A social enterprise is a non-profit business that has a focus on solving problems in the communities they operate in. It's helpful to think of social enterprises as problem solvers.
First Nation Reconciliation has to include rebuilding local economies. Problem solvers such as social enterprises, social entrepreneurs and the small farm movement are demonstrating we can tackle society's most stubborn problems affordably.
For more information on reconciliation and the solutions economy, check out An Army of Problem Solvers. The latest book from Aki Energy co founder Shaun Loney.
Here are a few examples from successful Manitoba social enterprise businesses operating today:
PROBLEM: Winnipeg's North End is a low income, predominantly Aboriginal community with high rates of unemployment and very low access to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate foods.
SOCIAL ENTERPRISE SOLUTION: Neechi Foods is an Aboriginal Social Enterprise grocery store and community space that first began operations in 1990. Neechi Foods operates as a workers cooperative, providing local employment opportunities and healthy, low cost foods to the North End community.
PROBLEM: High unemployment in Winnipeg's North End contributes to high rates of gang violence, crime and prison recidivism (re- offence). In addition, low income housing in Winnipeg's North End is often uninsulated, leading to very high utility bills.
SOCIAL ENTERPRISE SOLUTION: BUILD Inc. works to address both of these problems by providing trades training people with multiple barriers to employment - criminal records, gang involvement, no drivers licences. BUILD trains people to insulate low income houses and provide apartment maintenance services within Manitoba Housing units.