Social Entrepreneurship: A Trend that is not about to go away!

September 2016

By Sophie Caudiu, CPA Auditor, CGA, Principal, Enterprise group

Social entrepreneurship has the wind in its sails! A tell-tale sign is the fact that a prestigious publication, Forbes magazine, has been publishing the Top 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs since 2012. More and more economic players are turning to these innovators and the number of initiatives to support them in Quebec, as well as in France, is growing.



Creating social value
What exactly is social entrepreneurship? This type of endeavour emerged in the 1990s and includes various economic initiatives aimed at achieving a social or environmental impact. It is the desired purpose that differentiates it from traditional entrepreneurship. While the traditional entrepreneur seeks to create value in the form of profits, the social entrepreneur tries to bring about change for the benefit of society as a whole. Therefore, although some social ventures also generate profits, their primary objective is still to provide social benefits.

Social entrepreneurs that think big
Another thing that many social entrepreneurs have in common is their desire to address global issues. That is the case of five McGill University students who founded the Aspire Food Group, the first venture to benefit from Richter Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship Program. Richter is helping them to achieve their objective of addressing malnutrition in the world by farming insects for human consumption. Aspire already has three insect farms in the U.S., Mexico and Ghana.

Social entrepreneurship in France
In France, there is continued interest in social entrepreneurship. The fourth edition of Forum Impact2 was held in Paris in April 2015 with the aim of bringing together social entrepreneurs and financiers of social projects. The event was organized by the Comptoir de l’Innovation, which manages close to 30 million euros in investments in approximately one hundred social ventures.

Social initiatives in Quebec
Initiatives aimed at supporting social entrepreneurship are also emerging in Quebec. Le Salon 1861 is a meeting place and a place of work, inaugurated in the fall of 2015, that allows social entrepreneurs to compare notes as well as speak with other social players.

The MaRS Centre for Impact Investing also held its first activity in Quebec, Impact8 Québec, which provides mentoring and support to eight social ventures that are booming. During the eight-week program, these ventures receive support from professionals in different areas up until the big day of meetings and networking sessions when they can present their pitch to potential investors. 

This is only the beginning…
Social entrepreneurship is clearly an underlying trend in our society. The younger generation is more aware of social and environmental problems in the world and is more committed than ever to deal with them. A number of universities wanted to address this generation’s appetite for social entrepreneurship. Duke University, the Kellogg School of Management, the Harvard School of Management and McGill University are but a few institutions that now offer training specifically for future social entrepreneurs. Now more committed and better trained than ever, they will surely surprise us in the years to come!

This article was originally published in Action Canada-France. 

Learn more: Marrying Social Entrepreneurship and Social Impact Real Estate Development

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About Richter
: Founded in Montreal in 1926, Richter is a licensed public accounting firm that provides assurance, tax and wealth management services, as well as financial advisory services in the areas of organizational restructuring and insolvency, business valuation, corporate finance, litigation support, and forensic accounting. Our commitment to excellence, our in-depth understanding of financial issues and our practical problem-solving methods have positioned us as one of the most important independent accounting, organizational advisory and consulting firms in the country. Richter has offices in both Toronto and Montreal. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.

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