Canadian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
School of Business
University of Alberta
The author and the Canadian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship (CCSE) would like to acknowledge the support of many individuals and organizations in the completion of this project. We would particularly like to thank all of the young social entrepreneurs who were generous with their time and insights for this research. We are also grateful to several individuals who were instrumental in directing us to these dynamic young social entrepreneurs and helping to shape our research ideas: Don McNair, Saralyn Hodgkin, Avril Orloff, Laurent Leduc and Mai Anh LeVan. Lori Hanson and Mary-Frances Wright provided valuable feedback on the structure and content of this paper.
The CCSE is very grateful for the financial support provided by Alberta Economic Development, without which this research would not have been possible.
In broad terms, this research is grounded in, as well as the result of, many conversations held between the author, Gary McPherson, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship (CCSE), and various individuals involved in dual bottom-line initiatives, i.e., those which work towards meeting social and economic goals simultaneously. This is both an emerging and rapidly growing area of practice in Canada, and one that resonates particularly with young Canadians (35 and under). As is common in areas of emerging and practitioner-driven subject matter, the research literature and documentation lags far behind.
More specifically, this research was sparked by a discussion with Don McNair, publisher of “Making Waves: Canada’s Community Economic Development (CED) Magazine.” Responding to the CCSE’s literature review, and its assertion that there were virtually no documented cases of social entrepreneurship in Canada, he commented that his recent experience with Canadian CED projects had: “…satisfied me that the greater number of them embody the traits of social entrepreneurship as [the literature review] describes, endeavouring as they do explicitly to blend economic, social, and environmental goals within the mission and functions of businesses, nonprofits, development corporations, co-operatives, and all manner of social enterprises.”
This paper is one attempt to address some of the gaps in the Canadian social entrepreneurship debate, and to explore the intersections between socially entrepreneurial initiatives and the well-established field of community economic development in Canada.
Social entrepreneurship is characterized by an emphasis on ‘social innovation through entrepreneurial solutions.’ Socially entrepreneurial activities blur the traditional boundaries between the public, private and non-profit sectors, and emphasize hybrid models of for-profit and non-profit activities. Cross-sectoral collaborations are implicit within this model, as is the development of radical new approaches to address long-standing and complex social/economic problems. In the last decade, both the concept and practice of social entrepreneurship have been embraced in the U.S. and Britain. Subsequently, significant organizational and institutional resources have materialized in both these countries to encourage and support nascent social entrepreneurs and their activities.
Canada faces many of the same social and economic challenges as Britain and the U.S., but here both the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship have been met with far less enthusiasm overall. However, there is one very important exception: many young Canadians (aged 18-29) appear very open to embracing dual bottom-line initiatives and there are an increasing number of young Canadian social entrepreneurs emerging in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors. This paper examines and analyzes the experience and practice of six young social entrepreneurs.
The purpose of this research is threefold. First, as the literature on Canadian social entrepreneurship is sparse, this research will compare the individual and organizational characteristics of young Canadian social entrepreneurs with those identified in the research literature, in order to establish how representative the research is to the Canadian experience. Second, the goal is to focus on the accomplishments of, and identify challenges faced by young Canadian social entrepreneurs in order to provide insight as to how future initiatives in this area can be supported by organizations such as the CCSE. Third, this research will examine the intersection(s) between socially entrepreneurial initiatives and CED in Canada. If there is, as expected, significant overlap between the two fields, the implications of this for the development of social entrepreneurship will be discussed.
It should be emphasized that because social entrepreneurship is an under-researched area in general (and essentially an un-researched area in Canada) that the research this paper draws from was a pilot project. As such, this paper and the research it is based on are not meant to provide definitive answers per se, but rather to provide some preliminary insights into this emerging area, and act as a starting point for future research and activities. As the CCSE is located within the Business School at the University of Alberta, the findings are particularly relevant for future CCSE initiatives aimed at engaging the next generation of business leaders in social enterprises.
The first section of this paper provides background and context for this discussion. In particular it looks at key debates within the social entrepreneurship literature and identifies primary characteristics of social entrepreneurs. It also presents a brief discussion of the ‘nexus generation’ (Canadians 18-34 years of age) and the potential for this group to become a vibrant generation of social entrepreneurs. The second section provides details of the research methodology employed in this project. The third section synthesizes the experience of six young Canadian entrepreneurs working towards dual or even triple-bottom lines. Each of these individuals is responsible for creating and implementing a for-profit or not-for-profit venture designed to align their social vision with their entrepreneurial drive. Specifically, this section presents the analytical findings of this research in three areas: testing practice against the literature; highlighting key issues arising from this research and the implications of these for future initiatives in the area of social entrepreneurship; and examining the intersection between social entrepreneurship and community economic development.
2.0 BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
2.1 Social Entrepreneurship
Defining what social entrepreneurship is, and what its conceptual boundaries are, is not an easy task. This is in part because the concept is inherently complex, and in part because the literature in the area is so new that little consensus has emerged on the topic. While the ideas fuelling social entrepreneurship are not new (Victorian private hospitals and the hospice movement are both cited as examples of social entrepreneurship (Thompson et al., 2000)) the term as it is used in the academic and popular literature currently encompasses a rather broad range of activities and initiatives.
Peter Drucker argues that social entrepreneurs “...change the performance capacity of society” (Gendron, 1996, p. 37) while Henton et al. (1997) speak of ‘civic entrepreneurs’ as “...a new generation of leaders who forge new, powerfully productive linkages at the intersection of business, government, education and community” (p.1). Schulyer (1998) describes social entrepreneurs as “...individuals who have a vision for social change and who have the financial resources to support their ideas....who exhibit all the skills of successful business people as well as a powerful desire for social change” (p. 1). Boschee (1998) presents social entrepreneurs as “...non-profit executives who pay increased attention to market forces without losing sight of their underlying mission” (p. 1). Thompson et al. (2000) describe social entrepreneurs as “...people who realize where there is an opportunity to satisfy some unmet need that the state welfare system will not or cannot meet, and who gather together the necessary resources (generally people, often volunteers, money and premises) and use these to ‘make a difference’”(p. 328).
In spite of the varying definitions of social entrepreneurship, one commonality emerges in almost every description: the ‘problem-solving nature’ of social entrepreneurship is prominent, and the corresponding emphasis on developing and implementing initiatives that produce measurable results in the form of changed social outcomes and/or impacts. For example, McLeod (1996) quotes one social entrepreneur who criticized his own organization’s earlier ineffective approach, noting they originally asked “...’how many people walked in the door’ rather than ‘how many people are better off for having walked in the door?” (p. 103).
