What is social enterprise?

We define social enterprise as:

  •  An entity that has an embedded mission to achieve social, cultural or environmental aims through the sale of goods and services.
  • At least 50% of the business’ revenue comes from selling goods and/or services in the marketplace
  • At least 50% of the business' profits go back into executing its social, cultural or environmental mission

Our definition aligns closely with the definition of the Canadian federal government.

Social Enterprise 101: Check out this informative video from our friends at Common Good Solutions!

What's an example of a social enterprise?

Social enterprises exist in almost every sector in communities across Canada, supporting diverse cultural, social, and environmental missions. Some examples of sectors include consumer goods, food and beverage, management consulting, healthcare, construction, and building maintenance services. 


East Van Roasters is a cafe and social enterprise of the PHS Community Services Society located in Vancouver, BC. It sells organic ‘bean to bar’ chocolate and coffee roasted and prepared on site. East Van Roasters encourages women re-entering the workforce through mentorship-based programming and on-the-job training. The profits from the sales at the cafe are used to support this programming through PHS Community Services Society.

View more examples of social enterprises in our directory of certified social enterprises

Where can I learn more?

Still curious about social enterprise? Visit the links below to learn more.

Learn about social procurement here.