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What is an Employment Social Enterprise?

Employment social enterprises are businesses that create training and employment opportunities for people facing systemic barriers to entry into the mainstream labour market. ESEs are a sub-category of social enterprises. The Toronto Enterprise Fund exclusively supports employment social enterprises (ESEs).

Employment social enterprises are started and run by both individual entrepreneurs and by non-profit organizations. ESEs are launched by individuals and agencies to create training and employment opportunities for a client group who are experiencing significant barriers to entry into the labour market.

Employment social enterprises provide supported training, employment and wraparound supports to employees, enabling them to obtain and maintain employment. ESEs have demonstrated success in increasing employee’s income, increasing attachment to the labour market, improving health, increasing housing security, and keeping people out of the criminal justice system. 

ESEs are active in many industries, including: recycling, retail, food services, and more – and serve a variety of people facing barriers to the labour market, including: people with disabilities, people with criminal records, newcomers, and more. ESEs vary widely in size, from small ventures of under $10,000 to multi-million dollar undertakings; and they operate both in urban centres and in rural communities.

There are an estimated 70+ employment social enterprises in the Toronto region, including those featured on the map below. Employment social enterprises can be found in many communities across Canada, and around the world.


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