Business : A SSW’s Nightmare? by Denae Burchall

Denae BurchallCommunity. Counselling. Empowerment. All words that come to mind when I think about “social work”.

Marketing Plans. Environmental Scans. SWOT analysis. Social Work? Not so much.

A social workers dream is to get into their field and feed the change that is needed in their own societies. However the face of social work is changing with social innovative projects and ideas being developed and streamlined. The new kid on the block, social enterprise is growing rapidly in the community, and making a name for its self. While some are apprehensive about the “mash up” of social work and the business world, many others are joining the social entrepreneurship movement to address gaps in the society as well as create socially lucrative and self-sustaining business ventures.

While we have a great support system some are confused about of how a second year social service worker placement and the ideas of innovation and entrepreneurship intertwine. Would it be more beneficial for a SSW future to seek out a placement in a food bank or shelter? How would a SSW grow from learning about social business rather than the traditional clinical environment that most students wish for?

When meeting with individuals with a business background, it was second nature to me, being a social service worker student to point out what I considered the social shortcomings of their business views.  With help from Enactus, a team of students who promote entrepreneurship within the college I was able to make sense of the business world.

We have visited and made meaningful connections with Social Enterprises across Toronto like Lemon and All Spice, hubs such as Centre for Social Innovation – Regent Park and the Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone,  as well as community innovators who have joined our team as advisers. Along with the education from the Social Enterprise Course, the direction of our directors Natalie and Zuby and the partnerships and networks we have formed, we have gained a better understanding of the roles that Hubs and Social Enterprise play in the community and established best practices.

With that being said, business doesn’t have to be a social worker’s nightmare rather an ally and another way to connect the community and bring people together. Social Enterprise is not traditional social work however it is a new face of business that strives to make the world a better place.

– Denae Burchall

This is apart of a series of pieces written by the hubsters to reflect their personal experiences during placement in The Social Innovation Hub.


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