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Social enterprises - defined as organizations that make money and deliver social or environmental benefits - have proven to be profitable and sustainable on a global scale.

Companies are no longer strictly concerned with lining shareholders' pockets. More and more, they're turning their attention to some of Canada's biggest social challenges.

Allyson Hewitt, who heads the social innovation practice at MaRS, welcomes this shift in attitude. "[Businesses]realize now that a social mission can have a positive impact on their bottom line," she says.

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Young people entering the workforce are also adjusting their priorities, which is one of the reasons the Young Social Entrepreneurs of Canada (YSEC) was founded. The organization considers itself a hub for connections, education and support of young people in social enterprise.

If there's opportunity in the social enterprise sector, how can a company bridge the not-for-profit and for-profit gap? What key ingredients are required to start a social enterprise? And does it really make financial sense to take on a social mission?

YSEC founder Nogah Kornberg and Ms. Hewitt were here to take your questions on the social enterprise sector and address the obstacles that hinder these types of hybrid organizations. Readers using mobile phones should follow this link.

For a transcript of the discussion, click on the box below.



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