A few months ago when I began speaking to nonprofit social enterprises, it became apparent they felt disconnected from the broader social enterprise sector.

A few days ago when I spoke to an impact investor, it became apparent they felt disconnected from the broader social enterprise sector.

What is the social enterprise sector? Who’s a part of it, and who isn’t? Why is this something we’re still not sure of?

This uncertainty is astonishing, but not entirely surprising. It echoes another of the challenges that Social Enterprise Toronto members have mentioned – confusion about who the different sector stakeholders are. While there are many stakeholders in the world of social enterprise, it’s not always clear how they fit together and what their roles are. For a social enterprise manager who is struggling to deliver a high quality product while managing employees and trying to reach new customers, it can seem like a lost cause.

This fragmentation is neither new nor hidden – it’s a topic that has come up in both public and private conversations for years. There have been several attempts to address it, too – most significantly, in the form of funders rewarding collaboration. However, there are still too many gaps between different actors.

Social Enterprise Toronto is trying to bridge these gaps by building partnerships, whether in the social services sector (the topic of our last blog post) or in the social enterprise sector. We recently had a great conversation with the School for Social Entrepreneurs – Ontario, which runs learning programs and helps develop leaders in social enterprise.

You would think we are already work together.

You would be wrong.

There is rich irony that there is precious little community to be found amongst organizations that work for the community. And it applies across the board if actors from both the non-profit and for-profit sides of the aisle are feeling disconnected. Let’s look to the future and think about how we can get to a community un-fragmented.

The first step? Building relationships and making connections. And what better place to do it than the Social Enterprise Toronto Conference 2016?

Get your tickets today to connect with over a hundred likeminded champions of social enterprise. 

This post is part of the Sector Dialogue series, supported by the Metcalf Foundation.

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nvbr11/20733518066/

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