The locus of social entrepreneurship is also a subject of debate in the research literature. Some authors argue that social entrepreneurship exists primarily in the not-for-profit sector with the goal of providing business expertise and market-based skills to help this sector become more efficient at providing and delivering services. Others, including the CCSE, define social entrepreneurship more broadly, arguing that social entrepreneurship can occur within the public, private or not-for-profit sectors, and is in essence a hybrid model involving both for-profit and not-for-profit activities as well as cross-sectoral collaboration.
This latter definition puts more emphasis on the ‘entrepreneurial’ nature of these activities and the creativity and innovation that entrepreneurs bring to solving social problems in unique ways rather than focusing on the social benefits such services can provide. This conceptualization suggests social entrepreneurship can take a variety of forms, including innovative not-for-profit ventures, social purpose business ventures (e.g., for-profit community development banks, and hybrid organizations mixing for-profit and not-for-profit activities (e.g., homeless shelters that start small businesses to train and employ their residents)) (Dees, 1998).
In this spirit, Henton et al. (1997) comment that “...(l)ike the business entrepreneur, the civic entrepreneur operates in a time of dramatic change, sees opportunity and mobilizes others in the community to work toward their collective well-being” (p. 4), essentially acting as catalysts for social change processes. It is the innovativeness of the approach that essentially defines this conceptualization of social entrepreneurship. Dees (1998) comments that just as not every new business venture qualifies as ‘entrepreneurial,’ not every social venture qualifies as ‘socially entrepreneurial.’ This isn’t to depreciate the impact of non-entrepreneurial social initiatives in any way, but merely to make the distinction clear given the broad use of terminology around social entrepreneurship.
2.2 Characteristics of Social Entrepreneurs
While many definitions of social entrepreneurship emphasize the ‘social’ rather than the entrepreneurial nature of the activity (e.g., by focussing on non-profit organizations and their activities), much of the literature on social entrepreneurs emphasizes the ‘entrepreneurial’ characteristics of such individuals. They are often compared to business entrepreneurs with a social mission, or more colourfully as being “...one species in the genus entrepreneur” (Dees, 1998, p. 3). James (2001) echoes this sentiment, noting that social entrepreneurs are “…like other entrepreneurs, only they are in it for the social improvement, not the money” (p. 58).
Many authors note that social entrepreneurs (much like economic entrepreneurs) do not allow the lack of initial resources to limit their options, and that their reach often exceeds their grasp (e.g., Dees, 1998; Henton et al., 1997). In addition, many social entrepreneurs share with their economic counterparts a strong desire to be in control of their environment, the urge to experiment, and a higher than average tolerance for uncertainty (Prabhu, 1999). Catford (1998) notes that social and economic entrepreneurs share the same focus on vision and opportunity and the same ability to convince and empower others to help them turn these visions into a reality. In social entrepreneurs, however, these characteristics are coupled with a strong desire for social justice.
There are also other major differences between social and economic entrepreneurs. Prabhu (1999) argues that they are distinguished primarily by ideology, which guides their choices of mission, means and ends, and that social entrepreneurs are “...persons who create or manage innovative entrepreneurial organizations or ventures whose primary mission is the social change and development of their client group” (p. 140) rather than the pursuit of profit. Social entrepreneurs involved in for-profit activities see profit as a means to an end, while economic entrepreneurs see profit as an end in itself (Dees, 1998; Thalhuber, 1998) In addition, social entrepreneurs are generally operating in community environments that are dynamic and somewhat unpredictable” (De Leeuw, 1999), adding yet another layer of complexity to the process. Burnham (2002) highlights the importance of developing advisory boards that are comfortable with risk and possessing an entrepreneurial vision and to support non-profit organizations undertaking socially entrepreneurial initiatives.
Somewhat unlike their economic counterparts, social entrepreneurs emerge not only as highly entrepreneurial individuals, but also highly collaborative ones, providing “....collaborative leadership to bring diverse parties to the table, identify common ground and take joint action. They build bridges” (Henton et al., 1997, p. 153). The ability to develop a network of relationships and contacts is a hallmark of visionary social entrepreneurs, as is the ability to communicate an inspiring vision in order to recruit and inspire staff, partners, and volunteers (Thompson et al., 2000, p.331). Because social entrepreneurship often demands establishing credibility across multiple constituencies, and the ability to mobilize support within those constituencies, networking is a critical skill for social entrepreneurs (Prabhu, 1999). Unlike economic entrepreneurs, Prabhu argues that social entrepreneurs are often highly supportive of each other’s efforts, in some cases writing letters to one another to show this support.
The social entrepreneur emerges as a rare individual with multiple talents, including no less than the ability “...to analyse, to envision, to communicate, to empathize, to enthuse, to advocate, to mediate, to enable and to empower a wide range of disparate individuals and organizations” (De Leeuw, 1999, p. 261). Continuing along this theme, Bornstein (1998) characterizes a social entrepreneur as “...a pathbreaker with a powerful idea, who combines visionary and real world problem-solving creativity, who has a strong ethical fibre and who is totally possessed by his or her vision for change” (p.36).
Dees (1998) identifies five criteria that social entrepreneurs possess: adopting a mission to create and sustain social value; recognizing and relentlessly pursuing new opportunities to serve that mission; engaging in a process of continuous innovation, adaptation and learning; acting boldly without being limited by resources currently in hand; and exhibiting a heightened sense of accountability to the constituencies served and to the outcomes created (p.4). Dees argues that the closer an individual gets to satisfying these criteria, the more that individual fits the model of a social entrepreneur. But he also recognizes that in many ways, the literature on social entrepreneurship describes “...a set of behaviours that are exceptional. These behaviours should be encouraged and rewarded in those that have the capabilities and temperament for this kind of work....Should everyone aspire to be a social entrepreneur? No. Not every social leader is well-suited to being entrepreneurial. The same is true in business. Not every business leader is an entrepreneur in the sense that Say, Schumpeter, Drucker and Stevenson had in mind” (Dees, 1998, p.6).
While common sense dictates that not everyone will have the skills and talents required to undertake entrepreneurial activity for social and/or economic purposes, Thompson et al. (2000) raise the issue of latent entrepreneurial ability. It is possible that latent social entrepreneurship exists in individuals with “...the potential to be entrepreneurial but, for some reason or another, the talent is trapped and needs spotting and releasing” (p. 332).
