A new report from the UBC Sauder Centre for Social Innovation and Impact Investing, conducted in partnership with the provincial government, has found the number of social ventures in British Columbia has grown by more than a third since 2010. Social ventures are organizations with business activities focused on social, environmental or cultural goals. UBC Sauder associate professor James Tansey, executive director of the centre and one of the project leads, explains the report’s findings and what the future holds for this burgeoning part of B.C.’s economy.
What’s the outlook for B.C.’s social ventures?
The sector has grown by 35 per cent since 2010, with earnings that exceed $500 million annually and together employ more than 13,000 people.
B.C. is rapidly becoming a hot spot for social enterprise, as we saw excellent growth rates across the board. The pool of capital available is growing, largely thanks to more interest from investors who want to make more of an impact with their money.
Why are more people choosing to work for social ventures?
Part of it comes down to demographics. The millennial generation is becoming a major part of the workforce, and many of them want to make more of a positive impact in their careers, and use the tools of business to effect social and environmental change. I’m seeing that more and more with my business students. And another part of the equation is more people are recognizing that the work they already do is aligned with the definition of a social venture – there’s a growing awareness of what a social venture is, which is very important for its continued growth to attract investors, customers and workers.
What can help the sector grow further?
There have been some helpful policy changes by government, including changes to tax rules and the establishment of Community Contribution Companies as a recognized corporate model. I would certainly like to see interest from governments in social enterprise continue to grow.
It’s also paramount that business schools tie social ventures more into curricula, as today’s graduate and undergraduate students want more exposure to these issues. It’s a critical time to introduce students to the business models employed by social ventures. Business schools should offer more specialized courses for the students most passionate about social enterprise, as well as opportunities to work directly with social ventures. We’ve shown in the report that it’s not a fringe sector any more – it’s a major part of the economy – so we should be training our students to be more aware of its impact.
The report, “B.C. Social Venture Sector Labour Market Study, 2015” is available here.
For more information from the provincial government, click here.