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Social Enterprise

Enhance your mission by selling a product or service


How can we achieve and sustain impact with different revenue models?

This coaching stream helps organizations explore ideas for how they can further their social impact goals and generate revenue through an enterprise model. The focus is on helping established social-purpose organizations identify business opportunities, assess viability, and plan for launch.

Social Enterprise 101

A social enterprise:

  • Is an ongoing organization or venture
  • Is created with the primary goal of achieving an environmental, social and/or cultural mission
  • Uses earned income strategies by selling products and/or services in its operation.

Main types of social enterprises

Social enterprises are often launched for one or more of the following three reasons:

  • Employment-based: to meet an employment need in the community that is not being met through traditional business models. For example, Eva’s Phoenix Printing in Toronto trains at-risk youth in the printing business, preparing them to leave the streets and enter the labour market.
  • Mission-based: to advance or achieve a specific environmental, social, and/or cultural mission. For example, Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society operates an accredited university-level academic program that brings students to their community to learn about local First Nations culture and arts, as well as the unique biology in the local environment. In addition to student learning, there is an important local economic impact for the remote region of Haida Gwaii.
  • Profit-based: to contribute to the financial sustainability of a community organization. For example, the Prince George Aboriginal Friendship Centre rents out the extra space in the building they own. The income from rent covers the mortgage payment and their program administrative costs.

The Innoweave self-assessment tool is designed to help you determine your organization's readiness and whether your initiative or program model is well suited for Social Enterprise.


This assessment has 5 questions.

Please respond to each of the questions to the best of your ability by choosing the option that most accurately reflects your organizational context.

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Does your organization have a clear and shared definition of the impact it seeks to achieve and how your work generates this impact?
Is your organization open to risk and able to manage it effectively?
Does your staff and board of directors have the business experience and skills to plan and operate a social enterprise?
Do you have an idea for a social enterprise that fits with your organization’s mission and values?
Are you able to raise the funds and commit the resources needed to launch and operate a social enterprise?

Info Session

For groups interested in Innoweave’s Social Enterprise stream, we encourage you to review our Social Enterprise Info Session:

Watch a recording
Download the slides


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Relevant Resources

Additional Resources


Innoweave offers coaching support to organizations that are well positioned to implement a Social Enterprise approach. You can connect with an Innoweave coach to help you explore and implement your initiative. Then apply to Innoweave for funds to support that coaching engagement.

Cédric Jamet
Paul Taylor Innoweave coach headshot
Laurie Cook
Hugh Maynard
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Apply for support

Your organization is eligible to apply for Innoweave coaching support if you have submitted an Expression of Interest and it has been approved.

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These are our most frequently asked questions.

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What types of social enterprises does Innoweave support?

Innoweave focuses on supporting social enterprise ideas being launched by established nonprofits and charities. In rare cases, we may support stand-alone social enterprises at the start-up phase.

Will Innoweave invest in my social enterprise?

No, Innoweave does not provide investments or loans to projects. Innoweave support is strictly for coaching.

What social impact does the social enterprise have to generate for Innoweave to support it?

Innoweave is happy to support models that generate positive impact across almost all domains in Canada. We do not, however, support projects where the primary beneficiaries are outside of Canada (e.g., international development projects).