What is Social Entrepreneurship?

The term ‘social entrepreneur’ marries the familiar attributes we know of entrepreneurs (resourceful, new thinking, different approaches to new opportunities or old problems) with a social purpose (improving quality of life). Social entrepreneurism is emerging in the private sector as a fundamental approach to business, including a movement toward a triple bottom line that includes financial, environmental and social impact. The South Georgian Bay Innovation Fund looks to advance this same approach to innovation within the not-for-profit sector.

The formula works: Put together a small group of talented people who have a compelling high impact idea, with passionate, determined and action-oriented leadership. Combine them with some seed capital, and new beneficial, innovative things will happen.

Some Examples in South Georgian Bay

The Green Prescription Project

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes nature as “our greatest source of health and wellbeing” and says enhancing biodiversity is critical to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Research also shows that spending time in nature can improve overall wellness including reducing stress, improving sleep and boosting happiness, as well as increasing attention, memory and creativity.

The South Georgian Bay Community Health Centre (SGBCHC) partnered with community organizations to launch the Green Prescription pilot project. Funded by the Collingwood General and Marine Hospital Foundation’s Wellness Innovation Fund, and spearheaded by the SGBCHC, the goal of the pilot project is to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals living in South Georgian Bay by promoting physical activity and time in nature.

SGBCHC healthcare providers prescribed “time in nature” to a group of individuals and provide them with a free Ontario Parks pass. The project also provided them with free community trail maps, outlining the trail system throughout Clearview, Collingwood and Wasaga Beach, and information about where to access free community programs that focus on nature. Funding for this project also allowed for the purchase of transit passes, for those who need it, and additional equipment when necessary.

During the eight-month duration of the Green Rx pilot project, data was gathered through pre-and post-surveys. The most notable health improvements cited by the clients were reduced stress levels, improved sleep patterns, decreased anxiety, and an overall sense of enhanced happiness. These outcomes suggest that the Green Rx initiative has the potential to positively address depression and anxiety prevalent among individuals in the South Georgian Bay region.

The Living Wish Foundation

Three powerful women, a family doctor, a nurse, and an administrator had a mission: Make end of life for a person and his/her family less traumatic, creating an experience that cuts through the trauma and infuses a touch of joy during final days.

The Halls’ Wellness Innovation Fund at Collingwood General and Marine Hospital Foundation provided seed capital to the three social entrepreneurs to create a new not-for-profit corporation, The Living Wish Foundation.

Living Better with Parkinson’s

Three persons with Parkinson’s, a senior project management business executive, an educator (teacher/principal) and a Nursing executive were convinced that in South Georgian Bay earlier and more accurate Parkinson’s Disease (“PD”) diagnosis was possible, and that lifestyle and
fitness-based treatment could significantly improve quality of life for persons suffering from Parkinson’s.

They recruited a movement disorder guru at Laurier University to design an introductory 13-week SAFEx program. Fifteen people with PD signed up along with a similar number of community volunteers. Three families donated the required seed funding, and the Halls provided the required gym facilities.

Now with a new Board of Directors led by business executive and lawyer Ian Ross, the program is run regionally as Living Better with Parkinson’s – a registered Canadian charity, with support from Parkinson Canada and the USA-based Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s.