Meet Another Innoweave Social Enterprise Grantee – and Learn How Innoweave Can Help With YOUR Great Idea!

June 11, 2014

Innoweave provides small grants to help organizations access coaching to implement a new approach. If your organization has attended an Innoweave workshop, you can apply for a grant between now and July 2nd! Click here to learn more.

Innoweave is pleased to introduce you to some of our latest Social Enterprise Grant recipients, and highlight the exciting ventures they’re embarking on! This is the latest in a series of blogs profiling Innoweave grantees. Click here to read the profile of another Social Enterprise grant recipient, Lake Ontario Waterkeeper!

Canadian Hearing Society

Attending an Innoweave Social Enterprise workshop in Toronto gave the Canadian Hearing Society (CHS) the confidence and clarity they needed to advance their emerging social enterprise idea. CHS is a non-profit health care and social service organization that provides  services, products, and information. Its goal is to help remove barriers to communication, advance hearing health, and promote equity for people who are culturally Deaf, oral deaf, deafened and hard of hearing. Following a major policy change in Ontario, they saw an opportunity to use their internal skills and expertise to both advance their mission and generate revenue by developing a social enterprise.

“Like most not-for-profit organizations CHS has limited resources and capacity to focus on growth to expand our services”, says Christopher Sutton, Manager, Institutional Development at the CHS. “Over the last few years our funding has remained flat, yet we have seen an increased demand for our services and costs have risen. At the same time there have been advancements in technology and legislation that enable people with disabilities to be fully engaged in society which has created a new market and demand for services from us.”

The introduction of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) presented an opportunity for CHS. They decided to launch Accessibility Solutions, a social enterprise that provides a wide range of communication services to government, businesses and individuals in order to break down communication barriers for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing.

Accessibility Solutions fills a current gap in the marketplace. Each time its services are used, CHS directly improves outcomes and advances its mission.

CHS has 74 years of experience running various programs and services across 28 offices in Ontario, with its 450 employees. This gave them a unique network and perspective that positioned them to help the private sector adapt to new regulations and remove barriers for people who are culturally Deaf or hard of hearing.

However, to become launch ready, the team determined they would need some outside support.

Leveraging Organizational Expertise for a New Opportunity

“When the opportunity for members of our senior management team to participate in a one-day workshop hosted by Innoweave, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Capacity Builders was presented, CHS was very excited”, says Sutton.  “Together as a team we were able to have many of our questions answered and participate in some intense organizational assessments to determine our readiness and if social enterprise was the space we wanted to enter.”

“The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation and Innoweave have enabled CHS to engage in conversation and think differently about how we operate and provide business as a not-for-profit organization. CHS is excited to be able to develop a social enterprise that will create cultural and social impacts that break down barriers for people who are culturally Deaf and hard of hearing.”

Since attending a full day Innoweave Social Enterprise Workshop and developing a coaching strategy, CHS has now been awarded an Innoweave Social Enterprise Implementation Grant. They will be working with Ryan Turnbull of Eco-Ethonomics to develop a business plan and launch their social enterprise.

Got a Great Idea? Access Innoweave’s Webinars, Workshops, Coaches and Grants!

If you’ve attended an Innoweave workshop and have identified the next steps needed to get your social enterprise launch ready, you can connect with one of Innoweave’s Social Enterprise coaches.

Organizations can apply for funding to hire a coach. Applications are open until July 2nd for organizations that have attended a Social Enterprise Workshop. Learn more about Innoweave’s grants here.