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A New Kind of Business

Rick Kirschner
BY Rick Kirschner
(1 Vote)

Did you know that the CKOS radio license, that station known as 91.1 The Bridge, is owned by a registered Canadian Charity? And did you know that as a charity all the profits go back to the needs of the community as outlined in their articles of incorporation?  This is just one example of a new breed of business emerging in North America called a social enterprise.

Wikipedia defines social enterprise as an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being—this may include maximizing social impact alongside profits for external shareholders.

Now businesses helping a charity is not a new concept; there are many benevolent businesses that have supported charities very well for years and we, among others, are very thankful for their generosity.  Social enterprise is not businesses sharing part of their profits to support great causes. Social enterprise is businesses designed to meet some social need and make money itself so as not to be always leaning on businesses, government and the public at large to sustain itself. In our case, the full-scale commercial radio station 91.1 The Bridge is a social enterprise that provides a legitimate community service and makes money at the same time. The good news is, all our profit goes back into our organization or to providing support to further the work of other Social profits making a difference in our community. Our profit, when there is some, does not go into the hands of private shareholders but into advancing our mission which is to reach, build and activate others to make a difference in the world.

The concept of social enterprise is gaining momentum globally and here in Canada too. In fact, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has developed a social procurement policy which governs the process of awarding contracts in the RMWB. Now, when applying for contacts, those companies that have a solid plan on how their organization is helping the local community may be considered a preferred vendor or service provider if all other requirements are met equally in the tender by other competing companies. This is great news and it goes beyond just writing a big cheque. Companies which use their strength to legitimately better the community or its citizens add much more value to our region than simply money.


Social innovation:

According to the Social Innovation Primer produced by Social Innovation Generation Canada at Waterloo University, “Social innovation is about new ideas that work to address pressing unmet needs. Poverty, homelessness, and violence are all examples of social problems that still need dedicated solution-seeking space. Social innovation addresses these challenges by applying new learning and strategies to solve these problems. For social innovations to be successful and have durability, the innovation should have a measurable impact on the broader social, political and economic context that created the problem in the first place.”

 I am personally excited to see the acceleration of social innovation in our community thanks in part to the Social Prosperity Initiative which over the last 6 years engaged diverse community stakeholders in conversations relating to the social prosperity of the region. A new way of thinking is emerging in our community which is causing leaders to cross disciplines and sectors to collaborate on solutions to critical issues and create a collective impact which would have never been possible by any one individual or group. I believe our best days are ahead of us and there is a tremendous opportunity if leaders would rise and commit to this community and the potential we have to yet to tap in to.

The business sector is changing and rethinking its approach to community and when it does, profits and dividends will follow.  

So, 91.1 The Bridge is here to help you help your community. Give us a call and let’s work together to help your business grow and leave a legacy in this region which will last for years.