Social Innovation

SOCIAL INNOVATION refers to the creation, development, adoption and integration of new concepts and practices that put people and the planet first.

Social innovations resolve existing social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges. Some social innovations are systems-changing – they permanently alter the perceptions, behaviours and structures that previously gave rise to these challenges.

Even more simply, a social innovation is an idea that works for the public good.

Social innovations come from individuals, groups or organizations, and can take place in the for-profit, non-profit and public sectors. Increasingly, they are happening in the spaces between these three sectors as perspectives collide to spark new ways of thinking.

~ Centre for Social Innovation

A SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR is a person who uses a business model to solve social problems.  They come in all shapes and sizes with different lived experiences. Social entrepreneurs are motivated by social goals rather than increasing their personal wealth, and measure their success in terms of the impact they have on their society.

You’re a Social Entrepreneur if:

  • you’re motivated by a social mission
  • you measure your success in terms of the impact you have on society
  • you innovate by finding a new product, new service, or new approach to a social, cultural or environmental problem – such as:
    • reducing poverty
    • providing employment to those who face barriers
    • improving health
    • reducing violence
    • improving education
    • reducing pollution

Your mission could be as ambitious as pulling millions of people out of poverty or as modest as feeding people in your neighbourhood.


From online and in-class courses to DIY toolkits and free resources, opportunities abound. This directory of local, national and international options will help get you on your way.

A SOCIAL ENTERPRISE is an organization that uses business strategies to maximize its social or environmental impact. Social enterprises:

  • generate revenues from the sale of goods and services
  • are founded and operated with an intention to achieve positive social / environmental outcomes
  • measure, or intent to measure their social / environmental impact

Jumpstart your social enterprise with this SOCIAL BUSINESS MODEL CANVAS – a tool for creating a solid business model around your social enterprise. It’s also a collaborative tool that helps you communicate different business models with your stakeholders and brainstorm new ones.

Whether you’re thinking about creating a new enterprise, or expanding an existing one, you’ll find a directory of educational and informational resources including courses, events, mentorship and incubation spaces.

Here you’ll find a list of local, provincial and national grants, loans and equity investment options that are available for your social venture.

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