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Thursday, 26 July 2018 16:47

18 Things you probably didn’t know TEF did in 2018

2018 was a big year for TEF. From a new strategy to new Accelerator programs -- we were busy! Read on for 18 things you may not know we did in 2018. 

1. Launched a new 10-year strategy with ambitious targets!

After over a year’s work in consulting with employment social enterprise (ESE) practitioners and other stakeholders across our region, we developed a new ten-year strategy for TEF – and this strategy was approved by United Way Greater Toronto! The strategy dramatically increases support for ESEs in our region, including new programs to start-up, sustain and scale ESEs. Through work with ESEs across our Peel, Toronto and York Region, we aim to create 15,000 new employment opportunities for people facing barriers to the labour market over ten years. 

2. Designed brand-new programs to support ESE Start-ups

You may have noticed our ‘business plan competition’ has gone the way of the dodo bird. In its place we have a roster of new programs to support ESEs to launch. These programs include an Employment Social Enterprise 101 webinar, and ESE 201 workshop, an ESE Idea Accelerator, and two new grants: Catalyzing Grants and Start-up Grants. Find out more here.

3. Hosted 16 workshops on ESEs, training 355 people

In 2018, we hosted 11 Employment Social Enterprise 101 sessions, and 5 Employment Social Enterprise 201 workshops, introducing over 350 people to the foundations of the ESE model, and supporting them to explore the development of their own ESE ideas. Amongst these workshops were presentations at the First Work - Futures Conference, the EconoUs Conference, and at a Design Jam we hosted with TO+Acumen. Interested in watching our ESE 101 webinar, or attending an ESE 201 workshop? Find information here

4. Launched a Food Cluster supporting 16 Food-Industry ESEs

One of our new programs to support the sustainability of existing ESEs is our new ‘clusters’ program. This supports groups of ESEs with similar characteristics, be they enterprises operating in the same industry or with the same target population. The first cluster we launched supports ESE in the food industry. Sixteen intrepid food industry enterprises have joined us on this journey by becoming inaugural members of our Food Cluster. With them, we’ve: hosted 4 meet-ups for sharing best practices and common challenges; launched a Food Cluster Project Grant (for supporting them to work on projects together); connected them with three fantastic food industry expert mentors; and have launched a private Facebook group.

Are you an existing food-based employment social enterprise in Peel, Toronto or York Region and want to join the cluster? Apply here

5. Built an Advocacy Case Based on ESE Needs

Last year, we consulted with ESEs to understand what is most holding them back from sustainability and growth. We hosted a consultation and conducted a survey, hearing from over 20 ESEs in the region. We heard loud and clear that folks are struggling to access grant funding to cover their social costs -- expenses they incur to provide additional training, wraparound supports, and supported employment provisions to their target population. Based on this feedback, we have developed an advocacy strategy to support ESEs to gain access to funds to cover their social costs. 

6. Launched ESE Social Costs Advocacy Strategy: Education & Engagement

Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments all have workforce development goals. ESEs have demonstrated their efficacy in meeting these objectives. Thus, one component of our social costs advocacy strategy is to educate governments about the impact of ESEs, and advocate to them for greater support of ESEs. Thus far, we’ve had productive meetings with staff in the Federal Government, in the Ministry of Employment and Social Development Canada; with staff at the Provincial government, in the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and University; staff at the City of Toronto, in the Employment and Social Services Division; and at York Region. 

We’ve also supported ESEs to self-advocate, through disseminating new tools for measuring their ‘social costs’ and demonstrating their impact, including hosting 8 workshops about social cost accounting, with 85 ESE practitioners attending. Finally, we’ve begun to identify government programs that may be suitable for ESEs to access to fund their social costs, available here. There will be more to come on this in the new year!

7. Ran two Accelerators with over 40 aspiring ESE developers

This year, we ran two ESE Idea Accelerators! The first was a pilot project, in partnership with the Ministry of the Status of Women that supported the development of ESEs that employ women facing barriers to the labour market. The second, was our first flagship accelerator, to which 65 aspiring entrepreneurs applied. We selected 25 entrepreneurs to participate in the three-month program. The accelerator culminated in a public pitch night, attended by over 60 community members, in which 4 emerging entrepreneurs were selected to win Catalyzing Grants. Find out more about the emerging ESEs here

8. Published a bi-weekly ESE Managers Newsletter (13 newsletters!) 

This year, we made it a goal to help connect the dots in the ESE sector, supporting ESE managers to feel like they’re part of local and global employment social enterprise movement. As one strategy to accomplish this goal, in April, we began publishing a bi-weekly ESE Managers newsletter, which features news stories from ESEs at home and abroad, funding opportunities that ESEs could access, ESE jobs, and resources and tools of relevance to ESE staff. Since April, we’ve published 13 newsletters, and our mailing list has grown to 125 people! Running an ESE and not on our newsletter list? Email Courtney Ayukawa This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to get on the list!

