Through the $4 million Social Enterprise Demonstration Fund (SEDF), the government will finance 11 socially conscious enterprise organizations across the province, including Ryerson University. The university will use the money to create a fund called the Social Enterprise Seed Fund @ Ryerson.
Social enterprises are ventures that use business strategies to drive social, environmental and economic change. According to a press release, the money at Ryerson will focus on “youth facing barriers and under-represented groups.”
The SEDF is expected to leverage more than $6 million in investment from other sources, including the private sector. Wynne said her government wants to make Ontario the leading jurisdiction in North America for social enterprise.
“We are committed to moving forward and being on the edge. We’re not going to be on the heels of California,” Wynne said. “There’s an absolute connection between what goes on in our education system and what happens in our economy. We’re proud to invest in savvy entrepreneurs who will improve life for people in Ontario, while driving economic growth and creating jobs.”
Ryerson president Sheldon Levy was praised throughout the event as a “guru of social innovation” for leading the university to the forefront.
“I want to thank Sheldon Levy for his vision, for his commitment, for his boundless energy,” Wynne said. “Sheldon has led the university through a decade of really transformative change. It is not the same place it was before Sheldon arrived.”
But when Levy took the stage, all his praise was for the students, including the three panelists sharing their experiences with social enterprises at the event who got started at Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone.
“Ryerson has been pioneering a new model for learning in post-secondary. What we will just call zone-learning,” Levy said. “I just want to add how proud I am of the three on stage and the many, many more that are in the audience and other places. Shows what giving young people the opportunity to shine (does)… and how big a difference it will make for our province and our country.”
With files from Nicole Thompson