Seventh Generation Networking: Canada

Whilst away at a friend’s wedding, the world of social entrepreneurship and social responsibility continued to follow me around. Met an interesting guy who works in music TV in Canada, but who previously was involved with CSR with Seventh Generation, the US’ "leading brand of non-toxic household products" who, allegedly, are now Vermont’s coolest employer, ahead of the erstwhile Ben and Jerry. He was saying that Canada views the US and UK as a fair way ahead in terms of social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility, and that they have a distance to go.

I’m not sure this is totally the case, as there seems to be a fair bit of activity, particularly over in Vancouver. Check out these links:

– the Canadian Social Entrepreneurs Network
– the Vancouver Social Enterprise Forum
Canadian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
– the Columbia Foundation
– the Peter Drucker (social) Innovation Award
Social Capital Partners


In a bizarre coincidence, word reaches me of the 3rd Tremblant Forum on Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability, being held where I was at the Quebec wedding I mention above….the world moves in mysterious ways, indeed. See TremblantForum for more info…

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4 thoughts on “Seventh Generation Networking: Canada

  1. That’s interesting. We had the same perception when moving to the UK last year. However, what I discovered was that the US was well advanced over the UK. –At least that is what I thought. What I have come to understand is that UK social enterprise has a different focus (scope) when compared against the US (and to some degree Canada).
    UK Focus: Council-like services and go it alone. (
    US Focus: Private products & services with an emphasis on gap provision for community services not handled by the smaller government provision. Higher degree of partnerships with private sector. (Examples at:
    I think much of the difference is attributed to two things: risk and venture philanthropy.
    Risk: Much of the social enterprise scene in the US is populated by entrepreneurs. This is not the case, but is changing thanks to schools like SSE, in the the UK.
    Venture Philanthropy: This kind of charitable support and/or investment is much more pervasive in the US. In fact, the entire giving of corporations is much more in the US. This led to partnership investments with social enterprises.
    The good news, I think the gap in the provision for Social Enterprise is closing as Government Office moves to create more business focused enterprises and partnerships with private sector. (
    Kind regards,
    The Camberwell Project

  2. Thanks for the notice.
    Vancouver is an emerging SE hub, buoyed by the efforts of the BC Social Venture Partners, the Enterprising Non-Profits (ENP) programme, the local credit union movement – most notably VanCity – and many others who approach social enterprise from either an enterprise ethic or civil society.
    The western part of Canada, based on census reporting, has more entrepreneurs and individuals who “self-describe” themselves as “socially engaged” than the rest of the country. Maybe that has something to do with it. Or, maybe it’s somehting in the water.
    P.S Within Canada … the impression is that Quebec is the place for social entrepreneurship. Happy to tell you more.

  3. Thanks for the comments.
    Todd: I do think risk is a big differential either side of the Atlantic, in traditional business, never mind social business (where, arguably, people are even MORE risk-averse). I think you’re also right on the differences in venture philanthropy, though I think the UK is catching up a little on this.
    What’s interesting to me is that social entrepreneurship in the UK equates pretty much to social entrepreneurship in the US, but ‘social enterprise’ is almmost a more narrowly-defined sector/spehere within that in the UK. We would see social entrepreneurship as about innovation, developing new solutions, addressing unmet needs and so forth. I’m not sure you’ll ever get that responding to a government tender. That’s not to say that social enterprises shouldn’t be involved in delivering public services, as the added value (often) is clear; just that that should not be ALL they do, and there is a massive focus on that at the moment. And that the public services as currently being delivered may themselves be the problem…
    Peter: Thanks for getting in touch. Interesting that Quebec is viewed as the place for social entrepreneurship. I certainly enjoyed my time there, and if I get to Vancouver, I’ll look you up. At some point the SSE model will be ripe for international, as well as national, dissemination!