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Voor Urban Labs is researching the impacts of North America’s largest social enterprise cluster

Oct 28, 20200 comments

Voor Labs is conducting research on the community economic impact of the social enterprise sector in Vancouver’s inner-city. This is the second year our team is conducting a survey and producing data and analysis for Buy Social Canada, with financial support from the City of Vancouver.

For 20 years, social enterprises in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside have created employment opportunities for thousands of residents, ensured access to affordable goods and services for community residents, and generated millions of dollars in economic activity.

Too often, we see the DTES portrayed as a community of desperation. While there are certainly structural challenges to overcome, Voor Urban Labs is excited to amplify the economic power of residents and community-serving businesses. The social enterprise sector in the area features 88 businesses in a range of sectors from sanitation, food services, and retail creating hope and autonomy for residents every day. How and why these businesses succeed or fail has critical lessons both for residents as well as City of Vancouver policy reviews for CED and poverty reduction.

In 2019, we surveyed 40 of these social enterprises and found they had:

  • documented $26.5 million in sales
  • paid $18.4 million in wages, and
  • created over 2,800 jobs, for which 55% full-time and 90% part-time workers who overcame barriers to employment.
  • Considering models of recircular economics, these wages recirculate exponentially throughout the neighbourhood feeding the local economy. 

Click here to download the 16-page 2019 report (7MB PDF).

This year’s DTES Social Enterprise Impact Survey is live through November 2020 and the online survey takes about 15 minutes to complete. This year’s survey re-measures the sector’s sales and employment figures, and gauges readiness to bid on social procurement bids, such as the new St. Paul’s Hospital. Covid-19 has also added multiple challenges, and it is vital that we learn from its impacts.

Survey participants receive:

  • A 2021 Coast Salish Wild Birds Calendar ($20 value) from the Wild Bird Trust of BC
  • Entry into a prize draw for a $100 gift certificate to EastVan Roasters
  • Free guest list to the Voor Urban Labs’ December 10 Munch! event

Participation in this survey gives us the perspective and voice we need to sustain social enterprises in DTES within the larger region.  

We need combined, anonymous information — no individual data is used or identified from a specific source. Your personal data is secure, and will not be shared or published.

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