Rural Social Enterprise Constellation
Rural Social Enterprise Constellation (RSEC) connects, supports and grows social enterprise (SE) in rural Ontario. It’s a unique partnership among a diverse network of supporters and doers of rural social enterprise. RSEC connects work that’s happening on the ground with policy and strategy at regional and provincial levels. From this, RSEC has developed a more comprehensive look at the scale of social enterprise in Ontario, and what systems can make it stronger. It’s part of a broader movement to strengthen the social economy in Ontario.
Rural Social Enterprise Projects
Background & Context
RSEC has been involved in three projects over the past three years (2012-2015). The primary project, a three-year initiative hosted by ONN, was focused on developing an ecosystem approach to rural social enterprise in Ontario. The focus of this project was on four regions: Huron Perth, Peterborough-Durham-Kawarthas, Thunder Bay Area and Greater Simcoe County. To build regional strategies for SE development, project partners organized online and in-person activities – from conferences, webinars, and coaching, to investor roundtables and workshops across the province – for English and francophone communities. They also supported the development of resources like SE funding, provincial research, and an SE database.
A second project, administered by CCEDNet Ontario, integrated a rural component into an initiative concentrated on creating networks and strategic linkages regionally and across rural and urban SE’s in the province to advance SE sector development.
RSEC collaborators created a “Reflections” report to summarize their learning over the past three years. This report outlines the rationale and theory of change that have informed RSEC’s work. It shares project accomplishments, key learning, and the voices of rural stakeholders who were involved in RSEC project activities from 2012 to 2015, funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation.Reflections on Rural Social Enterprise in Ontario
New Directions Research Grant
Social enterprises play a key role in supporting rural communities in Ontario, and we need to know more about how rural social enterprises thrive. The New Directions research project, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, provided an opportunity to take a comprehensive look at four nonprofit social enterprises in Ontario. Read more in the RSEC Project New Directions One Pager. The full report is also available:New Directions Research Report
Why social enterprise?
Helping build sustainability for the nonprofit sector.
The concept of social enterprise is not new- local communities have been engaging in social enterprise for decades. And nonprofits across Ontario have already been creating their own revenue streams, with an average of 43% of revenue coming from earned income. Social enterprise for RSEC is a way to help rural organizations and communities identify sustainable ways to continue building strong rural regions together.
Strengthening communities takes a local lens.
Rural areas across Ontario face unique challenges when it comes to harnessing economic development, funding and resources. Community builders outside city centres are eager to leverage existing resources and increase SE skills training and capacity, yet there have been barriers to access resources and support needed in rural areas. In addition, the unique voices of rural nonprofits are often unheard in discussions about SE systems and policies. Strategies for rural prosperity need to be rooted in rural contexts and perspectives.
What does RSEC do?
Building social enterprise regionally to impact provincial strategy.
By supporting individuals and organizations and their networks and connecting them at the regional level, RSEC is helping regions develop their own systems for support and investment in SE. From this level, provincial strategy and policy can be supported and developed.
How is this connected to the nonprofit sector?
Nonprofits are a socio-economic force in communities.
Nonprofit organizations don’t often think of themselves as part of local or regional economies – but they are an important driver. As trainers, employers, and stewards of community assets, nonprofits have many roles to play in rural prosperity. RSEC aims to strengthen the nonprofit sector through social enterprise capacity building and fostering support systems.
Who is RSEC?
A group of regional and local partners.
RSEC has operated as a provincial working group of the Ontario Nonprofit Network. It is an evolving and growing group of nonprofit organizations and individuals in regions across the province.
To download the RSEC backgrounder, click here.