SCP seeks to address big-picture structural social challenges in an innovative way. We acheive this by highlighting the business benefits for private sector players to become more community minded. SCP invests in, and works with, businesses that seek to integrate a social mission into their HR strategy.
Phase 1: Social Enterprise (2001 – 2006)
From the outset, SCP’s work centered on the concepts of venture philanthropy and social finance – investment models that deliver social benefits as well as economic returns. With a goal to create meaningful employment opportunities for individuals from disadvantaged populations, SCP facilitated access to financing and provided advisory services to build and scale social enterprises – businesses that integrate a social mission directly into their operations. In this phase, SCP helped establish and scale a portfolio of profitable social enterprises across Canada, which together have facilitated employment opportunities for over 1500 people to date, and proved that it is possible to create businesses that balance financial and social considerations.
These investments consisted primarily of start-up businesses which were expressly designed with double bottom lines (financial and social) in mind. SCP looked to invest in enterprises with high quality management teams and viable business ideas. These businesses were also required to generate a significant number of entry-level jobs with good career paths that could be used to employ people outside the economic mainstream. SCP’s social enterprise portfolio includes:
- Atira Property Management (Vancouver) – Employs women who are victims of violence
- Inner City Renovations (Winnipeg) – Employs urban aboriginal persons
- Turnaround Couriers (Toronto) – Employs at-risk youth directly from youth shelters
- Renaissance (Montreal) – Hires directly from provincial social assistance programs
More information about each of these companies is available in our Portfolio.
Phase 2: Franchise (2006 – ongoing)
The creation of SCP’s Franchise Community Hiring Program emerged as a means of better engaging traditional private sector players to achieve greater social impact and scale. With the objective of creating access to more job opportunities with traditional businesses, SCP established its Franchise Growth Fund exclusively for Community-Minded Franchisees in 2006. Through the fund, SCP began facilitating access to low interest subordinate debt financing to franchisees that would commit to hiring entry-level employees through community employment agencies such as the YMCA. To further promote our social mandate, the interest rates tied to these loans are socially-adjusted, meaning that for every additional person hired through a community service agency, the franchisee’s interest rate on their loan is lowered.
In practice, this model has allowed SCP to increase the number of community hires employed more efficiently and easily for a given investment of time and capital. Through this program, SCP now has facilitated investments with several franchise partners, most notably 24 Active Green + Ross locations across Ontario and all corporately-owned stores. This proven business model is currently being scaled across different industries and regions throughout Canada.
Phase 3: Corporate Community Hiring (2010 – ongoing)
Currently, SCP is testing the feasibility of engaging Canadian employers in the practice of community hiring without any use of financing.
We have learned through working with our franchise portfolio – particularly Active Green + Ross in Ontario – that employers will use community employment service agencies as an alternative channel to recruit new people as long as there is a good fit between the jobs they are looking to fill and the pre-screened candidates referred to them by these agencies. The challenge fpor employers is that they often lack the internal resources necessary to understand and access the different types of employment programs available in their communities to reach those candidates best suited for their job openings.
Short-term objective: Prove the business case for community hiring to employers
In 2010, SCP embarked on an 18-month pilot with 3 of Canada’s largest employers to test the scalability of community hiring for corporations. Our objective is to prove the business case for community hiring to employers, by demonstrating that people who have faced barriers to employment, but are now motivated and ready to work, can be as good (or better) than hires through traditional recruitment channels. In these pilots, SCP, in collaboration with local employment service agency partners, developed customized pre-employment training, with the objective of streamlining agency training and preparation of job seekers who have overcome employment barriers, with the hiring cycles and needs of employers.
SCP believes that with the right combination of pre-employment training and post-employment support systems, motivated candidates who would have otherwise been considered less competitive based solely on their experience, would perform as well, or better than, traditional entry-level employees. Through ongoing data tracking over the span of the pilot project, SCP seeks to build a ‘business case’ for community hiring using evidence-based data that will correlate specific pre-employment support systems, such as skills training, to employment outcomes, such as performance, career progression and retention.