B.C. Gov Fosters Social Innovation
B.C. Gov Fosters Social Innovation
It was working as a social worker, parole officer and mayor that helped Gordon Hogg see the distinction between the delivery of social programs and approaches taken by the business world.
The MLA for Surrey-White Rock also knows the difficult fiscal environment governments are operating in. With less revenue, the government’s ability to deal with what seem to be intractable social and environmental challenges is becoming more problematic.
Two years ago, this confluence of a social sector lagging in innovation and decreasing government revenue motivated Gordon to speak with B.C. Premier Christy Clark about the possibility of the provincial government taking an active lead in promoting social innovation as a way forward.
“We need to look at how we can maximize the potential that exists in this province,” recalls Gordon on why he wanted the government to promote social innovation.
Since then, the B.C. government has become a champion for social innovation, including appointing Gordon to be the province’s first parliamentary secretary for social entrepreneurship and creating a B.C. Social Innovation Council, which featured representatives from business, government and community.
The combination of a government fostering opportunities for collaboration and a highly entrepreneurial social innovation community is resulting in some creative approaches in B.C.
For example, last week B.C. was the first province and the second government in the world to establish Community Contribution Companies. The model fits in-between a non-profit and a regular business, and is anticipated to help non-profits adopt more entrepreneurial practices while ensuring their social mission is not comprised.
Last fall, the entire province was encouraged to join the inaugural BC Ideas. The competition asked non-profits, social entrepreneurs and communities to come up with innovative solutions to health, social and environmental challenges. Using the Ashoka Changemakers platform, the contest received 466 entries from 82 communities.
The government provided $30,000 in initial funding for BC Ideas with contest partners leveraging this into $270,000 for prizes and investments from business and community foundations.
To implement the 11 recommendations made by the B.C. Social Innovation Council, the government recently establishment B.C. Partners for Social Impact.
As a result of these initiatives, Gordon says the province is demonstrating what can happen when the best resources come together to make positive change.
“It’s a more creative way to address and use the resources of the whole community,” says Gordon, on the approach being taken.
“It’s social providers, it’s business (with) government providing the platform. We need all three of these to ensure that we move forward in an active and creative way.”
And it seems to be working. A recent report from the Ontario Auditor General recommended Ontario look to the social enterprise initiatives happening in B.C.
“We really have been seen as being on the forefront across Canada, and of leading Canada in the development of this,” says Gordon.
“And that’s not just government, that’s primarily because of the great social entrepreneurs and innovators that we have in this province.”
— More to Come
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Camille Jensen is an employee share ownership consultant with ESOP Builders, Canada’s largest provider of employee share ownership plans (ESOPs) for small- and medium-sized enterprises.
Prior to joining ESOP Builders, Camille was a generative journalist and team member at Axiom News. She credits her time at Axiom as fundamental to her understanding that business is one of the best opportunities to make a difference in the world.
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