Canada’s first social procurement consulting company celebrates 10 years of championing economic and social impact

Jun 13th, 2024

Since 2014, Buy Social Canada has helped corporations and governments realize the power of purchasing to deliver social outcomes.

Vancouver, June 13, 2024 – Buy Social Canada, a national social enterprise that champions social procurement and supports social enterprises, is celebrating its 10th anniversary on June 14, 2024.

Buy Social Canada is forging a future that creates best value for communities and addresses labour market challenges to build an inclusive economy. This work has been driven by the founder, David LePage, and current co-leaders CEO Elizabeth Chick Blount and COO Tori Williamson. LePage was a long-time visionary leader who passed away earlier this year, shortly after retiring.

With LePage’s extensive experience in social enterprise advocacy and Chick-Blount and Williamson’s passion and drive for systemic change, Buy Social Canada grew into the organization it is today, providing consulting and training to corporate and government purchasers implementing social procurement policies and action plans.

“The culture around social procurement has changed significantly over the past decade, and we owe a debt of gratitude to David LePage for his role in advancing that change. Social procurement is no longer a nice to have, it has become a requirement for businesses to validate their social impact claims.” – Elizabeth Chick Blount, Buy Social Canada CEO

In partnership with its clients, Buy Social Canada has seen significant growth in social procurement strategies in key sectors including commercial construction, healthcare, tourism, and events.

Buy Social Canada’s impact can be seen in the construction sector, which faces significant labour shortages. Construction companies across Canada have turned to social procurement as a strategy to diversify the talent pool. In 2022 Buy Social Canada was engaged by Delnor Construction Managers to develop and activate a social procurement policy across several construction projects including on the City of Edmonton-owned kihcihkaw askî (Sacred Land) project where seven out of 20 subcontractors Delnor had on site were Indigenous businesses and 15 out of 28 workers identified as Indigenous. Delnor CEO Glenn Cyrankiewicz shared more about the role of social procurement in this project in a short video.

“We’re enthusiastic about this [social procurement] and grateful for the help we’ve had from Buy Social Canada, and from our clients who push this initiative through in their own projects.” – Jason Deboski, Delnor Construction corporate project development manager

To further its impact in the construction sector, Buy Social Canada has entered a new partnership with Énska Advisors, co-founded by Tim Coldwell and Wes Hall, to support their mission to optimize real estate supply chains to “nurture our planet and build an inclusive society.”

In addition to supporting purchasers to achieve social goals, Buy Social Canada advances social procurement as a tool to support small businesses and social enterprises.

In a 2023 survey of Certified Social Enterprises conducted by Buy Social Canada, 88% of social enterprises were either micro (1-9 employees) or small (10-99 employees) businesses, and 88% were also incorporated as non-profits.

Purpose Construction is a Buy Social Canada Certified Social Enterprise that takes on construction contracts and clients while providing trades training to employees who face barriers to traditional employment, including Indigenous people and newcomers and refugees.

“Our base of operations is a major social procurement agreement with Manitoba Housing,” Purpose Construction Executive Director Kalen Taylor explains. This $2 million annual contract comprises of apartment turnovers and upgrades, and “is really important to us,” says Taylor.

Buy Social Canada is committed to continuing to support purchasers to implement social procurement and create demand for social enterprise, but more action is still needed.

“In the next decade, communities across Canada will continue to be challenged with complex and compounding issues. Social procurement has shown that it is and will continue to be a tangible solution that prioritizes community well-being over extraction and exploitation.” – Tori Williamson, Buy Social Canada COO

Buy Social Canada has used advocacy, consulting, and training to grow a social procurement policy groundwork across many municipalities, institutions, corporations, and the federal government to work towards tangible social value outcomes. Buy Social Canada expects to see more social enterprises contracting with government, more inclusive employment on construction and infrastructure projects, and more public reporting of these outcomes.

As social procurement practices develop and become more widespread, the Buy Social Canada team looks forward to continuing to support purchasers make their dollars work towards community goals.

Words of thanks from our community

“Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada congratulates Buy Social Canada for their decade of leadership and action to bring positive change to the marketplace. Social procurement is an important policy tool and approach that leverages the money we already spend as individuals, organisations, businesses, and governments to better use. When you put co-operatives and social enterprises at the centre of your purchasing decisions, you help to create healthy communities.”

– Daniel Brunette, Senior director of external affairs, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada

“We’re such big fans of social enterprises and Buy Social Canada. We know from our research that small businesses create more than four times the economic benefit of their multinational competitors. Social enterprises do that while also creating important social benefits. In today’s competitive economy, supporting small businesses that add social value is more important than ever. Congratulations to Buy Social Canada for advancing the movement for social enterprise procurement in Canada for the last 10 years! They’ve been such an important organization in educating about the benefits and helping to make connections between purchasing organizations and social enterprises.”

– Amy Robinson, Founder and executive director, LOCO BC

About Buy Social Canada

Buy Social Canada is a social enterprise that believes procurement is more than an economic transaction, it contributes to community social and economic goals. We work with community, private sector, and public sector to provide training, develop policy, and share resources. We offer a recognized, Canada-wide social enterprise certification that opens the door to our growing network of social purchasers. Through social procurement advocacy, education and consulting, we are taking back control from the invisible hand of capitalism.

About Social Enterprise

Social enterprises are businesses that sell goods or services, embed a social, cultural or environmental purpose into the business, and reinvest the majority of profits or surplus into their purpose. Buy Social Canada offers the only third-party social enterprise certification in Canada and has certified over 250 social enterprises since 2014.

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