2.3 Resistance to Social Entrepreneurship
As mentioned in the introduction to this paper, the concept and practice of social entrepreneurship has been widely embraced in the U.S. and the U.K., but has met with less enthusiasm in Canada, with the exception of young Canadians. Adoption (or non-adoption) of a concept is complex and multi-faceted, but there are likely a few key reasons why Canadians have been slow to embrace social entrepreneurship and its potential for addressing long-standing social problems.
A recent literature review noted the dearth of documented Canadian examples of social entrepreneurship (Johnson, 2002). Based on our experiences at the CCSE, we are starting to believe this reflects a discomfort with the terminology of social entrepreneurship (and a corresponding lack of research in this area) rather than a lack of socially entrepreneurial initiatives. In particular, the language of social entrepreneurship, and in particular its application of business terminology to the discussion of social change, has not resonated with Canadian organizations as it has in Britain and the United States
The first factor has to do with Canada’s political and economic history and the development, starting in the 1960s, of a broad-based social safety net. This was accomplished through policy mechanisms such as medicare, and a commitment to tax-based mechanisms which provide a more equitable distribution of income across the population than in either the U.S. or the U.K. This has been eroded somewhat in recent years, due in part to a globalized economic system and the emergence of a global neo-liberal philosophy which emphasizes market forces as the best method for income redistribution. Yet many Canadians still view the state (or state-funded non-profit organizations) as the ‘provider of choice’ in the area of social services and are suspect of initiatives that blur the boundaries between the private sector and social service providers (either government or non-governmental organizations).
Globalization processes have also created an increasingly powerful market sector, one in which governments at all levels are finding they have less overt power to regulate or even influence. Recent grassroots opposition to globalization processes attest to a growing citizen unease with an increasingly powerful market sector, and some view this as an opportunity for the private sector to balance corporate profit with a corresponding commitment to public responsibility (Reis, 1999, p.2). However, many are also concerned about a perceived imbalance of power between the private and public sectors and view social entrepreneurship and similar initiatives as steps down a very slippery slope towards increased private sector control.
The language of the private sector may also form barriers to the acceptance of social entrepreneurship in Canada. Social entrepreneurship, rooted as it is in entrepreneurial approaches and ideology, uses the language of business. For many individuals committed to improving social conditions, there is a discomfort with terminology such as ‘revenue streams’ and ‘return on investment’ in reference to social goals. At one level this may be the relatively simple discomfort that comes with encountering unfamiliar terms, and one that can be alleviated as fluency with business jargon increases. At another level, there is a very deep discomfort reflecting basic ideological differences. Many individuals and organizations are uncomfortable with a model that appears to require a demonstrated ‘return on investment’ when that investment is centred around fulfilling basic human needs. However, others argue that shifting the language, for example from ‘aid recipients’ to ‘investees’ is an important mechanism for empowering individuals.
2.4 The Nexus Generation and Social Entrepreneurship
The resistance noted above applies primarily in the case of senior-level individuals and organizations with a long history of working towards social improvements. As noted earlier in this paper, young Canadians (35 years and under) have been much more open to adopting socially entrepreneurial approaches than older Canadians. In 2001 the CCSE initiated research on the topic of ‘Engaging the Next Generation of Social and Civic Leaders’ conducted via interviews with members of the Nexus generation (Canadians 18-34 years of age).
This project asked socially engaged Nexus generation respondents how the voluntary, public and private sectors could attract and engage young Canadians in present and future civic and social initiatives. The majority of respondents indicated a strong desire to be more socially and civically active, but felt frustrated by constraints and barriers in each of the sectors. Respondents noted that they were searching for ways to effectively meld their social and civic concerns with their professional development, and ultimately wanted to find ways to make tangible, lasting contributions in this area. Not surprisingly, Nexus generation respondents felt that currently the voluntary, public and private sectors could all be more effective in engaging young Canadians in civic and social issues (the full report on “Strengthening the Generational Chain: Engaging the Next Generation of Social and Civic Leaders in Canada” is available on the CCSE website at www.bus.ualberta.ca/ccse/publications).
This group responded favourably to the idea of hybrid models of social engagement that combined elements of for-profit and not-for-profit activities. Activities falling into this category include social enterprise, in which not-for-profits create a for-profit enterprise and channel profits into social mission work, and venture philanthropy, which employs a venture capital model for supporting and fostering philanthropic work. Respondents indicated strong interest in the creation and growth of socially responsible businesses, and strong support for a ‘socially engaged’ private sector. They indicated that they felt the private sector had a responsibility to put something back into the communities that support their business, and that they want to support companies that do so. These findings are supported by the results of this research as well.
A qualitative research methodology was chosen for this pilot project as this approach is useful in situations where “… there is little known about a domain...or when the research question pertains to understanding or describing a particular phenomenon or event about which little is known” (Field and Morse, 1985, p. 11). Qualitative methods are used often in cases where a topic has not been previously addressed in a research context, and as such, “…the problem itself may not be clear…a qualitative researcher may enter a setting with a topic for study, rather than a clearly delineated question” (Field and Morse, 1985, p. 9).
In this case a research framework was developed drawing on various sources. A sample of the research questions in attached as Appendix A of this paper. The first section of the research framework seeks general information about the characteristics of the firm, including organizational age, size, location, budget/revenue. The second and third sections draw on the existing social entrepreneurship literature, asking questions related to social entrepreneurship in general, and characteristics of the individual social entrepreneurs. This was intended to test the literature for its relevance and accuracy to the experiences of a) Canadian social entrepreneurs, and b) young social entrepreneurs, two groups who have not been the study of published research to date. These sections were supplemented by questions designed to draw out the community development aspect of various socially entrepreneurial initiatives.
A small sample size was selected, in part due to time and budget constraints, and in part to do a test run of the research approach. It is hoped that the findings of this project will be used to inform a larger future study of young Canadian social entrepreneurs.
Possible respondents were identified largely through personal contacts with individuals through the CCSE network. Possible respondents had to meet the following criteria:
· under the age of 30;
· founders/principals of organizations working towards a dual-bottom line (social and economic returns)
· innovative, creative ventures (e.g., not replicating something already in existence);
· can be based in the for-profit or not-for-profit sector, but some form of enterprise development must be involved.
