Columns: A social enterprise

ou may not be familiar with the term ‘social enterprise,’ but you’ve probably supported one.

You may not be familiar with the term ‘social enterprise,’ but you’ve probably supported one at some point in time. Social enterprises are businesses that are committed to making a difference in people’s lives and in finding innovative ways to help solve social, cultural, economic and environmental challenges.

This month B.C. celebrated Social Enterprise Month. Social enterprises throughout B.C. are making a difference in our communities and neighbourhoods each and every day.

Social enterprise ideas, unlike conventional business ideas, typically result from a desire to solve a social need; similar to how many non-profit and charity organizations find their beginning. They operate like a business, producing goods and services for sale and earning revenue.  They may range from farmers markets to jobs for those with disabilities, to thrift stores, to businesses that provide skills training or even affordable housing.

Social enterprises also address environmental issues, reduce poverty, provide services and products to underserved communities, and develop social and cultural capital – stimulating economic activity and revitalization.

In Cariboo North, the Xats’ull Heritage Village near Williams Lake is an example of a social enterprise. It provides Aboriginal themed tours where guests can overnight in pit houses and teepees, take an Aboriginal storytelling workshop or experience in an authentic sweat lodge. Xats’ull Heritage Village is creating jobs and economic opportunities for the Xats’ull First Nation while providing visitors an opportunity to experience First Nations culture first hand.

To learn more about all of the other social enterprises in our province, learn more about B.C.’s Social Innovation and Social Enterprise sector or find events and activities around B.C., visit: www.hubcapbc.ca/.

No single organization, government or business can solve society’s most difficult challenges on its own. I encourage each you to support your community social enterprises.

Coralee Oakes is the MLA for Cariboo North and is the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.