ME to WE: A social enterprise enabling people to do good through their everyday choices
Founded in 2009 to provide economic opportunity in WE Village communities and a sustainable source of funding for WE Charity, ME to WE has grown into a global force for good.
ME to WE Social Enterprises supports the work of WE Charity through three principle avenues
- Annual donations averaging over 90% of its profits to WE Charity (read more). Over the years, ME to WE Social Enterprise has donated in excess of 20-million dollars in cash and cost-offsetting in-kind services.
- Creating empowering jobs in underserved rural WE Village regions around the world in eco-travel, artisans products, and Fairtrade consumables to help families lift themselves out of poverty.
- Providing services to assist the charity, especially hosting at ME to WE travel locations WE Charity donors who are visiting charity projects and youth service trip scholarship. This has resulted in tens of millions of dollars directly donated by these funders to WE Charity.
A few quick facts:
- To ensure the highest propriety in our finances and governance, external experts helped to deign the social enterprise structure. ME to WE’s business structure, and the legal relationship to WE Charity, have been reviewed by multiple eminent legal experts including the former Prime Minister John Turner and former Supreme Court of Canada Justice Peter Cory.
- Auditors have confirmed that no dividends have ever been paid by ME to WE Social Enterprise. Meaning, since founding, 100% profit have either been donated to WE Charity for social impact programs or reinvested to grow ME to WE Social Enterprise and its social mission (read more). ME to WE Social Enterprise clearly exists for social impact.
- Both internal controls, external reviews, and auditors have confirmed that any financial interactions between the two entities has ensured that WE Charity has disproportionality benefited. For example, ME to WE has developed staffing and capabilities to host service trips at locations near WE Village communities. When requested by WE Charity, ME to WE will host youth on trip scholarship or host WE Charity donors.
- In order to ensure full transparency, the Honourable Stephen T. Goudge conducted a 2019 review of ME to WE, including the salaries of its co-founders Craig Kielburger and Marc Kielburger. All is publicly available here.
- To ensure that the jobs and social impact of ME to WE meet the highest standers, ME to WE practices and sourcing been independently reviewed by BCorp and Fairtrade Foundation.
When we launched ME to WE, the idea of social enterprise was still relatively new in Canada. Although we were building on the work of pioneers like Grameen Bank, Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, Canadian business and tax laws still made it difficult to earn profit to support a charitable cause. Canadian CRA regulations limit the ability of charities to engage in commerce. In order to follow CRA guidelines, a separate legal entity was launched: ME to WE Social Enterprise.
To build a successful social enterprise model, and ensure the highest propriety in our finances and governance, we called on independent expertise, and engaged multiple experts and legal groups to review the structure.
Jason Saul, CEO of Mission Measurement, conducted a review of ME to WE, and concluded: “What I found most impressive is the ME to WE business model: the organization is designed to be financially self-sufficient by using market-based strategies to advance important social outcomes. I think that ME to WE should serve as an exemplar for how to generate economic value by advancing a social mission.”