Bending the Learning Curve


A necessarily complex solution to complex problems, social enterprise is a demanding course of action. Unfortunately, social entrepreneurs (outside of Québec) enjoy little of the technical assistance, finance, training, and professional association that support the performance of Canada's private entrepreneurs so effectively.

How then do we build an infrastructure supportive of social enterprise development with minimum dissension and confusion? That is what the Development Wheel Project aimed to discover. With the support of the Rural Secretariat's Models Program, the Project sought to use a well-tried tool of community analysis and development planning - the Development Wheel - to kick-start collaboration and action amongst a range of organizations with an interest in supporting social enterprise.

The Project showed how necessary organizational capacity is at a regional level to promote, target and support social enterprise. Capacity at the local level is not always cost-effective; capacity at the provincial level does not address local needs well. The Project also rehearsed how difficult and rewarding it is to build and maintain coalitions of diverse stakeholders. Ironically, the idea that social enterprise infrastructure should crystallize around a single tool remains unconfirmed.

A practitioner-led experiment in social enterprise development
Colussi, Michelle
McNair, Don
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