9. Mapping the ESE Sector

Over the past decade, TEF’s primary focus has been on supporting a portfolio of ESEs in Toronto. With our new strategy, we’ve broadened our scope considerably, aiming to provide support to all ESEs in Peel, Toronto and York Regions. To get a handle on the current state of the ESE sector, we embarked on a mapping project, ultimately identifying 70+ ESEs in our region, and publishing them on a Google Map, available here. Not on the map and want to be? Email Bronwyn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

10. Grew our Social Media Community and Launched New Campaigns 

In 2018, we expanded our Twitter presence, growing our followers by 20% and launching new campaigns that help to increase the profile of the ESE sector in our region. In one campaign we highlighted the ESE Managers that we think are heroes, encouraging others to “be like” them! In another, we spotlighted the incredible employees of some of our region’s ESEs, and the impact that employment within ESEs has on their lives. 

11. Hired a fantastic new Associate Manager: Courtney Ayukawa

In October, we were thrilled to welcome Courtney Ayukawa to the TEF Family. Courtney is our new Associate Manager, and brings considerable experience in the ESE field, having worked as the Operations Manager with Good Foot Delivery. Since joining, Courtney has spearheaded the coordination of our Accelerator program, run a zillion ESE 201 and 101 workshops, and has upped our social media game considerably. (If you like the GIFs we use, you can thank Courtney!) 

12. Partnered with MCCSS and Groupe Convex to support the creation of ESEs that Employ People with Disabilities

This year, we’ve partnered with the Province’s Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) and Groupe Convex, to support five organizations that provide supports to people with developmental disabilities to explore social enterprise development. For this project, we’ve hosted workshops to help each of the pilot projects understand the ‘social costs’ of running an employment social enterprise. 

13. Begun to support ESEs in Peel and York Region!

A key component of our new 10-year strategy is ramping up support for ESEs in Peel and York Regions. To begin this journey, this year, we: 

  • Hosted ESE 101 and 201 workshops in Peel and York Regions 
  • Welcomed 2 ESEs from Peel and 1 ESE from York Region into our Food Cluster
  • Accepted 8 entrepreneurs from Peel Region and 3 entrepreneurs from York Region into our ESE Idea Accelerator program
  • Provided a Catalyzing Grant to one emerging Peel Region ESE
  • Provided MixedCap funding to one Peel Region ESE
  • Engaged one York Region and one Peel Region ESE in our Social Costs Advocacy working group
  • Met with policy staff in Peel Region to advocate for social costs funding

14. Distributed 3 MixedCap Grant/Loans, in partnership with Alterna Savings

The Mixed Capital Opportunities Fund is a program that provides a hybrid grant-loan to organizations looking to grow. This year, we provided capital to three organizations seeking to grow. 

15. Launched Growth Grant Applications

Just last week, we launched a call for applications for our first round of Growth Grants, which aim to support existing employment social enterprises to explore, plan and pilot strategies to grow their businesses, based on validated market demand. Growth Grants provide up to $10,000 in one-time funding. Applications are open until January 18. Learn more and apply!

16. Provided sustaining funding to a portfolio of 18 enterprises who employed 453 people

This year, we provided sustaining grant funding to 18 ESEs in the Toronto Region, including both long-time grantees, like Out of This World Café, and Parkdale Green Thumb Enterprises, as well as new enterprises, like Out of the Box, and RainscapeTO. In total, these enterprises created employment opportunities for 453 people facing barriers to the labour market across our region in 2018. 

17. Connected with ESE Support Organizations in the US, Germany, and Scotland 

We believe in the importance of sharing best practices, struggles, and lessons learned with other ESE practitioners and support organizations. This year, we had the pleasure to connect and learn alongside practitioners at REDF, a national US-based ESE support organization, FAF, a consulting firm and ESE intermediary in Germany, and Social Firms Scotland, a member-led ESE support organization in Scotland. 

18. Partied with our Community!

In December, we hosted a Holiday Party with ESE Managers, celebrating the great work they do all year round!

Sneak Peek at 2019 

If 2018 was a big year, 2019 is poised to be a gigantic one. In the next 12 months, we’re aiming to: 

  • Host 15+ ESE 101 and 201 workshops
  • Run 3-4 ESE Idea Accelerators
  • Launch 2 new Clusters
  • Distribute Catalyzing Grants, Start-Up Grants, and Growth Grants
  • Increase our Advocacy
  • Host an inaugural ESE Conference (in March!) 

We can’t wait to get started, and look forward to doing it alongside partners like you in the sector. 

Have feedback on what we’re doing? Email Bronwyn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any comments.

The TEF team wishes you a Happy New Year!

18 Things you probably didn’t know TEF did in 2018

Read 5412 times Last modified on Wednesday, 02 January 2019 15:49

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