Changing the game: The role of social enterprise for rural community revitalization
Social enterprise and the social economy have existed for generations but are recently gaining increased attention among policy-makers. Rural communities have many challenges which could greatly benefit from social enterprise but are often not specifically included in dialogues and policies. This paper explores the challenges and supports specific to rural social enterprise development with a focus on Ontario. Drawing from the literature on enabling environments for social enterprise as well as my own conversations with social entrepreneurs in southern and northern Ontario, I use the Fusion Youth Activity & Technology Centre in Ingersoll, Ontario to illustrate the application of social enterprise concepts within a rural context. The rural social enterprise environmental factors I focus on are supportive policies, community buy-in and awareness of sector, funding, organizational capacities, and supportive infrastructure. An analysis of Fusion's social enterprises is presented along with recommendations for all levels of government, business, and community for creating supportive systems for rural social enterprise to thrive.