On March 28, Social Spark and Ashoka Canada hosted a Changemaker Showcase at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.
During the event, with many student attendees wanting to learn more about social entrepreneurship and innovation, an audience member raised a question that delved into corporate social responsibility (CSR) – Is a company involved in CSR a social enterprise?
From a legal perspective, Indiana University Professors Robert Katz and Anthony Page argue that social enterprise and CSR can differ even though they share a common goal of societal good.
Peter King, who is the founder of UK’s first merchant services social enterprise Ethecol, also notes a difference between CSR and social enterprise. Although King is not too keen on definitions, he found that CSR emphasizes a lot on reporting and has an institutional demeanour.
The Government of Manitoba adds to this discussion by definitively stating that a company involved in CSR is not a social enterprise. Although companies with CSR initiatives invest profits into the community, their core purpose is to generate wealth for their shareholders. On the other hand, community impact is embedded into the primary goal of a social enterprise.
The China Business Council for Sustainable Development also chimes in by presenting a fundamental difference between CSR and social enterprise. Unlike companies with CSR activities, social enterprises create direct impact in the community through their business products or processes.
The Changemaker Showcase is an event designed to feature TED Talk-style presentations by local social entrepreneurs, followed by discussions to inspire students to explore the possibilities of becoming change agents in their communities.
Today, Ashoka Canada will be hosting another Changemaker Showcase at Ryerson University.
Editor’s note: The Changemaker Showcase at Ryerson University is not hosted by Social Spark as originally indicated, and was removed as a result.
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