Alright, let us break it down for you. At CSED, we aim to create impact. Actually, let’s get real, we aim to support social enterprises in Ottawa to grow their impact. Our position is ultimately at the nexus of government, business, and charitable institutions so evidently, we get a first-row seat to a dynamic and at times, conflicting context. While the interests of these parties may diverge at points, more often than not, we see a convergence and mutually-reinforcing desire to prioritize progress in all aspects of social innovation and economic development. Subsequently, our self-regard has grown from an initial view of our role as a strategic intermediary to an evolved, mature perspective. We now see ourselves as market-makers and brokers, connecting the supply of authentic goods and services created by social enterprises in Ottawa to new, sustainable opportunities for growth.
As you can imagine, the role of market-making brings along with it a responsibility to educate our various stakeholders as to how they can best involve themselves, with the growing social enterprise sector and of course, the merit of doing so. With that responsibility in mind, we are happy to say that we have a promising and quite intuitive entry point for you whether you are a public, private, or nonprofit body that wishes to take buying social to the next level; Social Value Purchasing. Social Value Purchasing (SVP), also conflated with Social Procurement or Social Procurement strategies, is a holistic approach to organizational buying that is meant to leverage a greater degree of social, environmental and economic value from monies already being spent. Many organizations already do so, by mandating a certain level of vendor diversity and/or including stipulations to support local vendors and bids which offer significant social contributions to the Ottawa Community. However, in purchasing directly from social enterprise, you can affect deeper, more meaningful change because these organizations prioritize people first, then profits, harnessing the power of business to achieve socio-economic objectives.
Unfortunately, many purchasers aren’t yet harnessing their tremendous power to leverage social value. In some cases, organizations are simply aren’t aware of the influence they could have in purchasing from Social Enterprises in Ottawa. It begins with awareness and thoughtful consideration; consideration for vendors such as, Good Nature Groundskeeping, who provide meaningful employment for people with mental health and addiction and quality landscaping or, sourcing unique conference bags or corporate gifts from EcoEquitable, who trains and employs immigrant women and is greening the environment by using recycled and upcycled materials.
Smart, right? Supporting initiatives that have already established the infrastructure to solve societal issues. Imagine if we all took a few minutes of introspection to first analyze our individual, prosocial intentions and sought to transfer these to our existing organizational spend.
Begin by considering how you can better integrate social enterprise and their already established infrastructure and networks into your supply-chain, then imagine the aggregated impact if all Ottawa institutions were to do the same. If this has sparked your enthusiasm, or perhaps you just wish to inquire and/or offer constructive advice or concern as to potential challenges you foresee in pursuing SVP, we want to hear from you. Throughout the next year, we will work with various institutions on a learning journey, dedicated to creating actionable steps towards transitioning spending in favor of community wealth building. If you are a representative from an Ottawa-based anchor institution, private corporation, public (governmental) body or charitable organization, we can work together to navigate this exciting process.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to stay aware of our SVP workshops and to learn more as to how you can participate! Visit our Social Enterprise Directory at www.weallprofit.ca to being perusing your potential purchasing opportunities. Additionally, the following links offer examples from various thought leaders from both public and private sectors in the Canadian context:
AnchorTO Network - University of Toronto
“Exploring Social Procurement” - David LePage
“Primer on Trade Agreements for Social Purchasing” - CED Network