In the words of one of the research participants, Rahul Raj, the organizations had “…to employ a business-disciplined approach to achieving a social mandate.”
Of the initial individuals identified through the CCSE’s network and meeting the above criteria, each of the first six individuals approached agreed to participate in the research project via the interview process. A list of the participants and a brief description of their organizational role and goals is provided in Appendix B of this document.
4.0 RESEARCH FINDINGS
4.1 Testing The Literature
The first purpose of this research was to test the experiences and motivations of a group of young Canadian social entrepreneurs against the characteristics identified in the social entrepreneurship literature. This section provides a brief introduction to (and overview of) the participants and discusses the overlap between the theory and the practice of this group of young social entrepreneurs.
4.1.1 Research Participant Overview (organized by organization/company age)
- Rahul Raj, Founder and Executive Director, Meal Exchange
- A not-for-profit organization (founded 1993, Waterloo, ON). Under this innovative programs, students are able to transform unused meal plan points into groceries, which they then deliver to local community organizations and food banks. Meal Exchange programs now exist at 45 post-secondary and 5 secondary educational institutions across Canada. The organization is run on a franchise concept, where each campus runs a Meal Exchange Chapter. Raj estimates that through this program, over $260,000 worth of food will be donated to community organizations this year.
- Age at organization founding: 17
- Education: Business/Philosophy Degree
- Current organizational staff: 3 full-time
- Chris Godsall, Founder and Advisor, Santropol Roulant
- A not-for-profit organization (founded 1994 in Montreal, PQ) engaging youth in an innovative meals-on-wheels service. Since its inception, Santropol Roulant has delivered over 200,000 meals to 1,100 seniors, engaged over 1,200 volunteers and created more than 200 temporary and training jobs for youth. The organization has also won numerous awards, including the Peter F. Drucker Award for non-profit innovation (1997).
- Age at organization founding: 26
- Education: Political Science/English Degree; Business Master’s Degree
- Current organization staff: 2 full-time
- Simon Boone, Founder and Principal, Generation Solar
- A for-profit company (founded 1998 in Peterborough, ON) working in the area of sustainable energy technology, and working to meet a triple-bottom line (meeting social, environmental and economic goals).
- Age at company founding: 25
- Education: Engineering Degree
- Current company staff: 2 full-time (partners)
- Geordie Ouchterlony, Founder and Principal, Home Grown Organic Foods
- A for-profit company (founded in 1998 in Halifax, NS) dedicated to increasing consumer awareness about the benefits of organic foods, increasing the organic foods market, and helping organic food producers generate sustainable long-term profits.
- Age at company founding: 25
- Education: Environmental Engineering
- Current company staff: 11
- Leo Wong, Founder and Advisor, Youth One
- A not-for-profit organization (founded 2000, in Edmonton, AB) to create an on-line community for youth and through this link youth and youth-at-risk with information regarding resources available in the broader community.
- Age at organization founding: 21
- Education: Business Degree, currently doing PhD in Marketing
- Current organization staff: 1
- Natalie Chinsam, Founder and Director, HumanityLink International
- A not-for-profit organization (founded 2002 in Toronto, ON) focussed on creating links between Toronto and Guyana. Natalie was also responsible for the creation, development and implementation of “Yes Youth Can” Entrepreneurial Forums in Toronto and Newfoundland, and has been asked to coordinate similar events across Canada.
- Age at organization founding: 26
- Education: Business Degree
- Current organization staff: 0 full time, 3 part-time
Respondents were asked about the size of their annual organizational budget. Responses varied from categories of ‘less than $50,000/year’ to annual budgets ‘greater than $250,000/year.’
4.1.2 Characteristics of Social Entrepreneurship
Imagine, some of the brightest people in the world are looking to develop stain-resistant, wrinkle-free pants. If you had taken that team’s intellect and applied it towards addressing even one simple social problem, chances are we’d make tremendous progress. (Rahul Raj, Founder and Executive Director, Meal Exchange)
From a reading of the literature, there appear to be three key characteristics of socially entrepreneurial ventures. The first is that each initiative emphasizes a problem solving approach. Secondly, socially entrepreneurial approaches address identified problems through the development of creative and innovative solutions, and by finding new ways to harness existing resources to meet latent demand. Thirdly, these ventures employ some form of dual-bottom line strategy, incorporating social goals with an enterprise approach. As Godsall commented during the research interview “What I’m really interested in is taking the same kind of energy and passion that the classic entrepreneur has and applying them to social problems….An entrepreneur is always trying to find a way to connect some new thing, new approach, new capability to latent demand for something.” All six of the entrepreneurs interviewed met these criteria.
In the for-profit sector, both Generation Solar and Home Grown Organic Foods are employing a business model to meet a triple-bottom line and have created ventures that attempt to meet economic, social and environmental goals simultaneously. Generation Solar is attempting to meet growing demand for green environmental technologies and ultimately Boone would like to see his company “….install enough renewable energy technology to offset its existence. So in other words, our company consumes energy just being here and I would like there to be a net benefit to the environment from this company.”
In the not-for-profit sector, Meal Exchange identified a ‘hidden’ resource (unused points from student meal plans) and found a way to direct these to community organizations to address local hunger, leveraging a small base of organizational funding to create a significantly larger community impact, and engaging what is currently estimated to be around 300 active volunteers nationally in the process. Founder Raj identifies one of his organizational goals as increasing the size of the ‘volunteer market’ rather than ‘stealing market share’ in this area. He notes that Meal Exchange has a “…compounded annual growth rate over the past 5 years of greater than 80 percent. We’ve taken it from two campuses in 1998 to 45 in 2003.”
What is particularly notable in the above examples is the amount off volunteer engagement in relation to the staffing levels of these not-for-profit organizations, and the impact these ventures are having on generating civic engagement in young Canadians. Some of these ventures specifically target the civically unengaged and make the creation of an entry point for youth volunteers a specific goal. As Raj notes about Meal Exchange, “what determines success is how engaged individuals are towards volunteerism.”
