The Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network (WOSEN) is a province-wide collaborative composed of five social innovation and system change organizations aiming to redesign the entrepreneurial ecosystem to meet the needs of women and non-binary founders from diverse, equity-seeking groups. WOSEN’s focus is women who have business solutions that put people and the planet first (i.e., social enterprises). Its approach intentionally moves away from current services and financing structures that are readily available and easy to deliver largely due to their limited relevance and accessibility for those that fall outside of the dominant culture, choosing instead to develop a model that holistically supports diverse entrepreneurs’ learning journeys and aspirations. Since its launch in 2019, this approach has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs across Ontario to start and grow their businesses and has unlocked millions of dollars in capital for these initiatives.
The collaborative intentionally developed three interconnected strategies to activate systems change and advance equity in entrepreneurial systems. The Centring Equity report illustrates how they engaged founders and ecosystem supporters (e.g., business developers, coaches, funders/investors) in emergent collaborative and co-creative practices that provide space for knowledge sharing and cogenerating innovative pathways forward to support women-owned and women-led ventures.
The report contextualizes the initiative within current social change practices and community development principles. Its aim is to advance equity, providing a critical reflection on WOSEN’s approach to and resulting impact on participants and the entrepreneurial ecosystem. It is the second publication capturing the initiative’s collaborative learning and impact. The first report, Outstanding By Standing Together, The Story of WOSEN, Interim Report is also available here.
The initiative is led by Pillar Nonprofit Network in partnership with NORDIK Institute, Social Innovation Canada, and Social Venture Connexion with support from Lean4Flourishing and funded, in part, by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).
- NORDIK Institute
- Centre for Social Innovation