Social Enterprises: Significant Employment Creator and Economic Generator

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 New research shows that social enterprises, businesses operated by non-profit organizations for the dual purpose of generating income and creating a social, environmental, and cultural value, are significant contributors to both employment creation and economic generators.

The report, Strength, Size, Scope: A Survey of Social Enterprises in Alberta and British Columbia profiles data from 140 of 295 social enterprises in both provinces gathered in the spring and summer of 2010. These social enterprises are engaged in a wide variety of social, cultural, environmental and revenue raising market activities.

Of the total of 4,500 employees, 60 percent or 2,700 employees were members of a designated target group such as persons with a mental or physical handicap or a member of a marginalized population. In addition, the social enterprises that responded to the survey engaged 6,780 full- and part-time volunteers and 27,870 people as members. These social enterprises were responsible for training 11,670 people and providing services to an additional 678,000 people.

The sale of goods and services in the market generated $78 million in revenue across the two provinces and an aggregate net profit of $7.9 million, in the 2009 financial year.  Like other nonprofit organizations, social enterprises solicit non-market funds from a variety of funders, including foundations, government and individual donors.

The authors, Peter R Elson of Mount Royal University and Peter Hall of Simon Fraser University hope that this survey will establish a template for similar surveys of Social Enterprises across Canada and will provide a basis for tracking the progress of social enterprises in Alberta and British Columbia.

The research was funded by The BC-Alberta Social Economy Research Alliance (BALTA) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), in collaboration with Mount Royal University and Simon Fraser University


Peter R. Elson, Senior Research Associate , Institute for Nonprofit Studies, Mount Royal University  (403) 440- 8722

Peter Hall, Associate Professor, Urban Studies Program, Simon Fraser University (778) 782-6691

To download the full report:

Institute for Nonprofit Studies (Nonprofit resources), Mount Royal University: