When I started writing for SocialFinance.ca, I had the intention to write about events unfolding in social enterprise within Western Canada. I’ve broadened my perspective since then, but I’m always looking for great news from the West that I can share.  Today, I’m particularly excited to share the news that a new foundation in Calgary has committed itself to furthering the social entrepreneurship movement.

The Trico Charitable Foundation has announced three major initiatives to encourage and promote social entrepreneurship in Calgary, Alberta and across Canada. Keeping in mind the challenges and complexity of social enterprise development, the Foundation has partnered with a number of organizations to help spearhead interest and investment in social enterprise.

The first initiative is a $500,000 investment over five years into the Canadian Youth Business Foundation’s (CYBF) “socialprenuer” Alberta initiative. The program at CYBF will assist socially-minded Alberta entrepreneurs, between the ages of 18 and 34, in the establishment of new businesses. While both the Trico Charitable Foundation and CYBF are non-profits, they understand the impact of encouraging the social business space, especially for future entrepreneurs.

On the non-profit/social enterprise side, the Foundation is launching Enterprising Non-Profits Alberta. This is a joint initiative with Enterprising Non-Profits, a program based out of Vancouver. An additional $500,000 will be directed to non-profit organizations in Alberta interested in launching social enterprises.  This will empower Alberta’s non-profit organizations to enhance their sustainability by providing grants and technical assistance in support of the development and growth of their “profit-generating” social enterprises.

In addition to educating and investing within the sector, the Foundation has also created the Social EnterPrize to recognize leaders in social enterprise. The Social EnterPrize will be a cash award given annually to two individuals and two organizations working in social enterprise in the non-profit sector. The goal of the award is to assist social enterprise leaders in both personal and organizational development. The 2011 Social EnterPrizes will be awarded on November 17, and Calgary’s Mayor Naheed Nenshi will be the keynote speaker.

All three initiatives will help advance the social entrepreneurship movement in Calgary, Alberta, and across Canada. I’m pleased to be part of the team as Program Manager for the Enterprising Non-Profits Alberta program. Please connect with us via our website at www.tricofoundation.ca and on Twitter at @tricofoundation. It’s exciting to see such a substantial and wide-reaching investment in the social entrepreneurship movement.

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