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Social Entrepreneurship Analysis

Introduction

Social entrepreneurship is an activity that is aimed at solving or smoothing out social problems. During the course, we learned that social entrepreneurs are businessmen who work at the intersection of charity and traditional business, addressing social issues, promoting charity and philanthropy, and giving the company a human face. Social entrepreneurs improve the world by inventing and spreading new approaches to solve social problems, using both traditional business practices and innovations, creating new forms of business, or unconventionally adapting conventional business approaches to social issues. This paper will discuss the area of work of several experts that promote and support social enterprises, their experience in the field, and reflective thoughts on their journey.

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The first expert was Sunder Singh, an Executive Director of Elspeth Heyworth Centre for Women (how). The EHCW is a charitable organization in Toronto that helps immigrant and newcomer women to socialize and find their way, promoting healthy family and community relationships and economic independence. It was an insightful process to understand how Sunder went from the researching topic of social enterprises to establishing the social organization and finding business people to collaborate with despite resistance. The empowerment and support principles that Sunder provides to women were inspiring and promising.

One learning outcome that I can say was the most essential from the speech of the expert was saving financial revenues in case of unpredicted events, which helped the EHCW a lot during the COVID-19 outbreak without substantial government support. While many companies, social enterprises, and businesses have struggled to find resources to support the business, those who had cash reserves felt better, which highlights the need to plan long-term. I believe that the Community Economic Development network that the EHCW contributed to was based on “thinking locally” and cherishing customers and entrepreneurs’ desire to support the local community of women during hard times and buying from them. It would also be interesting to know how exactly the organization was pitching the social enterprise opportunity to business people. This is crucial because not all people have sales skills even then they have exciting ideas.

The second expert was Jane Wilson, a manager of Capacity Building with Toronto Community Benefits Network. Jane is in charge of initiatives and resources that promote regular and open admission for community members to job positions and apprenticeships on local projects in the field of construction. The Toronto Community Benefits Network aims to build labor opportunities for those diverse members of the community that require learning and support. It was impressive to listen to a person who is dedicated to giving consultations and speeches on women’s equality and integration into the business. The support of women is in line with enabling factors that are needed in trade business, such as individual, interpersonal and organizational, that are advocated in the report by Downie et al. (2017).

I noticed several crucial points that helped Jane and other members of the organization to build its presence and gain credibility. First is open communication and decision-making based on the diversity of ideas and opinions when all team members are involved in the conversation and are willing to come up with a unified solution. The second is that Community Economic Development (CED) and compliance with Community Benefits Agreement give substantial results not only for the social part of the society but also for economic, environmental, and other spheres. While listening to the presentation, I wondered if construction was the only field where such community-based work can be copied and implemented. It would be great to have a minimal action plan structure to spread it across the world so that other organizations and social entrepreneurs can use it.

Paul Chamberlain, an expert, and a manager from the Toronto Enterprise Fund (TEF), has presented information on employment social enterprises (ESEs). TEF sponsors employment social enterprises that hire people who have significant problems in finding job positions due to a lack of training and necessary skills. At first, it was hard to acquire information on the Toronto Enterprise Fund’s activities because I did not get the full concept of employment social enterprises and their unique value differentiating them from ordinary social enterprises. After the presentation, I checked links and understood better that ESEs provides training for people who continuously have issues to enter the labor market and get job opportunities, including those who are newcomers, have disabilities, or have previous criminal records. Paul provided a comprehensive overview of ESEs and how the Toronto Enterprise Fund supports them.

The most exciting part for me was finding out how TEF specifically helps organizations in three steps, catalyzing, sustaining, and scaling activities, which can be introduced to any institution in different forms. Advisory support, for instance, could be helpful for various businesses moving towards the creation of social value. I also found out that I was mainly waiting for speakers to present data on social enterprises’ evaluation and their implications. In the article that I read during the course, analysts stated that social enterprise structures sometimes provide little information on their activities and how their work influences stakeholders (Elson & Hall, 2012). Thus, it was particularly crucial to see quantifiable results of the ESEs, which Paul provided, such as an increase in income, a 6% reduction in participants who were considered to have a mental illness, the number of those who switched to permanent housing at 87%. I believe that results should be presented first to interested parties and stakeholders to convince them to participate in social programs.

