Champion of care

Jul 7th, 2023

Susan White

Memorial’s Centre for Social Enterprise (CSE) has received a national award for its efforts to bolster healthy communities through purchasing power.

The centre recently received a Social Procurement Champion Award from Buy Social Canada, a national organization that aims to redefine how goods and services are bought and sold through social procurement advocacy, education and consulting.

Three women stand with their arms resting on a high white table.
From left are Sarah Croft, Mariana Jiménez Ojeda and Dr. Gillian Morrissey are staff at Memorial’s Centre for Social Enterprise. Missing from the photo is Alyssa King.

“Our work in social procurement over the past year is our first major effort in this particular area so it’s incredibly humbling to receive this honour from Buy Social Canada,” said Dr. Gillian Morrissey, the centre’s manager. “It validates the work we’re doing and further motivates us to continue on this path.”

Social procurement includes practices, policies or strategies that build additional value into purchasing and spending. This value may be environmental, cultural or social.

“Together, with our local partners, we aim to make social procurement the rule, not the exception, in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Dr. Morrissey.

Created to be different

The CSE was launched in 2017 through a unique partnership between the Faculty of Business Administration and the Schools of Social Work and Music.

It was created to enhance the quality of human experience by nurturing social entrepreneurs, strengthening social enterprises and driving social innovation throughout the province – fostering what the CSE calls an “economy of care.”

“Social procurement is a critical component of the economy of care,” said Dr. Morrissey. “It’s a tool to create value through purchasing policies and strategies. Even individual consumers can create social, economic, cultural or environmental impact with their personal purchases.”

“Social procurement is a critical component of the economy of care.”— Dr. Gillian Morrissey

Buy Social Canada’s awards program aims to shine a light on organizations doing important work to support and advance social procurement in their communities, said Executive Director Elizabeth Chick-Blount.

“We’re thrilled to recognize the hard work and dedication towards social procurement and social enterprise at Memorial,” she said. “The Centre for Social Enterprise has grounded its work in community and is working hard to inspire and support future leaders who will help to transform the marketplace.”


Among its achievements in the social procurement space is leading the founding of the Newfoundland and Labrador Social Enterprise and Innovation Coalition.

The CSE is one of nine organizations involved in the coalition, which aims to promote social innovation, strengthen social enterprises and develop a well-articulated social finance ecosystem.

In November of 2022, the coalition hosted the province’s first Social Procurement Summit, which brought together 89 leaders from 49 organizations to examine what social procurement could look like in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Six recommendations emerged from the summit that aim to create a sustainable and adaptable framework to inform the provincial government’s Social Procurement Policy for public sector buying. This policy is currently being developed by the Public Procurement Agency.

Mariana Jiménez Ojeda, CSE’s social finance and impact investment project co-ordinator, says the centre practices what it preaches. For example, the centre uses Hungry Heart Café, a social enterprise of Stella’s Circle, to cater events.

“We believe business not as usual is the path to healthier communities.”— Mariana Jiménez Ojeda

The centre also is a partner in the Atlantic Social Impact Summit being held in St. John’s this September.

“We believe that thriving social purpose organizations will lead to community prosperity,” said Ms. Jiménez Ojeda. “We believe business not as usual is the path to healthier communities.”

Co-award winners

Buy Social Canada named two other organizations with 2023 Social Procurement Champion Awards.

Momentum supports social procurement and social enterprise as a means to reduce poverty in Calgary.

We Want to Work is a collaboration between social enterprises and business sectors that supports social, economic and environmental health in Manitoba.