CANADA: Mowat Centre Report Shows Impact of Basic Income on Social Entrepreneurship
Pictured: Sam Haque, founder of Wise Media, social entrepreneur in Canada. Credit to: Steve Russell, Toronto Star
Mowat Centre Report shows how basic income can be a transformative support network for social entrepreneurs to solve society’s deeply entrenched issues. The report suggests a thriving social mission ecosystem can be an outcome of basic income that be integrated and measured in ongoing pilots.
Canada is one of many countries leading the world in the new stage of paradigm shift politics by piloting universal basic income in its communities. Anchor institutions have been weighing in on special topics for researchers to consider as basic income pilot projects are ongoing. For example, University of Toronto’s Mowat Centre recently published a report titled, Basic Income Examining the Potential Impact of a Basic Income on Social Entrepreneurs. Authors Michael Urban and Christine Yip highlight the three main pathways basic income may impact social entrepreneurs, including by:
- “Reducing barriers to entry into social entrepreneurship, thereby helping create a more diverse and representative social entrepreneurship community.
- Enabling social entrepreneurs to build their organizations and their own capacities by adding to and improving their skill sets.
- Helping to protect social entrepreneurs against illness and provide the psychological space required for social innovation to occur by reducing individuals’ financial stress and anxiety”
A basic income could help derisk social entrepreneurship “for those whose life circumstances have reduced their ability to absorb the potential downsides of risk-taking.” Poverty as a whole costs Canada between $72 billion and $84 billion annually. A snapshot of experiences of historically marginalized populations in Canada include:
- Indigenous Peoples (including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples) are overrepresented among the population of people experiencing homeless in Canada
- The United Nations has called housing and homelessness a national emergency in Canada
- The cost of socioeconomic disparities in the healthcare system account for 20% of all healthcare spending
- One third of food bank users were children in 2016
- 20% of families of color are experiencing poverty compared to 5% of white families
- All seniors receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement live below the most basic standard of living in Canada calculated at $18,000 per year, whereas seniors receive about $17,000 per year
While precarious employment has increased by 50% in Canada over the past two decades, Mowat Centre posits that universal basic income can empower historically marginalized people to be social entrepreneurs. More importantly, the report suggests empowering this population is particularly important as they can use their lived experience with some of society’s most deeply entrenched social issues to recommend new models of living that are more sustainable and equitable for future generations.
Due to these new policy and economic structures supported by social entrepreneurs, this would lead to a paradigm shift in social interactions that would introduce new ways of thinking and co-existing:
“A basic income could help to shift society from a system where an individual’s worth is determined by the amount of money they earn to one where individuals earn esteem through the ways they choose to use the money to which everyone is automatically entitled. When conceived in this basic way, a basic income represents a validation of every individual’s inherent worth and, by extension, a validation of and a support for their freedom to choose the life path that they see as most appropriate for them and the contributions they make to society in doing so.”
By helping to potentially further support role models and community leaders making positive impacts in their neighborhoods, a basic income is able to make social entrepreneurship a more appealing and viable career path. This may attract a critical mass of people to integrating principles of social entrepreneurship into their ways of living, beyond their career. A basic income can help sustain social entrepreneurship by providing financial protection from unexpected losses in income. Another positive affect is bolstering the holistic health and wellness of a social entrepreneur by reducing stress and anxiety created by financial insecurity and instability. Chronic stress and anxiety can lead to chronic illnesses such as depression, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes among others. Particularly among historically marginalized populations, these chronic illnesses are disproportionately prevalent, which adds to how, under the current structure, they experience increased barriers to social entrepreneurship. By alleviating these stressors, a basic income could be a pathway in healing historical trauma and inequities between classes of people.
However, the Mowat Centre also mentioned a list of outcomes from a basic income that social entrepreneurs and ongoing pilots should consider to create the necessary supports to ensure this social ecosystem can thrive:
- Allocate additional resources from basic income to expanding sufficient support system for social entrepreneurship to ensure accessibility to career pathway and mitigate amount of well-intentioned, but ultimately unproductive business models and innovations
- Consider incentives for cross-sector partnerships in social entrepreneurship to prepare the broader political, economic, and social infrastructure in communities to absorb the potential increase in effort by empowered social entrepreneurs to fulfill their missions
- Ensure sufficient accountability mechanisms through adoption of universal impact measurement practice, training/coaching, and peer-mentoring for social entrepreneurs to achieve quality and standard metrics that are customized to their business model to support the monitoring of outcomes and social impact
- Consider social entrepreneur wage and labor policies to ensure equity between employer, employees and volunteers
- Consider ongoing measurement of social impact in the field based on lived experience of historically marginalized populations to ensure that basic income is not assumed to have solved social issues like poverty or barriers to social mobility, but rather there are metrics to offer ongoing evaluation of status of social issues to inform innovations
More information at:
American Psychological Association, “Understanding chronic stress,” July 2017
Canada Without Poverty, “Just the Facts,” July 2017
Laurie Monsebraaten, “Basic income hailed as way to give people chance to chase their dreams,” Toronto Star, 25th May 2017
Michael Crawford Urban and Christine Yip, “Basic Impact: Examining the Potential Impact of a Basic Income on Social Entrepreneurs,” Mowat Centre, May 2017