The Knowledge of Social Entrepreneurship

I have a confession to make.  Or maybe two- this is my first foray into the world of blogging and second, I have been very busy since joining the Trico Charitable Foundation learning the overabundance of terms, concepts and ideas that swirl around the notion of social enterprise. My cork board is cluttered with visual representations to further my understanding of social enterprise.  I have included a few for your enjoyment.

Spectrum Social Enterprise
Categorization of Different 'SE' Organizational Models

As practitioners in this field we are being called upon to be more socially innovative, or as Al Etmanski writes, “we need to do more with more”. Social entrepreneurship emerges out of trends among the three sectors – private, public and non-profit and the blurring of traditional roles within those sectors. I have often found it challenging to describe my work over the past 10 years as I have been working in this blurring of sectors and changing roles.  I have use the words, ‘connector’, ‘bridger’, and ‘catalyst’ to describe pulling  people from these three sectors to unite around a common idea and create impact.

Social Entrepreneurship Emerges in the Growing Intersection of the Three Sectors

The Task Force on Social Finance is recommending, among other things, action at the policy level to make it easier for the creation of social enterprises and the provision of business training for social entrepreneurs to open, operate and scale their business ideas.  This closely aligns with the work we are undertaking. It is exciting to be a part of the social enterprise movement in Calgary and across Canada.

Where the Trico Charitable Foundation Works

Our work at Trico is building on the notion of  doing more with more.  Earlier blogs have described how our funding works.  Our vision is to grow a community of sustainable, entrepreneurial non-profit organizations and our mission is to provoke innovation and build capacity in social entrepreneurship.  Through our funding initiatives and our commitment to incubating the ideas of social enterprise, we are committed to collaborating to build this space at a time when we are needing new ideas to old problems. The two main activities I want to write about are our upcoming Conference – Enterprising Spirit: Creating Value and Social Good, and our Social EnterPrize Awards.

Enterprising Spirit: Creating Value and Social Good

We have told you all to ‘save the date’ for a conference on social enterprise and this one day event, set for November 17th, 2011,  is beginning to take shape nicely.  We are gathering thoughtful leaders from across the country to speak about social enterprise and also bringing together non-profit practitioners who are experienced in thinking through, planning, and launching a social enterprise.  There will be plenty of opportunity for networking with people working in this space. Our working sessions will help the novice social entrepreneur with their development path to an earned income strategy and also the advanced social entrepreneur in thinking more deeply about the work they are doing.  Our recently confirmed keynote lunchtime speaker is a dynamic, social entrepreneur who is leading some of the best thinking happening in social enterprise in the country.  I am keeping her name out of this blog but keep checking our website for more conference information.  And, we will have a thoughtful address at the reception from Calgary’s Mayor Nenshi plus we will give out our Social EnterPrize Awards.

Social EnterPrize Awards

The Social EnterPrize Awards inject capital into the non-profit, social enterprise community.  We are funding organizations and individuals working in this space and are looking for national examples of best practices in social entrepreneurship.  Award details are being finalized and the application will be on our website in the next month.  The application builds on our vision of growing entrepreneurial non-profits.  The process of designing an application that truly captures the elements of success of a social enterprise is challenging.  I find myself concurrently building a common set of definitions and a terms of reference for complex ideas such as social impact, social innovation, sustainability, capacity.  There is a mountain of academic literature on this developing field. But now I am anticipating the stories of the non-profits and their leaders who are driving social entrepreneurship.  It is from them that substantive learning will occur.

Our group of judges bring a rich knowledge and expertise to the Social EnterPrize Awards.  We are excited to announce that our jury is composed of the following individuals:

  • Mr. Wayne Chiu – Executive Chairman Trico Charitable Foundation
  • Dean Wendelin Fraser – Dean of Mount Royal University’s Bissett School of Business
  • Mr. Derek Gent – Executive Director of the Vancity Community Foundation
  • Mr. Jim Gray – Corporate and Non-Profit Director
  • Professor Daniel Lai – Associate Dean of the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Social Work

The upcoming conference and awards process will contribute to the growing knowledge of social entrepreneurship.  I encourage you do three things to build the momentum:

1. Block off November 17th, 2011 for our conference.  We want a gathering of thinkers, practitioners, funders and motivators to build knowledge of social entrepreneurship.

2. Encourage your colleagues who are leaders in their non-profits and have an established social enterprise to consider applying for the Social EnterPrize, either as an organization or individual.

3. Add us to your social media – bookmark our website, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter.

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