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90+ ESE Managers Gather for TEF’s First Annual Conference

On Friday, March 29, over 90 members of Peel, Toronto, and York Region’s Employment Social Enterprise sector gathered at Building Capacity, Building Community: TEF’s First Annual ESE Conference.

 The conference featured a number of opportunities for local ESE leaders to gain expertise and skills needed to further their ESEs - including workshops on marketing and SEO, leveraging technology, connecting key population staff to external wraparound supports, fundraising, building strong partnerships.

Attendees also had the opportunity to meet one on one with a marketing, fundraising, HR, legal, or tech coach throughout the day to workshop and get advice on a specific item or issue.

Compassion fatigue is an ever present concern in the sector as many Managers balance the stresses and demands of both running a small business and providing inclusive employment supports for staff facing systemic barriers. To address some of these challenges, the Conference’s keynote presentation, delivered by Marion Langford, focused on preventing burnout through on the job self-care.

The conference also offered strong networking opportunities for attendees. A morning session offered ESE managers the opportunity to engage in ‘speed dating’ with sector funders and anchor institutions keen to purchase the products and services of social enterprises. Funders present at the session included: the McConnell Foundation, Virgin Unite, the Laidlaw Foundation, and the Metcalf Foundation, and, of course, TEF. Anchor purchasers included Crosslinx and the City of Toronto. This session created an opportunity for people to connect face to face - increasingly rare and valuable in this time of e-communication.

Additionally, attendees connected with each other to share resources and expertise through a wall of “ask” and “offer” envelopes. Conference-goers each wrote an ask or offer for support on an envelope and others that were interested in connecting on the item shared their business card in the envelope.

TEF further facilitated opportunities for collaboration through four Lightning Talks from local ESEs (Out of the Box, YouthSpeak, Parkdale Green Thumb Enterprises, and the Livelihood Cafe) where the managers presented these ESEs to the community and shared one opportunity for collaboration.

Conference attendees were well caffeinated and fed throughout the day by the delicious catering by local ESEs - Out of this World Cafe, Friend’s Catering, and the Livelihood Cafe.

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