How Insertech Sets High Standards for Social Enterprises
Insertech repairs and refurbishes IT equipment. It also employs and trains individuals who find it difficult to enter the job market.
NBS: Ms. Beaulieu, how would you describe Insertech? How did it start?Beaulieu:
The concept of Insertech emerged in tandem with the development of Technopôle Angus
, a technology park founded on urban ecology principles and community wellbeing nearly two decades ago. When Technopôle Angus was proposed it offered the prospect of economic revival for an area within the heart of Montreal East. It would provide employment opportunities that local youth would normally not have access to.
But socio-economic issues in Montreal East ran deep. School dropout rates meant that even if the tech park created jobs, it would be challenging to fill the positions with qualified employees. But Insertech saw a clear opportunity: to develop skills of young adults, specifically in the field of information technology (IT), which would benefit the economic, social and environmental revitalisation efforts.
Today, Insertech has evolved into a business that serves multiple customers and community stakeholders. We offer an eco-friendly computer hardware recovery service. We help troubled youth become more attractive to employers through training and the development of social and professional skills. We help fight e-waste by providing affordable, refurbished IT equipment to the community. Since our inception, we are proud to have helped 900 young adults and have given 150,000 computers a second life.NBS: How would you describe the Insertech business model?
Beaulieu: More and more! What is particularly interesting is the evolution that we see in our business partnerships. The development and adoption of corporate responsibility has transformed the 'charitable' vision that businesses had about us. Insertech has always offered an environmentally friendly disposal service to businesses.
As more and more companies became aware of their own responsibilities, they were attracted to partner with Insertech by our efficient business model – not only by the opportunity to make a philanthropic contribution.In a way, we are like a prism that helps reveal how businesses can contribution socially and environmentally.
NBS: How do you see the future of social entrepreneurship?
Beaulieu: With the widespread adoption of social responsibility in traditional businesses, I believe that companies like Insertech will attract more partners and that the social economy sector will expand. More and more, I believe, employees want things to make sense. And the community supports reintegration of young adults, intelligent disposal of their waste, collaborative work and so on. These types of goals are increasingly attractive to the workforce of today.
I cannot say whether the model will become generalized, but what seems certain is that the social economy is here to stay. Quebec is even preparing to launch a social economy policy. New business partnerships between traditional businesses and those of the social economy also promote responsible relationships; there is cross-pollination between these different types of businesses.
NBS: What is your advice to entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs?
- Mobilize your teams and governance structures. You can find ways to become more efficient at the social and environmental levels, and you will see that it is also profitable.
- Work in collaboration with the community in which you operate, ensuring that you include your business community. You will identify on one hand, the measures that will allow you make a positive impact, and on the other hand, you will work in non-parallel but complementary sectors.