News release

New Opportunities for Social Entrepreneurs

Nova Scotians who want to start a business and help communities will benefit from new legislation introduced today, Nov. 28.

The Community Interest Companies Act, introduced by Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations Minister John MacDonell, will allow businesses formed under the Companies Act to be designated as community interest companies. They will have characteristics of both businesses and non-profits, combining entrepreneurship with a social purpose.

"With this act, the government is helping Nova Scotia respond to 21st-century opportunities and trends," said Mr. MacDonell. "We are making it easier for Nova Scotians to start businesses that can benefit the economy and create employment, while contributing to a social good.

"Social entrepreneurism is a global trend that our government is paying close attention to and is committed to growing in Nova Scotia."

Social enterprises are businesses whose primary purpose is the common good. They use business practices to advance social, environmental or community goals. Examples may include farmers' markets, used clothing banks, community-owned wind farms and businesses run by charitable organizations. They often have a buy local focus and are gaining momentum worldwide as people seek to create, and support businesses, that contribute to the common good.

"Nova Scotia is a national leader in the development of community and social enterprise," said David Upton, president, Atlantic Council for Community and Social Enterprise.

"The Community Interest Companies legislation is another tool that empowers communities to undertake initiatives that meet their needs. It will enable new types of partnerships and will allow community organizations to access additional sources of capital without eliminating any of the existing sources."

"Innovative governments around the world are recognizing the powerful role of hybrid companies for unlocking new ways to generate meaningful local employment and economic wealth," said Tim Draimin, executive director of the Social Innovation Generation. "Nova Scotia's Community Interest Companies Act will give the province a head start in unlocking new wellsprings of entrepreneurial creativity and community wealth."

Nova Scotia has a long-standing tradition of social enterprise dating back to the early co-operative and credit union movements. Current legislation does not fully address their needs.

The government recognizes the role of social enterprise through jobsHere, and is committed to strengthening the sector. This legislation helps fulfills that commitment by regulating social enterprise. In April, the province announced $2-million in funding to support small-business loans for social enterprise through the Credit Union Small Business Loan program. This funding was the first step in the social enterprise strategy.


Nova Scotians wanting to start a business and help communities will be assisted by the Community Interest Companies introduced today, November 28th.

They will use business practices to advance social, community or environmental goals, combining entrepreneurship with a social purpose. Examples may include community-owned wind farms or businesses that invest their profits into charitable organizations.

John MacDonell, Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, says they will benefit the economy and create jobs, while contributing to a social good.