A story from Building Up: How to purchase community value by doing business with a social enterprise

May 29th, 2023

Certified Social Enterprise Building Up

Building Up is a Toronto-based Certified Social Enterprise contracting company that supports persons facing barriers and prepares them for careers in the building trades. Building Up hires people who live in Toronto social housing and provides them a path to employment while offering general labour and renovation services to clients.

One of those clients is Toronto Community Housing. Toronto Community Housing wanted to increase their purchasing of construction and building maintenance services from Building Up, but there was a challenge to complete the contract. Getting the additional work crew and required materials to the work site required another van for transportation. 

At that time, Buy Social Canada was offering grants through our Seal the Deal Fund. Supported by the Investment Readiness Program (IRP), the Seal the Deal Fund awarded grants to social enterprises who needed financial support to respond to contract opportunities. After reviewing Building Up’s application, Buy Social Canada was able to provide 50% of the funds to help them purchase the necessary vehicle to take advantage of work from Toronto Community Housing.

From a procurement perspective, there were two transactions that happened here; first, Toronto Community Housing purchased construction services from Building Up. Second, Building Up, with Buy Social Canada’s support, purchased a van. 

Many housing entities purchase construction services. And lots of organizations purchase vans. But if we stopped there, we would only see the economic transaction that occurred. What was really purchased was the social value Building Up created.  The real value of the transaction was the social impact.

The ultimate purchase was more than an economic transaction. Toronto Community Housing’s choice to contract with Building Up meant the purchase created jobs that offer an intensive pre-apprenticeship trades training program for their residents who face barriers to employment, where 90% will move into apprenticeships and/or full-time employment.

‘Our goal at Building Up is to connect the work that most needs to get done to the people that most need the work. We are fortunate to have the support of a local public housing provider here in Toronto that cares about their residents and is willing to procure services from social enterprises like Building Up to help them build careers. This funding support from Seal the Deal, and the vehicle that came from it, put us in a position to take advantage of that commitment from TCHC and to maximize the impact we are here to create – improve the livability of affordable housing while supporting the career development of those living in it.’

Marc Soberano, Executive Director of Building Up

Every purchase from a social enterprise is a way to get the goods or services needed. But it’s also more than that. Every purchase from a social enterprise is also a way to build community value.

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