When ME to WE was launched in 2009, the idea of social enterprise was still relatively new in Canada. The Canadian Income Tax Act significantly limits the ability of charities to operate businesses. ME to WE Social Enterprise was incorporated separately from WE Charity in order to adhere to these regulations. It is worth nothing that Europe and other regions have more progressive systems to allow charities to operate social enterprises.
ME to WE Social Enterprise supports the work of WE Charity through three principle avenues:
ME to WE Social Enterprise was never established simply to maximize profit. ME to WE lines continue to operate even if they lose money in order to fulfill the core objective of lifting people out of poverty. This is evident through the various earned income strategies.
The model of social enterprise seeks to provide sustainable empowerment to beneficiaries. Some charities do cash payments to beneficiaries, while ME to WE Social Enterprise found a sustainable avenue to assist women earning an income over more than a decade through ME to WE Artisans. The women earned 4x more, on average, than their previous employment, and many were able to use their earnings to start other businesses. The same is true with ME to WE consumable lines that worked with certified Fairtrade farmers, and payed higher wages than even others in the ethical sourcing sector.
ME to WE Social Enterprise’s business structure, and the legal relationship to WE Charity, have been reviewed by multiple eminent legal experts including the former Prime Minister John Turner and former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Peter Cory. Internal controls, external reviews, and auditors have confirmed that any financial interactions between the two entities has ensured that WE Charity has disproportionately benefited.