Also notable among the not-for-profit organizations was a wariness of developing any type of dependency on government grants. This is in recognition, as Wong notes, that “…in a not-for-profit environment, always going after funding is taxing and not exactly sustainable. To start a program and have it die three years down the road is tragic for everyone involved.” Wong went on to say that while small grants may provide useful start-up funding, socially entrepreneurial organizations need to begin searching for alternative revenue streams immediately. Youth One publishes Moz Magazine, an off-line version of Youth One, and funds publication solely through the sale of advertising. The organization is also exploring other revenue generation alternatives, including training youth volunteers to provide affordable information technology (IT) training within the not-for-profit sector. Godsall echoed these sentiments, noting that from its inception, Santropol Roulant didn’t want to “create dependencies” on public funding. As such, it was important for the organization to start thinking about sustainability (and the core funding required to support this) “…from day one.” Godsall felt that not only was this critical to ensuring an organization’s future, but it also helped to focus on efficient management of resources, and to get not-for-profit organizations into the mindset of “diversifying their portfolio of financial sources.”
4.1.3 Characteristics of Social Entrepreneurs:
The thing about being a social entrepreneur is that it’s easy to do the organizational chart. You make a list of all the jobs, you draw one box, put your name there and throw all the jobs in that box. (Chris Godsall, Founder and Advisor, Santropol Roulant)
The research literature describes social entrepreneurs as possessing a set of characteristics that are exceptional. Although the age, size and scope of their operations vary, the young social entrepreneurs listed above share many characteristics. In addition to being an articulate and charismatic group, all were fluent in the language of both the social and business worlds - an essential characteristic of those wanting to work in the hybrid world of social entrepreneurship. Four of the six participants have formal business training (Chinsam, Godsall, Raj, and Wong), supplemented in some cases (e.g. Raj, Chinsam) with significant private sector experience. All but two indicated previous entrepreneurial experience, including two who had set up companies previously through their involvement with Junior Achievement. Of the two who denied having previous entrepreneurial experience, one noted that he had taken a lead on several non-entrepreneurial initiatives (e.g., conference planning, fundraising) that provided him with the requisite skill set for undertaking an entrepreneurial venture.
Of the respondents who had set up for-profit initiatives, both mentioned during the interview that ‘maximizing profit’ was not the main goal, but rather that their entrepreneurial ventures were a means to other ends, including job flexibility. This is in line with the social entrepreneurship literature, which also notes ‘control over one’s environment’ and ‘urge to experiment’ as characteristics of social entrepreneurs. Boone noted that he wanted the flexibility of running his own business, and that he actually liked the idea of not knowing how much he would earn each month. He also noted the importance of doing something he “…felt good about. The business is far more to me than just earning a living. I didn’t want to be exploiting people just to make money, or exploiting the environment.” Ouchterlony noted that creating an entrepreneurial venture was highly motivated by “…my character and my desire to be independent and be in control over my work environment and to have more say than as an employee in terms of how things are being done….I certainly like to have some say over how, when, where and why things are being done.” Both noted a desire to keep lifestyle needs relatively simple, thus minimizing economic requirements.
A lack of attention to profit maximization was also noted in the not-for-profit sector respondents. Chinsam commented that with the Entrepreneurship Development Forum, “Everyone was telling me I should be charging people, charging a participants fee. But that takes away from the reason why I’m doing the forum. As long as expenses are covered, and participants can come for a minimal fee, then I’m happy. And for a lot of people, that’s stupid. But I’m a social entrepreneur, not an entrepreneur.” After six years in the private sector, Raj passed up an offer of a lucrative promotion and left the private sector in order to work full-time as the Executive Director of Meal Exchange.
A key characteristic of social entrepreneurs is not allowing a lack of initial resources to limit action, and this group decidedly possessed this characteristic. When asked during the interviews if they had all their resources in place before taking action, all responded in the negative, and most just laughed before responding ‘far from it’ or more colourfully, ‘hell, no.’ Correspondingly, they exhibited a high level of comfort with uncertainty, with all ranking themselves between somewhat or very comfortable with uncertainty.
The literature also notes that social entrepreneurs, like their economic counterparts, focus strongly on vision and opportunity and use this in turn to encourage others to help turn this vision into a reality. Again, this group of social entrepreneurs validated the existing research in this area. As noted above, they were all articulate and charismatic communicators, and each exhibited a high degree of commitment to (and passion for) their ventures. All indicated they’d had good success in convincing others to share and participate in their vision. Most respondents noted the importance of having a clear vision and communicating it effectively and recognizing that even good ideas need to be ‘sold’ effectively. As Chinsam noted, “…people don’t just give you money. You have to go out there and sell your organization and sell yourself and your idea. But they’ll also want to know ‘what’s in it for me?’”
The literature and respondents both identified the importance of environments that encourage creativity and openness to risk. However, it was also noted that these types of environments also need to allow for mistakes, an inherent part of innovation. Several of the respondents credited the strength of the ventures for attracting the attention of others. For example, Godsall commented: “I think that Santropol Roulant was like a wind-up toy. And we wound it up and it started moving and people just couldn’t keep their eyes off it and they wanted to be a part of it. I mean within the first year we were nominated for a Peter F. Drucker award for non-profit innovation…because people were fascinated by the relationships. So Keith and I were really lucky that we found something that interested us but also interested others, and that was relevant to our community, and probably the whole country.”
Another key factor in convincing others to participate in socially entrepreneurial ventures was the passion, enthusiasm and commitment of the social entrepreneur. Ouchterlony attributed his success to being able to communicate effectively and “…going beyond the economic return on investment and inspiring and motivating people to become involved based on the ideology and the practicality and the mission more so than the economics.” He also noted that “major enthusiasm” helped in this goal.
The commitment to a social mission, coupled with a willingness to take financial risks was demonstrated clearly by these young social entrepreneurs. Raj demonstrated his commitment to Meal Exchange during a time when his organization was facing a severe funding challenge: “Fortunately I had the luxury of having a day job so I secured on one day a $30,000 line of credit from TD and a $30,000 line of credit from Canada Trust and away we went.” Chinsam noted that while she eventually found the funding to offset the costs of the first Yes Youth Can Entrepreneurial Development Forum via partnerships, if necessary she would have “…taken the funding out of my personal bank account” to hold the event. She also noted during the interview that “HumanityLink does not pay my bills. If anything, I work to pay my HumanityLink bills!”
Finally, a defining characteristic of social entrepreneurs is their ability to complement their entrepreneurial skills with a high capacity for collaboration. All respondents noted that networking with others sharing similar goals (linking social and economic goals) was something they did, although the responses on a 5-point scale were somewhat varied. Four of the respondents rated it as ‘somewhat or very important.’ Of the other two, one expected it to become more important in the future as the organization grew, and the other noted that while it was something they did, their venture would have occurred with or without this networking. Godsall notes that “…when you’re a social entrepreneur you do a lot of reporting, but you don’t necessarily get a lot of support. So the networks become a source of support.”
