A ‘social enterprise’ is a business involved in the production and or selling of goods and services for the blended purpose of generating income and achieving social, cultural, or environmental aims.
The Ontario Government has recently announced a new $4 million dollar fund that aims to tackle a variety of social issues, including mental health and addictions, through social enterprise. The Social Enterprise Demonstration Fund will support 11 social finance organizations across the province. In turn, these organizations will provide loans or grants to early-stage social enterprises, helping them begin or grow their businesses.
The fund aims to support projects that address Ontario’s most pressing social and environmental issues. In particular, issues facing newcomers, Aboriginal people, persons with disabilities, and those with mental health or addiction challenges. These individuals can face a multitude of barriers in accessing traditional job markets linked to their mental or physical health challenges.
One of the 11 organizations receiving funding is Rise Asset Management. With start-up support from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and Rotman School of Management, Rise provides microfinancing, business training and mentorship to entrepreneurs living with mental illness and/or addictions or experience in the criminal justice system. They currently operate in four Ontario cities: London, Ottawa, Kingston and Windsor.
Rise has already provided loans to 22 people, who have started companies ranging from an Internet business to a general contracting company. In an interview with the Windsor Star, a Rise-funded entrepreneur said that the program is, “reframing the way people look at work. It’s an opportunity to still work and feel like you’re contributing to society.”
For more information about Rise Asset Management’s programs, visit their website.