Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Social Enterprise Exchange: Day of Discussion

On July 20th we had our most recent SEE event at My Sister's Place. Here are the notes that came out of the event. In the next post I will share what our next steps are with a call for presenters!

Discussion Notes: 

What do we need to do before making a business plan/model?
·         clients (people you serve) who can tell you what you need to do
·         anonymous survey
·         clients can point out gaps and opportunities in the gaps
·         internal organization and external community - attitudinal change
·         when we hear clients complain see it as a gap
·         the challenge is getting awareness about social enterprise into the community
·         co-creation between all members/stakeholders of your organization – not top down design
·         have your eyes open for where there isn’t a service and come up with ideas to fill that gap

Soap Box: Over 55 Housing Concept
The idea is to facilitate matching older female home owners with single female seniors who currently rent. This idea would improve their financial situations; reduce social isolation, increase safety and health. There is currently a 2 year waiting list for seniors housing. They would need a mind shift from living on own to sharing. Fact: 75% of the population who is over 65 are women.

Group Discussion
·         would students who are single and middle age also be interested in this concept?
·         does this model exist anywhere else to model after?
·         how/where would you find clients?
o   nonprofit agencies (their clients)
o   private sector business
o   real estate board
·         could this be taken bigger and be similar to off-campus housing where students rent from families?
·         Is there a website idea (like a matchmaking service) where people could advertise and you would match them up according to personality as well as available space to ensure compatibility?

Nonprofits should add business members to their Boards so they can:
·         improve business activities in nonprofit organization
·         tap the circles of influence (think of it as a partnership)
·         be mutually beneficial (can’t always be financially equal but fair in other ways)
·         these can form strategic alliances
·         build a respect for what we’re doing and vice versa
·         the community is starting to see a change
·         look for commonalities in businesses that fit your mission
·         don’t waste “asks”, have something tangible. People like to invest in something with outcomes
·         nonprofits need to learn business language and businesses need to learn social/missional language
·         nonprofits need to refrain from acting like we need a handout
·         when starting social enterprise we need start up capital/ one time investment/ sponsorship
·         what does a business care about from their clients perspective? 
·         How are your social enterprise services connecting with their business cycle to increase retention/revenue etc.?
·         how will the SE clients benefit
·         founder shouldn’t take ownership

Get to know the city’s landscape
·         what is happening in the business, academic, political, and non profit sectors in London?
·         London needs a civic engagement shift. It is starting with a core group of people who are very involved, but you’ll need to get involved with the community to ensure your social enterprise is known.

What happens when it is a mid-level staff with ideas for social enterprise?
·         start with examples to share that might help positively impact board and senior leadership levels to illustrate the effectiveness of social enterprise
·         top down leadership is no longer profitable but leaders will need to ensure their comfort with level of risk, organizational readiness etc.
·         ideas and excitement happen with bottom up approach, but you will need to pitch to your managers to create buy in
·         raise awareness, get out there, build credibility by offering pro bono support to others
·         deinstitutionalization has occurred and increased community involvement is needed, social enterprise can support what has impacted our community (ie: mental health, development disabilities – job creation is viable and life changing)
·         there is a large demographic shift in the sector
o   ED’s and BOD’s are retiring/shifting
o   with new emerging leaders there is collaboration attitude starting
o   survival of agency exists with funder (this is now an increased risk)

What needs to change in organizational structure to allow mid-level and front line staff to contribute to social enterprise?
·         Leaders allow freedom to create, test, pilot and make mistakes trying
·         Increase networking opportunities
·         Consider what you do outside of your role, make it a lifestyle change as you strive for what you are passionate about

Financial Resources and Examples for Social Enterprise
·         SiG@Mars (Causeway)
·         ENP-enterprising non profit
·         TEF-Toronto enterprise fund
·         Community Loan Funds (investments)
·         Urseline Sisters (investments)
·         Sisters of St. Joseph’s (investments)
·         Alterna Bank
·         VanCity