With respect to mentorship the responses were similar. All respondents indicated some experience with mentorship over the course of their experience implementing socially entrepreneurial ventures, with respondents noting that this mentorship involved a variety of individuals and changed over time according to organizational and personal need(s) and requirements. As one respondent noted, social entrepreneurs are characterized by their interest in creating something that didn’t previously exist, and as such the traditional mentorship model (having a mentor who has already travelled the same path) doesn’t work. This factor likely contributes to the prevalence of multiple mentors noted by respondents, rather than one or two key individuals. Most respondents indicated that mentors played an important role in their initiative’s growth and development, but two noted that while mentorship was very helpful, they would have begun their ventures with or without this assistance. Again, this echoes the findings of the literature on social entrepreneurs (and entrepreneurship in general).
4.2 Synthesis of Results
While the findings above demonstrate a strong correlation between the research literature and the experiences of young Canadian social entrepreneurs, it doesn’t capture the whole picture. This section attempts to complement the findings above by highlighting other aspects of the experiences of the research respondents, including the challenges faced in undertaking dual-bottom line initiatives, the existing and potential supports identified by respondents, and the respondent’s commitment to community building through socially entrepreneurial initiatives.
While the young social entrepreneurs interviewed for this paper were all successful in the sense that they were able to get their ventures off the ground (and the majority had been in existence 5 years or longer), respondents identified several challenges in trying to simultaneously meet social and economic goals (and potentially environmental ones as well).
One prominent concern was around human resource issues, and the challenges inherent in attracting and retaining talented individuals with limited budgets, particularly within (but not limited to) organizations based in the not-for profit sector. One respondent noted the lack of affordable training available, in spite of the organization’s desire to ‘invest’ in training resources for the staff and volunteer base. Another respondent commented on having to ‘fight tooth and nail’ to convince a funding organization that it was a good strategy to raise the salary of their executive director to $35,000/year. Godsall commented when trying to attract talented individuals to socially entrepreneurial ventures “…you should never have to ask them to make [large] sacrifices.” While all of the not-for-profit organizations have mobilized significant volunteer resources, three of the respondents made reference to the limitations of relying on volunteer labour as volunteers often juggled multiple commitments. One respondent noted that while profit maximization wasn’t the overriding goal of his enterprise, working towards a dual- or triple-bottom line made it far more difficult to make money and thus sustain the organization and its employees.
A second issue raised by social entrepreneurs in the not-for-profit sector was the need for funding that accommodates the risks inherent in employing innovative (and therefore untested) strategies for addressing social challenges. One respondent suggested that seed funding working on a venture capital model would be helpful. In other words, a fund that might invest $1,000 each in 10 innovative ideas, recognizing that majority might fail, but the ones that succeed will likely have a high social and/or economic payoff. In addition to the lack of funding to support socially entrepreneurial approaches (compared to the resources and funding available for small-business start-ups) many of the young entrepreneurs noted the challenges either they or their organizations faced in being perceived as ‘credible’ due to their youth. While this is a challenge faced by young entrepreneurs in general, it is yet another challenge for social entrepreneurs who are breaking new ground harnessing social and economic goals.
On a related topic, several respondent commented directly or indirectly about the impacts of the structural barriers that exist between the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, and the challenges this presented for social entrepreneurs. For example, in searching for seed funding to support the training of Youth One volunteers to deliver IT training within the not-for-profit sector, Wong told the story of one funding organization that thought the idea had merit, but which provided funding to private sector initiatives only, and not those in the not-for-profit sector.
Related to the youth factor is the challenge young social entrepreneurs identified with respect to lacking access to both capital and networks until their organizations had some proven degree of success. Chinsam noted the difficulty in finding partners for her Entrepreneurial Development Forums until she had proven their viability by running two successfully. Other respondents noted similar challenges in the early stages of their organization’s development.
Finally, a lack of evaluation mechanisms for gauging organizational effectiveness was a factor noted by several respondents, who indicated that traditional mechanisms for evaluating return on investment (ROI) were often not relevant to their organizational goals and priorities. However, it was difficult to find measurement tools to evaluate social and/or environmental ROI, and far too expensive and/or time consuming to attempt to develop these on their own.
Although these young social entrepreneurs identified several challenges encountered in their experiences and practice, they also identified some supports – either those that were in place and were helpful, or those that they wish would have been in place when they were starting their ventures. In particular, about half the respondents indicated they’d received some guidance and/or support from organizations set up to help support young entrepreneurs. Some of the respondents made reference to support (financial and otherwise) they’d received from the McConnell foundation, while others had participated in various programs supporting the growth and development of entrepreneurial organizations (e.g., the Community Opportunity and Innovation Network in Peterborough, and the ‘Open for Business’ program run through the Centre for Education and Entrepreneurial Development section of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)). One respondent also noted the importance of small organizations partnering with, or nesting within, larger organizations.
Almost all indicated the difficulty of efficiently and effectively tracking ‘performance indicators’ for their organizations, and would appreciate more support in this area, either in customizing existing tools or in the creation of performance measurement guides for dual-bottom line initiatives. On a related note, the issue of affordable training was also raised, including materials such as ‘best practice’ guides for socially entrepreneurial ventures.
In spite of the considerable challenges faced, and the corresponding lack of supports for young social entrepreneurs in Canada, all of the respondents appears committed to combining social and economic goals in their initiatives. The following quotes highlight both the responsibility these young entrepreneurs feel towards their local communities and the depth of their commitment to meeting dual-bottom lines through their enterprise development.
