Or, what is a social business or social enterprise? In all fairness, there’s a whole debate and spectrum of what constitutes a social business and it could appear to be quite complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.

In essence, a social business is a business that seeks to address social challenges in the community through the selling of their products and services. A social business or social enterprise balances People and Profits to make the world a better place.

What does that really mean? Well, there are many social challenges in Calgary that your business can help with. “Again, what do you mean by social challenges?” I thought I heard you ask that.

Social challenges are those barriers that stand in the way of all of us living in an equal and inclusive community or economy. Some of the barriers may be unaffordable childcare, minimum wage not paying the bills, not getting enough hours at work, having a disability (either mental or physical or both), having a health condition, access to transit, education, and the list goes on. There are just so many problems out there.

But wait, your business can help solve and prevent these problems! Your business can create change in the community to create a more inclusive economy. You don’t have to register as a non-profit or social business (even though you can’t even register as a social business, yet), to be called a social business. Basically, any business can create change in their community by addressing these social challenges.

“…any business can create change in their community by addressing these social challenges.”

A social enterprise balances both being profitable in business with providing maximum benefits to the people of the community. It does not exploit people, but harnesses their strengths to build a stronger business and community. A non-profit or charity emphasizes people and providing services for people, not a big emphasis on business principles though. Social business blends the two in some capacity.

Take Ashley for example. Ashley has been a stay at home mom to her 3 young kids for years. She has dedicated her life to her kids. Plus, she can’t afford the $900+ per month, per child, to put in daycare so she can work at a minimum wage job. Just to pay for daycare, she’d have to make $2700, let alone pay for food and rent. But what if Ashley walked into your business, and she looked like she might be the perfect employee for you? You could hire her at a living wage, or more to whatever would make it affordable for her to work for you, and maybe provide a couple of benefits for her and her family. Because you believe that she will help you grow your business, you take the risk and pay her a decent wage and benefits. Maybe you also structure her hours to make drop off and pick up at the daycare accessible, or even allow her to work from home to be home with her kids.


BOOM! You are now a social business!!!


Northern Hills Connect, with support from Vivo, Thrive, and Calgary Foundation, will be hosting a Community Soup event to support you as you brainstorm some ideas you may have for creating change in your community and be a profitable business.

The Business Startup Coach will support you each step of the way as you start your business to watching it grow.

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