Launching the WE Social Entrepreneurship Centre

WE is proud to be launching the WE Social Entrepreneurship Centre, Canada’s first centre for innovative social enterprises for young people under the age of 35. The Centre’s mission will be to support young leaders as they launch and scale social enterprises that apply business solutions to society’s greatest social challenges.

Why a social entrepreneurship centre?

Charities address important societal concerns, but often rely on outdated models, and lack financial stability to innovate and scale their impact. Businesses have proven an exponential ability to grow and innovate, but traditional enterprise models do not have an inherent mandate to solve society’s greatest challenges.

The WE Social Entrepreneurship Centre’s mission is to support young leaders as they launch and scale social enterprises to apply business solutions to today’s greatest social challenges.

The Centre will serve young people across Canada under the age of 35, with a focus on reaching priority populations such as women entrepreneurs, new Canadians and Indigenous young people. Imagine a franchise of an Indigenous-owned businesses creating employment in rural communities; an eco-clothing line entirely made from recycled fabrics; a FinTech solution whose profits enable a charity to be economically self-sufficient.

The WE SEC will feature:

  • A makers’ studio, a multi-purpose space for creating audio-visual segments
  • Skype pods to connect with others around the world
  • Public spaces for meetings, group events and the community
  • A showcase space for products developed
  • Flexible work space that can adapt to support different projects and team sizes
  • In-house experts and mentors
  • Approximately 41,000 square feet

“By creating the WE Social Entrepreneurship Centre, we want to empower young people and transform the way Canadian society addresses today’s most pressing issues through social innovation.”
WE Co-founder Craig Kielburger.

The WE Social Entrepreneurship Centre will be located next to the WE Global Learning Center in Toronto, and is part of the Corktown, Regent Park and Moss Park neighbourhoods. The Centre will champion inclusive growth in these communities and unleash the power of social enterprise across North America and globally.

Read the Toronto Star article featuring the new WE Entrepreneurial Centre.

Through the WE Social Entrepreneurship Centre, new social enterprises can connect, network and support one another to ensure long-term growth.

The Centre will bring to life two streams of programming that will empower Canada’s young people to tackle society’s greatest challenges by merging charity and business to create a sustainable impact. It builds on the success of WE Are Social Entrepreneurs, a joint program of WE and RBC Future Launch. The success of the program and the Hub in supporting emerging entrepreneurs is the catalyst and inspiration for the evolved offering and establishment of the WE Social Entrepreneurship Centre and two tiers of programming.

Special thanks to Thor Richardson for his landmark gift to the WE SEC’s physical infrastructure. As an example of the program’s vision, the young entrepreneur made the commitment prior to his 30th birthday.

Program 1: Movement

The WE Social Entrepreneurship Centre will provide programs and support that empower youth to create their own micro social enterprises. Leveraging the WE Schools network of 7,000 Canadian schools, colleges and universities, we will engage young people through tailored curricular resources, small group coaching sessions, hack-a-thons and mentorship. This builds on the success of WE Are Social Entrepreneurs, a joint program of WE and RBC Future Launch.

We will celebrate the incredible ideas of young people and their spirit of social entrepreneurship at our signature WE Day events. Each year WE Day brings 250,000+ like-minded youth together in stadiums in cities around the world.

Through their micro social enterprises, young people across Canada will create hundreds of initiatives that plant seeds of benefit across the country.

Program 1: Movement

Program 2: Scale Up

The Scale Up program will elevate social enterprises to their full potential to create industry leaders. Through rigorous vetting, select young people and their ventures from the “movement” program will be invited into a multi-year deep incubation and acceleration program to help launch their initiatives at scale. Scale Up will devote resources in two key areas to help lead big changes:

  1. Business support: Support services geared toward business needs; for example, human resources, productization, finance, legal and accounting.
  2. Social impact support: Support services to develop deep integration of social impact across the venture; for example, toward working with at-risk populations, accessibility and measuring and validating social impact.
Program 2: Scale Up