Jan 7, 2020

Social enterprises help workers with barriers get back on their feet

East Van Roasters

Social enterprises contribute tens of millions of dollars to the local economy of the Downtown Eastside and employ thousands of people in the process.

Source: Vancouver Sun

The 40 not-for-profit businesses surveyed last year produced $37 million in gross revenue and an estimated $63 million in direct benefit to the community through wages and local purchasing, according to the Downtown Eastside Social Enterprise Impact report by Buy Social Canada.

Many of the 75 or so social enterprises operating in Vancouver's Inner City also help workers find and keep housing and give them the soft skills required to get and keep a job such as workplace communication, conflict resolution, teamwork, time management and professionalism. 

How you spend has a huge impact on the quality of your community. A dollar spent in a national chain store returns less than 14 cents to the local economy, according to the Civic Economic Survey of Independent Businesses. That same dollar spent with a business or food service company on the Downtown Eastside returns about 70 cents to the local economy in the form of wages, local procurement, labour and charitable giving.

Targeting and employing people who are in poverty and who have barriers to employment has a measurable positive impact on health care costs, criminal justice costs and social assistance costs. Every dollar invested, brings a return of $4.

Governments can leverage property to create benefits that far exceed the revenue that flows from renting business space at market prices. Community Impact Real Estate (CIRES), leases 26 such units from B.C. Housing and releases around 60 per cent of them to social enterprises on a cost-recovery basis. The remaining spaces are leased at market rates to commercial tenants. Full-rate businesses, Di Beppe restaurant and Nelson Seagull operate shoulder to shoulder with social tenants, such as the award-winning coffee roaster and chocolateur East Van Roasters, which employees women who live in the social housing units upstairs in the Ranier Hotel.

Here's the link to the full article from the Vancouver Sun. 

Author: Randy Shore 

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