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When we launched ME to WE, the idea of social enterprise was still relatively new in Canada. Although we were building on the work of pioneers like Grameen Bank, Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, Canadian business and tax laws still made it difficult to earn profit to support a charitable cause. To build a successful business model, and ensure the highest propriety in our finances and governance, we called on independent expertise, including the respected law firms Torys and Miller Thompson to design a social enterprise. ME to WE’s business structure, and the legal relationship to WE Charity, were reviewed by eminent legal experts including the Ontario Public Guardian Trustee, former Prime Minister John Turner, the Honourable Stephen T. Goudge and former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Peter Cory.
By statute, under its corporate articles as a social enterprise, ME to WE must donate at least 50% of its annual profits to WE Charity, with the remainder invested back into the social enterprise. For the last five years, ME to WE has, on average, donated over 90% of its profits back to WE Charity, while investing the balance to help grow the social enterprise and its mission. ME to WE is independently reviewed each year by Kestenberg Rabinowicz Partners LLP to ensure annual donation amounts are met, and all practices and transactions are independently reviewed on a regular basis. WE Charity is able to engage in long-term planning and allocate resources to hard-to-fund programs because ME to WE provides stable, annual recurring revenue.
Jason Saul, CEO of Mission Measurement, conducted a review of ME to WE, and concluded: “What I found most impressive is the ME to WE business model: the organization is designed to be financially self-sufficient by using market-based strategies to advance important social outcomes. I think that ME to WE should serve as an exemplar for how to generate economic value by advancing a social mission.”
Follow the links below to learn more about accountability at ME to WE, and read the many independent reviews and evaluations of its structure and impact.