In honour of Canada Day, I thought it would be interesting to focus on a Canadian social enterprise that has gained international attention. You may have first heard about Me to We on the Oprah Winfrey Show or some other American television program, but this social enterprise is 100% Canadian.
From Free the Children to Me to We
In 1995, 12 year old Craig Kielburger and his brother Marc began their mission to provide education to children around the world through their charity Free the Children. Today, Free the Children has built over 650 schools and every day provides 55,000 children access to education. Additionally, Free the Children has been involved in alternative income programs, water and sanitation projects and has increased the accessibility to medical resources for over one million individuals living in the third world.
Noticing that the administrative costs associated with running a charity diminished the funds reaching those in need and that a pure business model did not fit their mission, the brothers decided to enter the realm of social enterprise by blending charitable impact with business practices. In 2008, the Kielburger brothers were able to increase the sustainability of Free the Children by developing the innovative social enterprise Me to We. Me to We is a mechanism for social change that inspires first world citizens into making a difference. These programs are geared towards youth helping youth and over a million youth have been engaged worldwide since its inception.