What is this thing called Social Enterprise? For decades communities have challenged non-profits to think more like businesses. They have decried the constant request for donations, the lack of adequate sustainable plans, for marketing plans and financial management. Yet resources are scarce and funders of the day are unable to address all of the needs of the diverse communities.
Social enterprises are market based solutions to poverty and social problems in communities. They see blend the purpose of generating income and achieving their desired end. It is non-profits thinking and indeed, acting like businesses to achieve their social outcomes. It decreases their reliance on government funding, and increases their nimbleness to address issues in their community.
In 2008 when recession hit, Pathways sought to provide more opportunity for those who struggled to find employment. Our social enterprise, Clean Works, hires employees to fulfill contracts in the community. It provides additional supports, training and flexibility and accommodation as staff become familiar with job sites. It seeks to provide a high quality commercial cleaning, with outstanding service and competitive prices. But more importantly, it is another step for many to return to the workforce on a full time basis. For some it provides a platform from which to rebuild theirs lives. The care, development and consistent employment have been transformative for many over the past 6 years. Some stay with Clean Works for a period of months, for others they stay for several years, growing into various roles.
Non-profits are driven by their missions to impact people in their communities. Pathways Skill Developments’ mission is to assist individuals to overcome multiple barriers to meaningful employment. Clean Works fulfills that in the cleaning industry.
Watch this video from the Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise 2015