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The Social Economy: From IT to the Circus, Building Community and Commerce

To demystify the term “social economy,” NBS interviewed managers at Insertech and TOHU based in Montreal, Quebec.

“Social economy.” It’s a term we increasingly hear in media, business and certainly the academic sphere. Yet, its meaning is not always clear.

Social economy combines two terms that many regard as opposites. “Economy” refers largely to the creation of wealth through the production of goods and services, while “social” refers to the life, welfare and relationships of a given community.

But these terms are not incompatible: they are not mutually exclusive. In Canada, thousands of companies dubbed social enterprises sell goods or services while pursuing a social mission to meet one or multiple needs of a specific community. The results are then reinvested rather than turned into private profit.

To further demystify this term, NBS’s Montreal Office interviewed managers of two organizations participating in the social economy: Insertech and TOHU.

Agnès Beaulieu, Director General at Insertech and Soraya Martinez, Director of Partnerships and Philanthropy at TOHU, describe the challenges and strengths of the social enterprise business model.

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