learn more about the niagara falls ryerson innovation hub
February 22, 2021
Social Enterprises: A New Way of Doing Business

This is the second in a series of three on social enterprises.

For entrepreneurs looking to start a business or founders looking to pivot their companies, creating a social enterprise has become an increasingly attractive endeavour. While tackling social and environmental problems used to be a task relegated to the non-profit and public sectors, entrepreneurs in the for-profit sector are now realizing businesses can give back to their communities while also being profitable in the long-run. A 2016 survey of social enterprises by Social Change Central found that 81% describe themselves as having a social purpose, 45% operate to achieve a cultural purpose, 26% work towards employment development, and 27% focus on the environment.

Social enterprises are attractive to entrepreneurs and social change agents alike because they allow an organization to derive considerable profit while also making meaningful impacts on the issues that matter. Social enterprises also offer a viable alternative to non-profits and charities because social enterprises are revenue self-sustaining and consequently do not rely solely on grants or donations. Social enterprises are also subject to less government regulation since they are essentially businesses with a core social purpose. From a business development perspective, centering your business on social impact allows

  1. You to make a difference in an area that matters to you
  2. Your employees to grow as a team as they rally together for a common cause
  3. Engagement with your existing clients and stakeholders while attracting new clients and stakeholders who also wish to make an impact.

Social enterprises take many different shapes and forms. For example, many social enterprises have a for-profit and a non-profit component that operate symbiotically and embody the same brand. A business may sell a product or provide a service and then reinvest some of this revenue into community-oriented or philanthropic initiatives. One of our members at Spark even does this!

This social enterprise does fee-for-service work for its clients and then reinvests these revenues into programming and initiatives benefitting the wider community. This social enterprise model allows for profit generation and philanthropy to work in tandem in our community.

To get this innovative social enterprise off the ground, its founders had some help from Spark Niagara. When asked about what advice they would give to budding social entrepreneurs, their co-founders stated:

“All you need is a vision and commitment to do the work. Set goals and do your research on what’s out there. Research what is lacking and what could be worked on.  We consulted with the community to gauge interest and needs. From there, Spark and other stakeholders began to invest in our mission.”

If you have a social cause you care about and an idea for a social enterprise, Spark Niagara can help your vision become a reality. We are home to many social entrepreneurs and have all the right tools and expertise to help!

Frequently asked questions
What does my membership get me?

Our memberships are all-inclusive pricing which means W.I.F.I, Utilities, Janitorial service, coffee and many other amenities are included. They start at 3 months! Memberships also offer business services including business coaching, perks and discounts, access to Spark’s Member Portal, events and workshops, and much more!

How long can I have a membership for?

Unlike many other incubators, Spark is here for you in the long run. You're welcome to participate in our entrepreneurial community as long as you'd like.

How is Spark connected to Ryerson University?

We work with Ryerson University and the City of Niagara Falls on the Niagara Falls Ryerson Innovation Hub. This initiative is for tech-based startups in or looking to move to Niagara Falls, Canada to grow and scale their business.

Will Spark invest in my company?

We are happy to help provide guidance on the necessary steps towards receiving external investments. That being said, we will not invest in your business nor are we affiliated as partners in your business.

I am a part of another incubator, can I still join Spark?

Spark stands by the mission of building our future with collective impact. We accept entrepreneurs whether they are affiliated with another incubator or not. We aspire to bring together the best talent in Niagara regardless of background.

Do you have a free trial?

We offer a free 7 day trial for serious applicants only.

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