As an entrepreneur, you may sometimes wonder, “what is a social enterprise?” Much like any other type of business, the goal of a social enterprise is to make a profit. The way the profit is distributed is what separates a social enterprise from a non-profit or for-profit business. To be considered a social enterprise, the profit generated from selling a good or service must be reinvested into the business' mission, which typically addresses one or more social, economic, environmental or cultural issues. Could a social enterprise be in your business plans?

With 1,158 social enterprises as of 2014, Nova Scotia has a vibrant sector that contributes to the province's economic growth and social well-being. A sector survey conducted in 2014 shows impressive numbers for the 232 social enterprises that responded: They employed at least 5,630 people, generated some $127 million through the sale of goods and services, and averaged $1.3 million in total revenues.

In April this year, the Government of Nova Scotia formally recognized the economic and community-building value of the sector. It introduced its Framework for Advancing Social Enterprise — a strategy designed to give entrepreneurs the support they need with essentials like business training, access to financing, and awareness building.

The province of Nova Scotia is one of only two Canadian provinces with a law recognizing social enterprise as a business. Introduced in November 2016, this legislation allows any business formed under the Companies Act in Nova Scotia to be designated as a Community Interest Company (CIC) if it combines entrepreneurship with a social purpose.

If you're ready to turn your existing enterprise or new business idea into a tool for the greater good in Nova Scotia, but are not sure where to begin, you could start by investigating the following:

You can also find great resources and tips to help you manage and grow your business on our website under Social enterprises and non-profits, learn about some basics on our Steps to a social enterprise start-up page, or give us a call at 1-888-576-4444.