Canada and its commons:institutional support for a nascent social sector
Social enterprise may help address many social and environmental issues, but needs support from a strong funding market in order to flourish. This study seeks to understand how well public Canadian institutions are supporting the development of this “social finance” industry. An analysis of internal and external publications in two Canadian governmental bodies, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), shows an awareness of this sector which is not communicated in external publications. It demonstrates organizational activity relevant to the development of the social sector. This activity is currently un-directed towards the social sector when compared to a socially-directed comparison organization, Big Society Capital of the UK. Analysis of financial statements points to possible focus areas for ACOA and HRSDC in this space. ACOA’s familiarity with direct business services makes it well placed to shape the delivery of training and business education within the social sector. On the other hand, HRSDC is better positioned at a more “meso” level of activity given its history of funding bodies which themselves distribute resources. This indicates considerable ability to support an important diversity of mid-level and intermediary actors in the development of this marketplace.
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