Oversight and independent reviews

When launching ME to WE as a social enterprise in 2009, there was no legal definition of a social venture or enterprise in Canada. Lacking a more formal framework, we worked with a wide variety of professional bodies and experts to create an organization that operated with the utmost transparency in pursuit of its social purpose. There are many levels of oversight for ME to WE that mean it’s not a simple private company; this includes reviews from Canada Revenue Agency, legal entities and third-party impact agencies and experts. There is a very strong governance model, system of fiduciary oversight and system of checks and balances. Below you can find an outline of the many steps taken to ensure that the ME to WE social enterprise is effective and exists as closely to the ideal social enterprise model as its Canadian context currently allows:

Provincial Guardian Trustee sign-off on model

The Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (“PGT”) is a branch of the Ontario government’s Ministry of the Attorney General, which provides services that safeguard the legal, personal and financial interests of certain private individuals and estates. As a matter of legal due diligence, WE Charity and ME to WE underwent a full assessment from the PGT and were awarded an official court order supporting the structure and relationship.

Evaluation and endorsement from the Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada

The Honourable Peter Cordy, C.C., C.D., performed a comprehensive review of all governance and operations of the charity and social enterprise and provided an unconditional commendation and formal recognition of the financial diligence demonstrated by both ME to WE and WE Charity. Former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner (via his law firm) also independently reviewed ME to WE and WE Charity—their governance models and the relationship between them—and issued an unqualified laudatory report.

Local Kenyan mama and ME to WE Trip traveller
Local Kenyan mama and ME to WE Trip traveller

A proud B Corp

B Corp (short for Benefit Corporation) certification is to business what Fairtrade is to coffee, or Energy Star is to appliances. It’s a guarantee, backed by rigorous assessment, of positive impact on the local and global community.

ME to WE has been a proud certified B Corp since 2015, and is currently among the top 5% of all Canadian organizations that are B Corp Certified.

ME to WE underwent an intensive year-long evaluation, submitting more than 25 documents detailing every aspect of its operations and programs. They looked at ME to WE’s finances, governance and human-resource policies. For example, we had to provide a list of suppliers to show how much of ME to WE’s cost of goods sold went to artisans in partner communities versus other suppliers.

In the end, ME to WE scored 108 on its B Corp evaluation—double the median score for all other B Corps. Here are some of the criteria that ME to WE got a perfect score on:

Model proposed and structured by two top law firms

To help create a sound corporate structure, governance model and reporting requirements for the partnership, WE Charity and ME to WE engaged two of Canada’s top law firms, Torys LLP and Miller Thomson, who offered pro bono legal services in creating the governing documents of the partnership.

KCI compensation review

KCI are specialists in executive compensation and recruitment. The firm reviewed total compensation of WE co-founders, benchmarking them within their comparable in the non-profit sector. WE co-founders Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger have never received payment from WE Charity (formerly Free The Children), and receive an annual salary and use of a hybrid car from ME to WE. KCI concluded the following: “Relative to other youth-focused and youth-serving organizations the compensation for the WE co-founders would be within the typical range of compensation for executive level positions. However it should be noted that many within this sector are significantly smaller than WE in terms of both staff complement and revenues.”

On-going legal advice from Miller Thomson LLP

Miller Thompson LLP is a national legal practice that specializes in business law and works with nonprofit organizations and businesses alike, as an internationally recognized law firm. Since the inception of ME to WE, we have sought legal counsel from Miller Thomson, and continue to receive ongoing confirmation of the legitimacy of the structure of ME to We’s operations.

WE Charity is dedicated to ongoing transparency. You can find the annual reports here.

Evaluation and endorsement from a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada

Retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, the Honourable Peter Cory, C.C., C.D., performed a comprehensive review of all governance and operations of the charity and social enterprise and provided an unconditional commendation and formal recognition of the financial diligence demonstrated by both ME to WE and WE Charity. You can see his statement on the matter here.

Former Canadian Prime Minister John Turner (via his law firm) also independently reviewed ME to WE and WE Charity—their governance models and the relationship between them—and issued an unqualified laudatory report.

Evaluation and endorsement from a Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario

The Honourable Stephen T. Goudge is a well-known and highly respected member of Canada’s legal community. Justice Goudge, nearly 10 years later, has performed an updated comprehensive review of all governance and operations of the charity and social enterprise and provided an unconditional commendation and formal recognition of the financial diligence demonstrated by both ME to WE and WE Charity as initially reviewed by Justice Peter Cory. You can read Justice Goudge’s report here.