Social Enterprise 101

Social Enterprise is essential in our rapidly evolving world, where the fusion of business strategies and social impact is paramount.

The unique collaboration between OCAD University and the Vaughan, Markham, Richmond Hill and York Region Small Business Enterprise Centres offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to take advantage of this custom-created and delivered 6-week-long micro-credential social enterprise program to residents and entrepreneurs.

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  • Social enterprise refers to an organization whose objective is to have a social impact. Social enterprises are businesses that sell goods and services, embed a social, cultural, or environmental purpose into the business, and reinvest some of their profits into their social mission.

  • This micro-credential course serves as a crucial platform for exploring the dynamic field of social enterprises, where profit-making is seamlessly intertwined with the advancement of societal and environmental well-being. Equipping students with the tools to navigate this multifaceted landscape, this course nurtures innovative thinking and problem-solving skills. By instilling principles of social entrepreneurship and ethical business practices, this micro-credential empowers students to become responsible leaders, capable of creating businesses that make a positive impact on society while meeting the increasing demand for products and services that align with ethical and sustainable values.

  • In the Social Enterprise 101 micro-credential course students will explore the business potential of their own social enterprises (or social enterprise ideas) learning how to combine purpose and profit with today’s global challenges. This micro-credential nurtures innovative thinking and problem-solving skills, critical for addressing pressing global challenges such as climate change, inequality, and financial literacy. Tools and techniques for purpose-driven business planning will be introduced. Topics include business models, business strategy case studies, developing markets, budgeting, decision making, business trends, risk analysis, operating systems, finance, and legal issues. Students will use this information to understand if and how their idea could become a viable business and create a detailed business plan.

    Learning Objectives:

    • Introduce the Concept of Social Enterprise: Provide students with a comprehensive understanding of the concept of social enterprise, emphasizing its unique blend of profit-making and social or environmental mission.
    • Apply Innovative Thinking: Cultivate students’ innovative thinking and problem-solving skills, enabling them to develop creative solutions to complex societal and environmental challenges.
    • Formulate Ethical Business Practices: Instill ethical business practices, transparency, and accountability in students, emphasizing the importance of responsible capitalism and ethical entrepreneurship.
    • Develop Responsible Leadership: Empower students to become responsible and socially conscious leaders, capable of driving positive change in non-profit, not-for-profit, and for-profit sectors.
    • Specify Market Opportunities: Equip students with the knowledge and skills to identify and capitalize on market opportunities for products and services that align with ethical and sustainable values.
    • Practice Interdisciplinary Learning: Promote interdisciplinary learning by drawing from various fields such as business, social sciences, and environmental studies, encouraging students to think holistically and work collaboratively.
    • Manage Economic Growth: Highlight the role of social enterprise in supporting economic growth, job creation, and community development, preparing students to contribute to these aspects in their future careers

Course Information

Date: May 2, 2024 – June 12, 2024

The course will be delivered in a combination of online and asynchronous format with instructors’ lead sessions every Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m

Expression of Interest

If you are interested in attending this program, or require more information, please fill out the form below and a member of the VBEC will reach out to discuss the next steps.

The submission deadline for this form is April 10, 2024.

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  • Entrepreneurs thinking about starting a social enterprise business, either for profit, or not-for-profit
  • Existing business that would like to turn their venture into social enterprise
  • For profit businesses
  • Not-for-profit businesses


  • Entrepreneur, business owner, and students with established businesses or business ideas (for profit and non-profit) with specific social, cultural, or environmental objectives.
  • As part of the modules , you will complete assignments and exercises, relevant to your business or business idea, outlined in the micro-credential. These build towards the required evidence for the micro-credential that is submitted at the end of the micro-credential modules.
  • Instructors assess the student’s work and issue a pass or fail grade (student must receive a passing grade to qualify for the micro-credential).


The unique collaboration between OCAD University and the Vaughan, Markham, Richmond Hill and York Region Small Business Enterprise Centres offers entrepreneurs the opportunity to take advantage of this custom-created and delivered 6-weeks-long micro-credential social enterprise program to Vaughan residents and entrepreneurs at a significantly discounted rate of $250.

Micro-credential is a new model that uses short, focused credentials to verify mastery of a skill or competency, and is designed to target high-demand skills, leading to faster hiring.

The process offers a digital credential, which is the official certification of the acquisition of an individual’s skills or capabilities. It is awarded in a digital form, which is verified, secure and shareable with peers, employers and educational providers.


Iris Elliot

Iris Elliott (she/them) is a Professional Engineer with 16 years of experience in medical device development, including a 9-year tenure as the founder and principal contractor of New Normal Design Consultancy. Throughout her career, she has played a pivotal role in guiding companies and teams towards the successful launch of life-changing products and services, both domestically and internationally.

Her expertise extends across a spectrum of critical areas, from overseeing the industrial contribution to clinical trials to navigating the intricate landscape of regulatory approvals from Health Canada and the FDA. Notably, her contributions have directly resulted in the launch of five imaging products and the co-authorship of three patents in the field of prostate imaging.

In 2020, driven by her passion for continuous learning, Iris returned to graduate school to pursue a Master of Design program in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University. This education equipped her with new tools aligning her career towards dynamic roles in business development and creative technology.

Iris is a systems-focused thinker with a talent for making connections between disparate subjects and ideas who loves helping to grow and sharing bubbles of knowledge. She consistently questions the broader implications and sustainability of what is created and is interested in businesses that foster these values, looking at short term impacts as well as positive systemic change.