Business For Good
Giant Adirondack Chairs manufactured by CCOA Wood Products are used by Sobeys in multiple Atlantic Canadian Locations. Photo provided by the East Hants and Districts Chamber of Commerce.
April 2018 by Tyler Mattheis, Sr. Business Development Officer
There are many innovative social enterprises in East Hants and throughout Nova Scotia that demonstrate innovation, entrepreneurship, and a passion for a social good.
East Hants is excited to attract, grow, and support social enterprises in our communities. Here are some tips and advice to get you started.
What is Social Enterprise?
Social enterprises occupy a space between traditional not-for-profit societies and for-profit enterprises. Social enterprises are characterized by a greater social purpose of an organization, followed by a decision to use revenue generating activities to propel the greater purpose.
Not-for-profit organizations, private companies and co-operatives can all be social enterprises serving their communities and furthering their social objectives. Today, there are more tools to enable social enterprises in Nova Scotia than ever before.
Are there any Social Enterprises in East Hants?
Yes! Corridor Community Options for Adults (CCOA) is one example of a social enterprise right here in East Hants. “CCOA is a not for profit registered charitable organization that provides supports to adults living with intellectual disabilities” (Corridor Community Options Society, 2018) and operates three social enterprises to “provide both a program for people to participate and train in, and also a way for the organization to raise funds to operate the programs and facility.” These are:
1. Rick’s Riches Thrift Store;
3. CCOA Wood Products which manufactures bagged kindling wood from scrap material, builds washer toss games, survey stakes, outdoor furniture, wine racks from pallets, and other products.
How can my business or organization become a Social Enterprise?
Three ways to become a social enterprise:
1. Just do it! Self-identify and develop a mission and business structure in line with the definition of social enterprise to become a Social Enterprise – just like that. This route is obviously the least expensive and is focused on thinking about your business or organization, its goals, and its mandate more deeply. You answer the question, “For what greater good do I exist?” You reinvest the majority of your profits to serve that purpose.
2. Become certified as a social enterprise by a third-party. This is pretty simple too. Two common third-party certifications are:
1. Buy Social Canada; and
3. Community Interest Company or CIC. This is a unique opportunity for Nova Scotian organizations. CICs enable non-profits to collect partial profits that can be issued to shareholders and make access to capital less difficult, among other benefits. For a full description of CICs, Miller Thomson published An In-depth Look at Nova Scotia’s New Community Interest Companies in July of 2016, or you can learn more on Common Good Solutions’ website.
How do I Learn More?
Here are four great sources of additional information:
1. The Network. The Social Enterprise Network of Nova Scotia (SENNS) updated their website in February of 2018 with an organized database of curated information to help individuals and organization find out more about social enterprises and if they are the right fit for their goals. The Social Enterprise Resource Database is an excellent place to start learning more about what you need at your stage of interest or need and is the only one of its kind in Canada.
2. Experts. Common Good Solutions is Nova Scotia’s first CIC designated social enterprise and its purpose is to create more social enterprises. Their website is
full of advice to get started, and they offer affordable and achievable solutions to take the right steps to launch and run a social enterprise. The East Hants Business and Economic Development team is also always available to advise, connect, and support you.
3. Government Agencies. The Nova Scotia Department of Business released a strategy document in April of 2017 that highlights the value social enterprises have to the NS economy. Advancing Social Enterprise in Nova Scotia [PDF] gives existing and aspiring social entrepreneurs insights into actions our province is taking to support social enterprise here in Nova Scotia.
4. Conferences. Many organizations involved in creating and promoting social enterprises will be gathering at the 2018 How We Thrive conference in Halifax this coming June. Browsing the agenda, attending, or connecting with presenters will enable you to take your next step towards social enterprise with confidence.
Give us a call and we can discuss your plans. Our Business and Economic Development team is excited to help you build or expand your business – social or otherwise – here in East Hants.