“I think every organization, every entity in our community has a responsibility for the community they take part in, and it would be irresponsible for them NOT to have a socially-oriented position…..Because our mandate is to connect youth to resources, build their community. And hopefully with a stronger and healthier community people are going to take more action to initiate their own ideas…. We want to expose youth to social goals, and have them start thinking about these goals. Because a lot of these young people will become business leaders.” (Leo Wong, Youth One)
“Frankly, the social world just needs it. I mean, I’m not that old, but even in my lifetime I haven’t seen significant progress made to address social issues. And often we look toward the government to address these things, and they’re just riddled with bureaucracy. So when you need to get something done you just do it…. Individuals are brilliant. They know what to do to help their own people. They just don’t have the resources to do it. If you can help them, you will be successful.” (Rahul Raj, Meal Exchange)
“I just feel the two [social and economic goals] go hand in hand and that people need to take responsibility for their actions.” (Natalie Chinsam, HumanityLink International)
“I hope that we can show other people that its possible to integrate something that is good for the community and good for the environment and that you can make a living at it. …in a broader sense, we understand the integration of community and the business and the environment and how they’re all interdependent.” (Simon Boone, Generation Solar)
“It only makes sense. It’s a community we live in, we don’t live in a sterile world where everything is all business and there is no return, there’s no cause to the effect. I think that believing that will only get the world in deeper trouble than it’s already in.” (Geordie Ouchterlony, Home Grown Organic Foods)
“How can this community consider itself safe and successful if young people don’t feel as hopeful as they should, or in some cases aren’t hopeful, and how can you define this community as safe and secure if older people don’t feel important? We found it depressing, and at the same time, here was something we could do that was so easy, and that actually begins the exploit the best characteristics of young people , what young people bring to the table – lots of energy, a desire to learn, these kinds of things.” (Chris Godsall, Santropol Roulant).
4.3 Social Entrepreneurship as Community Economic Development
There is some irony in the resistance to social entrepreneurship in Canada, as there is significant conceptual overlap between social entrepreneurship and certain types of community economic development (CED), a well established field with many active supporters. As noted in the preface to this paper, this research was sparked by a comment from one such supporter who noted that within the field of CED, initiatives with an entrepreneurial component shared many characteristics of the CCSE’s definition of social entrepreneurship. In particular, many CED projects feature multi-functional community strategies (somewhat similar to the multi-sectoral approaches of social entrepreneurship), and an emphasis on specifically integrating or merging social and economic goals (Perry, 1999).
There are many intersections between social entrepreneurship, with their emphasis on creating collaborative cross-sectoral approaches and developing innovative local-level approaches for addressing entrenched social problems. Examining social entrepreneurship through the lens of community economic development further may help to provide some useful insights into the practical and theoretical development in this emerging area. In addition, the community economic development literature may also supplement the existing social entrepreneurship literature on the topic of ‘constraints and challenges’ faced by those employing entrepreneurial approaches to address social issues.
While CED can include virtually any activity that can be seen locally as contributing to community improvement, it always includes some form of business development opportunity. The same holds true for socially entrepreneurial initiatives; while they contribute to community improvement in a wide variety of ways, each has some form of enterprise as a hallmark of its entrepreneurial roots. Perry (1999) goes on to note that in the field of CED “…business development is expected to result not only in ownership opportunities and profits, but also in some wider social benefits” (p. 21, italics added). Again, this very clearly overlaps with the hybrid social/economic approach of social entrepreneurship.
CED practitioners recognize that successful business enterprises depend on more than just financial capital. “Businesses are also beholden to others, to their communities, not just to their financial investors. Indeed, businesses have stakeholders as well as shareholders” (Ninacs, 1998, p. 19). In both CED and social entrepreneurship, enterprises recognize the need to attempt to ensure a good return of stakeholder investment as well as shareholder investment. It is also worth noting that small business is the main (but not exclusive) focus of both CED and social entrepreneurship.
In addition to sharing some similar core characteristics, those venturing into the area of dual-bottom line enterprises also face similar challenges. For example, business planning guides are not concerned with non-traditional business issues such as ‘stakeholder return on investment’ (ROI) and community benefits (Ninacs, 1998).
5.0 IMPLICATIONS AND CLOSURE
5.1 Fostering Social Entrepreneurship In Canada
The mission of the CCSE is to support and foster social entrepreneurship in Canada. But supporting socially entrepreneurial initiatives at a national level will require more than the leadership of one small organization. Ultimately, it is an area that will require leadership from the public and private sector, as well as from business schools across the country. For the purposes of this research there are essentially two groups of young social entrepreneurs: those who are already active in this area, and latent social entrepreneurs – those with an interest in employing an entrepreneurial approach to meet social goals, but who have not taken concrete steps towards starting an initiative.
The six young entrepreneurs interviewed during the course of this research exemplify the active social entrepreneur. While they identified many challenges to conducting socially entrepreneurial ventures in Canada, each found ways to overcome these barriers and succeed in their chosen mission. As noted earlier in this paper, practicing social entrepreneurs tend to possess a set of characteristics that are exceptional. While it is likely these individuals would have succeeded no matter what supports were in place, all noted challenges in their work, and identified supports that did (or could) have made it easier to accomplish a dual-bottom line goal.
In addition, it stands to reason that there is a group of latent Nexus generation social entrepreneurs waiting to emerge if the conditions are right. These individuals have the potential to make significant economic and social contributions within Canada, but may need a little support and encouragement to start them on their social entrepreneurship journey. It was also indicated that highlighting the work of existing young social entrepreneurs (e.g., through the creation of case studies or via the media) would provide visible models of alternative approaches to the traditional division between economic and social goals.
Respondents interviewed for this research highlighted the need for supports in the area of human resources, including affordable training relevant to organizational growth and team-building in general, as well as to specific aspects of socially entrepreneurial ventures (e.g., accounting issues faced by dual- or triple-bottom line initiatives). Also noted was the need to compensate those involved with socially entrepreneurial ventures in ways that do not require significant sacrifice at the individual level. In other words, to create an environment where individuals can ‘do well by doing good.’
Young social entrepreneurs need many of the same supports that any young entrepreneur would need, but with a twist. For example, all entrepreneurial ventures typically need evaluation tools and ways to measure performance. But social entrepreneurs face the additional challenges of attempting to measure effects such as social and/or environmental return on investment which are difficult to quantify. In addition, the young entrepreneurs interviewed for this paper noted a lack of existing tools for measuring socially entrepreneurial performance and the lack of time and resources to customize existing measurement instruments. Without these tools, it is difficult to evaluate the impact socially entrepreneurial organizations are making. One respondent noted that access to short and concise summaries of best practices in social entrepreneurship would be very useful.
Young social entrepreneurs face many of the other challenges that young entrepreneurs face in general: lack of access to networks providing social and economic capital; lack of business experience; and difficulties being perceived as ‘credible’ by those older and more experienced. While there are many programs in the public, private and not-for-profit sector fostering the identification and support of young entrepreneurs, there are no similar programs in Canada dedicated to fostering young social entrepreneurs, in spite of the potentially significant impact this group could make.
