
      Social Traders’ purpose is to encourage and support the development of social enterprises in Australia. The organization was established in late 2008 and is the result of a unique collaboration between the Victorian State Government, a private foundation and community sector organizations with extensive experience in social enterprise development.
    • 5. Strong focus on indigenous enterprises during the Forum
    • 6. Size
      does
      matter
    • 7. 2002 - Petrol Station Closing in one week
      • Seven locals get together and establish YCDCo Pty Ltd with $1,000 of shares each
      • 8. Indigo Shire contribute half of trading losses
      • 9. Essential to keep continuity of service
      • 10. Develop a ‘cunning plan’
    • Stories from the front line
    • 11. 9
    • 12.
    • 13. Why do you do what you do
      11
    • 14. Procurement
    • 15. Goal of CEiS in procurement: get community benefit clauses into government contracts
      Know the legal framework – every country has different rules about access to tendering
      Community benefit does not have to be financial
      Be realistic about what you can deliver
      For big contracts look to establish a consortium of social enterprises
    • 16. Canadian best practice
    • 17. School for social entrepreneurs
    • 18. Major capital injection in development phase
      Government money tied to program outcomes
      Focus is to attract people from disadvantaged backgrounds
      Urban vs Rural
      Scaling up quickly – why?
    • 19.
    • 20. New Zealand: our home away from home
    • 21. Social finance
      “We muddle and bubble with things here”
      Trevor Gray, Tindall Foundation, Auckland
    • 22. Funding complexity
      Huge capital losses due to recession
      Lack of independence
      Social entrepreneurship’s rocky history
      Some success stories
      Social innovation vital
    • 23. Canada an ally
    • 24. Thanks!
      Geraldine Cahill
      Communications Coordinator, SIG@MaRS
      gcahill@marsdd.com

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