Social Innovation to Meet the Needs of Windsor-Essex

Photo credit: Social Innovation
Photo credit: snapd Windsor

WINDSOR, ON – May 21, 2015 – WEtech Alliance and Pathway to Potential are pleased to announce that they have successfully secured a $160,000 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to move social innovation forward in Windsor-Essex over 24 months.

The funded project is to launch the first phase of a regional social innovation project for Windsor-Essex. Social innovation is defined as new strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that meet the most pressing social needs of a community.

The project will have the dual focus of fostering social enterprise from both entrepreneurs and the not-for-profit sector. Social enterprises – businesses that have a positive social, cultural or environmental impact while generating revenue – make important contributions to social innovation by creating social value and introducing new ways of addressing complex social challenges. The first phase of the project will explore social innovation best practices and increase awareness and implementation of social enterprise through regional idea labs, workshops and contests.

“There are more than 10,000 social enterprises in Ontario and this number is set to grow. People are becoming more aware of the social impact in their spending. The number of socially conscious consumers in the last 20 years has risen by 170%. Also growing is the global social finance market, projected to reach $1 trillion by 2020”, said President and CEO of WEtech Alliance, Yvonne Pilon. “Additionally, there is a new wave of young entrepreneurs who want to balance making a profit with making positive social impact. Lastly, the government’s role is changing. Social enterprises can offer innovative ways to address needs that are too complex for public sector to tackle alone.”

Adam Vasey, Director of Pathway to Potential, the local poverty reduction strategy, said, “the landscape of the not-for-profit world is rapidly changing and social enterprises are playing a significant role by lifting people out of poverty and building stronger communities and more resilient local economies. Of the 10,000 social enterprises in Ontario, 70 per cent are focused on poverty reduction.” He added, “The province is committed to supporting social enterprises and with this local project, we can help our community leverage what is available – whether that’s accessing available grants, loans, education or services.” Vasey added.Lisa Gretzky Quote

“This grant recognizes the significant contributions WEtech Alliance and Pathway to Potential have made to the development of social enterprise in Windsor-Essex, as well as the importance of supporting continued innovation,” said Lisa Gretzky, Member of Provincial Parliament for Windsor West. “Social innovation will enhance our local economy at the same time as creating a more caring and compassionate community.”

A full time coordinator will be hired to provide program support. The job posting for the coordinator position can be here:

About the Ontario Trillium Foundation
A leading grant maker in Canada, the Ontario Trillium Foundation strengthens the capacity of the voluntary sector through investments in community-based initiatives. An agency of the Government of Ontario, OTF builds healthy and vibrant communities.

About WEtech Alliance
As one of the eighteen Regional Innovation Centres in the province of Ontario, funded by the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs, WEtech provides an extensive roster of programs, advisory services and training to clients and members in the technology and innovation sectors in the Windsor-Essex and Chatham-Kent regions. For more information, visit

About Pathway to Potential – Windsor Essex County’s Poverty Reduction Strategy
Pathway to Potential (P2P) works within the community to reduce and prevent poverty in Windsor-Essex. We accomplish this by engaging the community to identify and remove barriers to social and economic resources through education, research and advocacy. P2P is funded by the City of Windsor and County of Essex. P2P participates in a network with other communities across Canada through Vibrant Communities Canada.

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Yvonne Pilon
President/CEO, WEtech Alliance
720 Ouellette Avenue, Suite 133 Windsor, ON, N9A 1C2
office: 519- 997-2857

Adam Vasey
Director, Pathway to Potential
80 Chatham Street East
Windsor, ON, N9A 2W1
office: 519-255-6545 ext. 6953
mobile: 519-562-8668