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Among the experts was also Peter Frampton, an executive director of the Learning Enrichment Foundation. This organization aims to provide programs and services that enhance opportunities for families and individuals who seek social and economic development and integration into the community. I found it useful to acquire information about the Learning Enrichment Foundation because it serves various community stakeholders, from children to businesses, locating its hub in one of Toronto’s most depressing parts. The work of the non-profit organization overviewed by the executive director of the LEF highlighted the idea that such institutions should tie their operations to the demands of people who might be recruited but need help in training skills.

The diversity and innovation that was emphasized by Peter and the work of the Board of Directors are essential for such organizations, from my point of view. Representatives of the Board have the experience, leadership, and diversity of opinions that help the institution restore the community and include its members in society and the labor market. It would also be great to know how the Foundation prioritizes activities and projects that should be implemented first and the evaluation criteria for the introduction of such programs.

Supported the topic of diversity Ginelle Skerritt, an Executive Director at Warden Woods Community Centre, Scarborough. Warden Woods provides initiatives and services for clients from the closest and several satellite locations. Among the organization’s services are a supportive housing program, a new school services & child drop-in program, after-school & family support initiatives. The information and stories that Ginelle presented on the development of the Centre gave a profound idea of how non-profit organizations can create various programs to support the local community and fight poverty and discrimination-related policies. It felt like Warden Woods managed to establish a place with comprehensive solutions for people of different ages, incomes, and necessities. While aiming to help the core audiences of youth, women, families, and retired people, the organization brings together diverse people who can overcome difficulties with programs in different languages.

According to analysts, the approach that the Warden Woods Community Centre has towards combining diverse community members is a great way to challenge existing hierarchies (Mirchandan, 2002). It is stated in the research that the combination of gender, race, and employment forms, when for instance, a black woman is self-employed and works successfully, erupt existing labor market structures that tend to be discriminative (Mirchandan, 2002). Thus, the work of Ginette helps not only for the development of people and community but also gives other spheres a signal of changes and evolvement of inclusive conditions.

Rusul Alrubail, the Founder & Executive Director of Parkdale Centre, gave a speech on the social innovation and the activities of the organization that supports entrepreneurs. Parkdale Centre supports several programs that help business people build capacity and grow their startups at early and more mature stages and want to pursue a career in journalism and create podcasts. I was personally impressed by the path of Rusul that went from rejections from teaching jobs to starting her website and business. What was especially valuable in the speech of the expert is her experience that helped Rusul to launch Parkdale Centre because she went through the same problems with establishing her business and image as a writer and speaker.

The social innovation that Rusul was talking about is different from social entrepreneurship that other experts have presented in a way that innovation initiates changes in society without the help of established businesses that serve clients. I understood that social innovation does not necessarily stem from social enterprises but can grow from various initiatives of people and their collaboration with partners. I believe what differentiates Parkdale Centre is a collaboration with big corporations that do not want to bring specific social policy changes internally but are willing to help startups and innovation to grow externally. Finally, an essential learning outcome from the speech of Rusul is the necessity to support a diverse and inclusive innovation ecosystem that focuses on entrepreneurs who have a race, gender, or income barriers when it comes to finding resources that help people to focus on creative ideas and solutions.

Conclusion

To conclude, it can be stated that the series of experts’ speeches coming from different backgrounds and social organizations of Toronto provided a comprehensive overview of the social entrepreneurship, innovation, and non-profit organizations’ work. In my opinion, the presentation of Paul Chamberlain provided a structured description of the social organization, its activities, and the impact that programs have on society and participants. There were several learning outcomes that I believe are essential for social and non-profit institutions, such as the necessity to bring inclusivity and diversity to work and the preparation of pitches to convince and attract sponsors. Information on how to launch and develop a social institution can help not only in non-profit organizations but also in businesses that aim to generate financial value.

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References

Downie, K., Gyarmati, D., Pakula, B., Nguyen, C., & Leonard, D. (2017). Enhancing the retention and advancement of women in trades in British Columbia: Final report. Web.

Elson, P. R., & Hall, P. V. (2012). Canadian social enterprises: taking stock. Social Enterprise Journal, 8(3), 216-236. Web.

Mirchandani, K. (2002). A special kind of exclusion: Race, gender and self-employment. Atlantis, 27(1), 25-38.

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