Beyond business: Unveiling the potential of social entrepreneurship

Career and experiential learning 
Entrepreneurship Hub

By Ève Tremblay

Coordonnatrice des programmes et des événements | Program and Events Coordinator , Carrefour de l'entrepreneuriat | Entrepreneurship Hub

Laptop on a tabletop with a cup of coffee, planner and a plant.
Social entrepreneurship transcends conventional business practices, emphasizing a commitment to both financial success and positive societal impact.

As a social sciences student, I was unaware of the concept of entrepreneurship for a long time. I never really learned about it in school, and I assumed it was mainly for business and engineering students.

Then, in January, I began a CO-OP term at uOttawa’s Entrepreneurship Hub. During my term, I’ve come to realize that anyone can be an entrepreneur and that there are various types of entrepreneurship.

When I learned about social entrepreneurship, it piqued my interest. It transcends conventional business practices, emphasizing a commitment to both financial success and positive societal impact. Having studied societal issues in my sociology classes, I find that social entrepreneurship offers a unique, impactful avenue for addressing them. 

Last week, I had the privilege to learn more about this dynamic field at the Centre for Social Enterprise Development (CSED)’s Unleashed 2024 annual conference in Ottawa. With the theme “Financial 365 — Strategies for Start-Up, Growth and Lasting Impact,” the conference provided a comprehensive overview of social entrepreneurship. A lineup of inspiring speakers shared their insights into social impact strategies, generating sustained impact and investment readiness.

I found the conversation between Manjit Basi, CSED board member, and Steve Beauchesne, co-founder of Beau’s Brewery, particularly interesting. The brewery is a great example of how, in Beauchesne’s words, “You can make money while doing good.” Beauchesne believes that success in entrepreneurship can co-exist with a commitment to ethical, socially responsible practices.

Other speakers from the “Winning Strategies for Increased Impact,” “Roadmap to Investment Readiness” and “Generating Sustained and Lasting Impact” panel discussions stressed the importance of having a strong business plan and strategy to fund your positive societal actions.

Overall, the discussions were inspiring while offering practical advice for entrepreneurs. They showed me that businesses can be catalysts for positive change while thriving in a competitive market. 

Networking breaks between panel discussions provided great opportunities for engaging conversations. I connected with local entrepreneurs and leaders who shared their stories and experiences, and even suggested future collaborations. Learning about the various social enterprises and non-profits operating in the area showed me the diverse ways in which entrepreneurship can be harnessed for social good. 

As I reflect on my experience at the conference, I see so many possibilities within social entrepreneurship. The commitment to societal impact and financial success, coupled with the collaborative spirit of local entrepreneurs, is promising. Social entrepreneurship extends far beyond a business model — it has a transformative force that can address some of the most pressing issues we face.

This experience, along with the knowledge I’ve gained since joining the eHub team, has broadened my perspective and spurred me to explore innovative ways of addressing societal challenges through the lens of social entrepreneurship. I’m eager to apply my knowledge and inspiration to make a positive impact in both my academic and professional pursuits. 

Crew Chronicles

The Crew Chronicles series features unique and insightful contributions from the Entrepreneurship Hub team with respect to entrepreneurship and innovation.