Since our Justice,Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Social Acquisition Project began in September 2022, the CWCF has been working diligently towards the completion of project tasks and communication objectives. To this end, we have participated in three main outreach events, and have completed several online (and print) educational and awareness materials, for members of Equity-Denied Groups (women, BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+, youth, and people with disabilities) interested in the Social Purpose Organization (SPO) model. Some of our main outreach events have included:
- A Pre-Conference Session on Business Conversions for Equity-Denied Groups
- Conference Keynote on the intersection of BIPOC Communities & the Solidarity Economy
- A webinar on Business Conversions for Equity-Denied Groups
According to Zoom poll feedback, 78% of attendees rated this webinar 5 out of 5 stars. Many individuals remarked that the personal stories (shared by presenters), the organization and flow of the content, the clarity of the information, and the enthusiasm of the presenters, were highlights of their positive experience. Further, this session met our pre-established outreach criteria developed via our Evaluation Matrix, as 35 individuals attended, while 60 registered for the event and thus have access to the slide deck and video recording. It was reported that a significant number of those who registered (but were not able to attend) consulted the recorded materials and hence, accessed important information on the value of Business Conversions to Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs) for Equity-Denied Groups.
- Presentation on the intersection of Justice, Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (JEDDI) in the Workplace and Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs)
This event touched on the need for a JEDDI approach to interactions in Canadian workplaces, as well as how the Social Purpose Organization model not only benefits EDGs, but is rooted in their long held economic and cultural practices. Presenters included CWCF’s Janielle Maxwell, Black Women Professional Worker Co-op’s Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido, and Co-op and Mutual Canada’s Sope Ogunride. Both Juliet and Hazel Corcoran (CWCF’s Executive Director) also participated in the Question & Answer session.
Other key achievements thus far include:
- The completion of CWCF’s JEDDI Social Acquisition Project web pages:
These web pages contain material on several topics relevant to Business Conversions for Equity-Denied Groups (EDGs). It includes background information on what exactly constitutes a Social Purpose Organization (SPO) or Social Enterprise, case studies of successful conversions to SPOs which highlight businesses led by or serving EDGs, what different kinds of co-ops and other SPOs exist, and how a business conversion works. Soon to be added, is a page detailing educational and financial resources for those interested as well as a section explaining why exactly there is such an indisputable need to integrate more members of EDGs into the SPO space. Currently, the JEDDI Project web pages total 16, and will soon be available in French for our Francophone friends!
- The completion of online and print version brochures:
These brochures contain general guidelines to pursue a business conversion, for both the buyer and seller sides. Also included, is background information on the CWCF as well as a section detailing how conversions may benefit members of EDGs. The printed version of the brochure will be used for distribution at upcoming in-person events, while the online version serves as an easily accessible resource for those interested in conversions, who have little background knowledge on the process.
- Connecting with individuals interested in SPOs:
Through outreach and meetings, we have connected with a business owner who is interested in converting their business to a co-operative, as well as 1 individual interested in launching a ground-up Social Enterprise centered around community gardens and food sharing. We will continue the completion of the project in close proximity with these persons, to aid in the fruition of their business goals by sharing resources and opportunities.
- Meeting with several organizations within the Social Enterprise community:
We have met with representatives from several organizations (i.e. CapStan Association, Co-operatives First, Co-op and Mutuals Canada etc.) to share about our JEDDI Project and scope out possible collaborations. The Investment Readiness Program (IRP) partner gatherings and portal have been particularly useful in facilitating these connections, as there was often time allotted to discussion and knowledge sharing during these IRP meetings
- The completion of our Communications & Marketing Plan:
This plan details the various outreach channels that will be used to help achieve our social media goals.
- The completion of our Logic Model and Evaluation Framework:
This will assess the impact and outcomes of the project in comparison to our objectives. As we host and facilitate events, we will be gathering feedback from attendees to better identify and understand our strengths and areas for improvement.
Some of our upcoming events and activities include a possible collaboration with Women’s Economic Council during their May 2023 conference, presentation at the Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation (CASC) conference at York University in May, as well as social media ‘ Equity-Denied Group Spotlight Stories’; which will showcase representatives from various EDGs and how the SPO model has helped them navigate barriers in traditional business realms; so stay tuned!
Note that although the project was originally scheduled for September 2022- August 2023, the CWCF has obtained an extension, which will allow for activities and/or reporting to take place up until March 2024.