How do I start a social enterprise?

It is important to note that a social enterprise is a business model, not a legal structure. A social enterprise is a business model where at least 50% of surplus revenue is reinvested back into a social, cultural or environmental mission. 

In Nova Scotia co-ops, non-profits, charities, sole-proprietorships, and partnerships can run a social enterprise. The newest for-profit model is called a Community Interest Company (CIC), under the CIC model you run like a business but have your books open like a non-profit. The benefits of the model are more about what it outwardly communicates, your commitment to doing good, if that is of utmost priority and a part of your brand, it is a great way to illustrate those commitments. 

Read HERE for in-depth details on the implications of registering as a CIC.

I need funding

Common Good Solutions does not provide funding, below are robust lists of options for social enterprises and social-purpose businesses.

I want to solve {insert social or environmental challenge}, but how do I do that through my business?

General information: steps to starting a business

Want more? We provide startup support to those that are in the process of starting or growing a social enterprise via our Steps to Startup program. Want to know if the program is right for you? Just answer this questionnaire, if you can independently it’s a good sign you’re heading in the right direction! Just submit your application HERE on our training page.

What should my legal structure be? 

This is often a question folks ask before fully fleshing out their idea and doing their research. What would we recommend? Ask yourself two key questions:

  1. Who is paying for your services? 

    1. Governments? Consider a non-profit. Customers? Consider various for-profit designations. Donations? Perhaps a charity is the best way.

  2. Who do you want to own it? Share holders? Directors? etc.

Below is a list of general information on various legal structures you can consider to help you once you’ve answered the above questions.