What do the Toronto Pan Am Games 2015 have to do with Social Enterprise?

Move over HOV lanes, Toronto-based social enterprises are the next big news related to the Toronto Pan Am/Parapan Am Games 2015

The Toronto Pan Am/Parapan Am Games 2015 are upon us!

Anyone who has turned on the TV or opened a paper in the last several months can’t have missed the spectacle of negative news surrounding the controversies and inconveniences the Games have been causing (cough, cough: HOV lanes). But if we step back for a moment to look at some of the ways the Games have made a positive impact on the city, we can see a much bigger story.

The Games are meant to contribute to the economy and infrastructure of the city and the province, for this summer and for many years to come. With over 6,000 athletes and tons of fans descending on the city, we here at SoJowondered: what type of social impact is going on here?

As it turns out, the Toronto Pan Am/Parapan Am Games created a social procurement office with a specific mandate of supporting a diversity of suppliers — including social enterprises. With the help of the Toronto-based Social Purchasing Project, a project which helps elevate the profile of social enterprises in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, the Games have been able to source goods and services from a range of do-good companies in the city.

We spoke to Alexandra Djukic at the Social Purchasing Project who explained to us that the Games broadened their supplier diversity program to include social enterprises. This was done through a diversity points award system for the businesses that were bidding on contracts or subcontracts — levelling the playing field for smaller social enterprises.

Pretty exciting stuff, we think. And when we dug a little deeper into the social enterprises who were awarded contracts for the Games, we couldn’t help but want to share their work far and wide.

Here’s a quick run-down.

Photo from St. Leonard’s Society http://www.stleonardstoronto.com

KLINK Coffee This coffee brand focuses on barriers to entering the workforce, specifically with those who are coming out of the criminal justice system. By focusing on selling niche, delicious, and green coffee, they provide a great product and social impact. Certain venues will be carrying their product, so be sure to keep a look out for their fair-trade coffee!

Phoenix Print ShopPromotional material is not only necessary but crucial to successfully hosting the Games. Phoenix Print Shop secured a $45,000 contract to print guides, handbooks and artwork. Phoenix is a social enterprise linked to Eva’s Initiatives that hires and trains 24 homeless and at-risk youth annually to teach them all the skills that go into printing, including computer graphics and digital imaging.

Options PrintingAnother print shop that has had the opportunity to engage with Pan Am is Options, an organization that helps individuals with intellectual disabilities develop the skills necessary to obtain meaningful employment. They printed over 14,000 volunteer recognition cards: an awesome contract for a great social business.

Interpreter Services TorontoBy mobilizing the language skills that Toronto’s immigrants and refugees possess, Interpreter Services Toronto provides businesses with professional and friendly service. The social enterprise is filling an incredibly important void during the Games: communication across the many participating cultures and languages.

KitiganThis social economy initiative supports Aboriginal artists and organizations by promoting and selling their work in the mainstream market, which is often inaccessible to them due to remoteness, poverty and social exclusion. They have created the TO2015 Moccasins that will be for sale throughout the Pan Am Games!

Get a pair now at www.kitigan.com

FABARNAKFABARNAK is a non-profit restaurant operated by 519 Community Centre. 519 is home to Pridehouse TO — a group that builds inclusion, acceptance and awareness of LGBTQ rights in Toronto and beyond. During the Pan Am games, the space will be the official LGBT headquarters. In addition, a number of special receptions are being held on-site at the 519, for which FABARNAK is providing catering and food service.

If you’re anything like us and inspired by the Games’ demonstrated commitment to social enterprise and supporting good business in Toronto, you may find yourself wondering what you can do to get involved.

Luckily, with the help of our friends at the Social Purchasing Project, we’ve put together a handy-dandy list of social enterprises you can buy from if you’re in-and-around Toronto for the games.

Out of this World CafeA little cafe for a yummy bite or drink. 100 Stokes St.

HawthorneLocal ingredients and accommodating service is a great spot for a meal downtown. 60 Richmond Street East

Paintbox BistroHealthy, delicious and sustainable food with a great sense of community. 555 Dundas Street East

LOFT KitchenA youth-run cafe, boutique and gallery. 850 Bloor Street West

At SoJo we see this as great news for the social enterprise community of Toronto and beyond. As Alexandra put it, “social enterprises will gain access to significant new markets that will help them grow their business and expand their social impact.”

The hope is that the exposure of the diverse businesses will lead to more awareness of social enterprise in market, therefore expanding the social good being done. There is certainly still more that can — and should — be done to make social procurement policies the norm across the board, but we’re pretty excited about this start. So to that we say — Happy Pan Am Games!

Written by: Montana Kimel — Communications & Marketing at SoJo

We support young, aspiring social entrepreneurs. We are passionate in our belief that social entrepreneurship is the future of business. And in order for business to evolve, we need to unleash a new generation of business leaders, who see the value of business differently.