SOCIAL ENTERPRISES: Giving Communities a Hand


Helping Hands. Image Creative Commons > @Iowa_Spirit_Walker

We’re big advocates of driving change by being the change. That’s why we are big fans of social enterprises. Specifically, we’d like to bring to light a wonderful organization that we’ve been fortunate to work with: Helping Hands Rewards.

Social enterprises put a spin on traditional revenue-generating businesses. On the surface, they operate like any other business, applying commercial strategies to maximize revenue and promote their brand. But unlike other companies, social enterprises are run by either nonprofit organizations or for-profit companies with the intention of earning revenue for the sole purpose of improving social and environmental standards.

In short, social enterprises prioritize improving human and environmental well-being as opposed to increasing shareholder profits. They strive to spur local economies and give well-paying, benefit-based jobs to workers within the neighbourhood. Profits are not distributed to individuals—they are pooled in a trust that goes to benefit the community.

We love social enterprises because they are a fantastic representation of “impact purchasing,” wherein what you buy has benefits beyond corporate interest. What companies like us gain from offering products made by social enterprises is the knowledge that every purchase has a direct influence on the workers, the community and the planet as a whole.

One of our key social enterprise supplier is Helping Hands Rewards. Helping Hands Rewards is a not-for-profit organization that partners with social enterprises and assists them with marketing and venture development, as well as helping them expand their business to incentive-based companies—including Fairware. Their mission is purely to help people earn a living and support their families. They represent some truly great examples of social enterprises, including Greyston Bakery, which makes the famous brownies for Ben and Jerry’s.

Helping Hand Rewards has connected us to two suppliers—Bright Endeavors and Chicago Lighthouse — for our social enterprise category. Bright Endeavors is a Chicago-based social enterprise that makes eco-friendly spa products and provides career training and jobs to young parents. Chicago Lighthouse, meanwhile, benefits visually-impaired people through its production of home accessories and promotional products. Helping Hands Rewards aids both ventures to reach their full potential as a commercial business and increase funding for their social incentives.

To really get the full impact of what Helping Hands Rewards does, it’s interesting and inspiring to read some of the stories of the individuals who have personally been given a “helping hand” by the organization. Want to learn more about Social Enterprises – check out the resources listed below.

Enterprising Non Profits

Canadian Social Enterprise Marketplace

Social Enterprise Alliance




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