Theresearch paper “Social Enterprises: Creating Jobs and Community Wellness One Small Business at a Time” was prepared by Samantha Shahmash (ISIS Research Centre, Sauder School of Business, UBC, Fall 2010) as part of the research program of the BC-Alberta Social Economy Research Alliance (BALTA). Financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is gratefully acknowledged.

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The social enterprise business model has become increasingly prevalent in recent years; in particular, many social enterprises in British Columbia (B.C.) have evolved with a social mission offering employment to people facing multiple, persistent barriers. The intent of this research is to contextualize the role that these social enterprises play in the B.C. economy by analyzing the barriers to employment, the specific managerial challenges that are associated with social enterprises, and the value that social enterprises provide to the people they employ and the greater community. The result of this analysis includes a set of concrete recommendations that aim to alleviate these barriers and provide an environment that is more conducive to the growth of social enterprises in B.C.

There are over 125,0002 individuals in B.C. with disabilities that hinder their ability to perform the full range of traditional workplace activities. These people are capable of working but face significant challenges such as developmental disabilities, mental illness, physical disabilities, addiction, communication and cultural barriers and have a long history of social assistance dependence. The multiple barriers these individuals encounter leave them lacking employment options that are supportive and accommodating. Furthermore, as a consequence of social stigma, lack of education, experience and basic needs, the confidence and self-awareness of these individuals is severely diminished. Those individuals who are on social assistance are faced with a financial disincentive of not wanting to work beyond the $500 monthly earnings exemption allowed. Every additional dollar worked beyond $500 is deducted directly from their social assistance, thereby creating no monetary net gain by working any additional hours. Most people with barriers do not have the means to obtain employment, let alone retain it. A result of these barriers is a lack of options and a 17% lower labour force participation rate than those without disabilities. …

For the full article, click here.

This paper has been produced as part of the research program of the BC-Alberta Social Economy Research Alliance (BALTA). Financial support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) is gratefully acknowledged.

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