case study

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Successful printing Social Enterprise bought out by a private enterprise

Social enterprise demonstrates commercial viability of a printing business

Charles Printing, a Groupe Convex social enterprise, formerly from the private sector, is back within the private sector while maintaining its social mission!

Convex Group had purchased Charles Printing in 2005, after the owner of the company for 30 years, had put it for sale. Groupe Convex then acquired the company, with the help of a high-risk loan for equipment upgrades; Charles Printing was transformed into social purpose enterprise, employing individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Over the course of the 8 years under the umbrella of Groupe Convex`s network, the company provided employment for 8 people living with an intellectual disability.

The early years of this social enterprise were promising and in 24 months it had quadrupled annual sales revenue. Within five years, the social enterprise has repaid the loan. But this period brought broader market changes, both in technology and economically, resulting in more competition for the company on the market.

Creative companies, such as graphic design, and web development, are facing a major shift. These types of businesses can no more easily survive as '' stand alone'' businesses. They must diversify and innovate. That`s why a businessman got interested in Charles Printing. Mr. Gary Wilson, who owns DesignWorkshop for the past 26 years, was looking to offer a ''one stop shop'' to its customers, which could be under the same roof, with a range of services including signage, promotional items, posters and graphic design. So DesignWokshop had core design services, except those of the more traditional printing service. Hence the advantages from acquiring a printing shop with a high local reputation, Charles Printing!

Q&A with Community Partner: Groupe Convex

Interview with Groupe Convex Executive Director Caroline Arcand and OISE/UT PhD Candidate Ushnish Sengupta on the Groupe Convex case study

1. Please provide us with a brief description of Groupe Convex.

Groupe Convex (GC) is a nonprofit organization under which there is a group of diversified social purpose enterprises, employing people with various abilities, including people who are at great risk of unemployment, among whom the majority faces an intellectual disability. The social enterprises also employ Joe Average and Above Average, from the rural community of Prescott-Russell, in Eastern Ontario. The term ‘convex’ was chosen to highlight the fact that when someone looks into a convex mirror, his or her image is magnified. Therefore, the organization aims to increase its employees’ self-esteem by allowing them to assume a valued role. A valued role, in our northern American society, is one of the workers! Being at work is one of the most ''valorizing'' roles for any Canadian citizen.

Q&A with CURA Community Partner: TorontotheBetter

Interview with TorntotheBetter Secretary-Treasurer Tim Burns on the TorontotheBetter case study

1. Please provide us with a brief description of TorontotheBetter.

TorontotheBetter is an initiative that was created to facilitate participation in Toronto's social economy by enterprises and the general public.

2. What motivated you to become involved with this project?

We created TorontotheBetter primarily for two reasons: 1) to make it easier for buyers to locate and use social enterprises in Toronto; 2) to raise awareness about the possibility and actuality of economic activities that are motivated by ends other than financial gain.

3. How do you see TorontotheBetter benefiting from the research?

TorontotheBetter is benefiting by gaining greater awareness and understanding of Toronto's social economy.

4. How do you see the larger social economy benefiting from the research?

The benefits will be in 1) recognition by enterprises of their participation in an economic sector that is greater than their micro-enterprise, thus encouraging greater ambition, and 2) awareness of the concrete social effects and benefits of their work, thus increasing commitment and belief.

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