Given the lack of existing research, both on Canadian social entrepreneurship and on young social entrepreneurs, this is a rich area for further research. This could include, but should not be limited to: the development of social entrepreneurship case studies for use in Canadian business schools; development of a ‘tool-kit’ for Canadian social entrepreneurs, including relevant evaluation and performance measurement tools; and more broadly, research on the general and specific issues affecting young social entrepreneurs (and the practice of social entrepreneurship) in Canada.
Research indicates that the Nexus generation (Canadians aged 18-35) are open to, and looking for, hybrid models of development to combine social and economic goals. Finding ways support and foster active and latent social entrepreneurship within this group is a significant and worthwhile task, as members of this generation are poised to become the next generation of Canadian social, economic and civic leaders. It is hoped the findings of the pilot research project conducted for this paper provide a starting point for further discussion in the emerging and important area.
The final words in this paper come from Rahul Raj, who at the age of 27 has already has a decade’s worth of experience in social entrepreneurship. Asked what advice he would give others wanting to undertake a socially entrepreneurial venture, he said: “They have to believe in it to the nth degree and not only them, but also their support network – their family, their spouse, their friends. Everyone has to be in, because it is really hard. [Compared to working in the private sector] the same luxuries aren’t there, it’s not a glamorous position. The pay is not high. And you work the same amount if not more. So there just has to be this ridiculous level of commitment. So be sure. Very sure.….if new people are starting (socially entrepreneurial) ventures up, and they get a whole bunch of buy-in from the for-profit sector, and the not-for-profit sector, and they change their mind, they’ve just given the social entrepreneurship community a bad name. We don’t have the luxury of having people bail, because we’re trying to change perceptions.” Does he have any regrets about the path he’s chosen? “Not one…Not one.”
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Appendix A: Interview Questions
1) Characteristics of the Firm:
a) How long has this organization/company been in existence?
b) How many principals does the organization/company have?
c) What was the age of the principals when the organization/company began?
d) Could you briefly describe the leadership structure of the company?
e) What is the mission statement of the organization/company?
f) How many employees does the organization/company currently have?
g) How many volunteers does the organization/company currently have?
h) Where is organization/company located?
i) Do you have plans to expand to any other locations in the next 2 years?
j) What is annual revenue of the company/annual budget of the organization?
a. Under $50,000
b. $50,000 – 150,000
c. $150,000 – 250,000
d. Over $250,000?
2 Social Entrepreneurs:
a) Had you been involved with other entrepreneurial activities before this?
a. If so, can you provide some details?
b) Why did you choose an entrepreneurial approach in this situation?
c) Why did you choose to incorporate a social/environmental goal into your initiative?
d) How comfortable are you with uncertainty (on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being not comfortable at all and 5 being very comfortable)?
e) Did you have all the resources in place to start this initiative before taking action?
f) Have you been successful in convincing others to participate in this initiative?
a. If yes, how?
b. If no, why not?
g) Do you network with others interested in combining social and economic goals?
a. If yes, how important is this to you (on a scale of 1 – 5 with 1 being not important and 5 being very important)?
b. If no, is there a reason for this?
h) Do you have a mentor for this initiative?
a. If yes, who and how did you find this person?
b. If yes, how important do you think your mentor has been (on a scale from 1-5 with 1 being not important, and 5 being very important)?
c. If no, do you wish you had one?
i) Have you ever heard the term social entrepreneur?
a. If yes, do you consider yourself one and why?
b. If no, why not?
Social Entrepreneurship/Community Economic Development:
a) Assuming that your organization/company is successful in the way you want it to be, what will the social and/or environmental impact be?
b) Again, assuming your company/organization is successful, can you identify those who will benefit from this success?
c) What are your contributions to your local community through this initiative?
d) What do you consider the biggest challenges in incorporating social and/or environmental goals into an entrepreneurial initiative?
e) What has been most helpful to you in this process of combining economic and social/environmental goals?
f) What supports would have helped you in using an entrepreneurial approach with a dual bottom line?
g) What advice would you have for others undertaking this type of approach?
Appendix B: List of Research Participants
Simon Boone, Founder and Principal
Generation Solar (www.generationsolar.com)
“Generation Solar are leaders in the field of sustainable energy solutions. We conduct business in a socially and environmentally responsible manner while exceeding applicable regulations. We improve the quality of life for our clients, employees, and community, both locally and globally.”
Natalie Chinsam, Founder and Director
HumanityLink International (www.humanitylink.org)
“HumanityLink International focuses on providing assistance to enhance the lives and opportunities for those in need in the greater Toronto area and in the developing regions of the Americas and the Caribbean.” Initial projects include ‘Yes Youth Can’ Entrepreneurial Development For a in Toronto and Newfoundland.
Chris Godsall, Founder and Advisor
Santropol Roulant (www.santropolroulant.org)
“Santropol Roulant is a Montreal-based, not-for-profit organization founded and run by young people in the community. We bring people together across generations and cultures through our innovative meals-on-wheels service, our intergenerational activities and volunteer programs. Santropol Roulant uses food as a vehicle to break social and economic isolation between generations and to strengthen and nourish our local community. We engage a diversity of people to take an active role in their communities through initiatives that address the health and food security needs of seniors and Montrealers living with a loss of autonomy.”
Geordie Ouchterlony, Founder and Principal
Home Grown Organic Foods (www.hgof.ns.ca)
“Home Grown Organic Foods is a locally owned business dedicated towards satisfying the growing demand for healthy, locally grown, affordable and ecologically sustainable organic food. We offer an efficient and cost-effective home delivery service of fresh organic fruits and vegetables every week.”.
Rahul Raj, Founder and Executive Director
Meal Exchange (www.mealexchange.com)
“The mission of Meal Exchange is to promote student civic engagement through the development of solutions to hunger in Canada.. Meal Exchange is a student-focused charity and a simple idea. On-campus volunteer student co-ordinators facilitate donations through each university's Food Service organization. Students simply choose to donate to Meal Exchange at their residence café or dining hall. Donated points are accumulated and valued, while the coordinator determines which products are most in need by local food banks and agencies. Student volunteers then distribute the goods.”
Leo Wong, Founder and Advisor
Youth One (www.youthone.com)
“To foster, build, foster and strengthen the youth community so that young people can pursue their dreams without being restricted by social barriers. We’re looking at building connections between all the available resources out there so that youth have a better ability to find out about these resources. This idea began when I was in high school, out of the frustration I saw in a lot of young people, not know that information and services were out there.”