Could people better chase their dreams with basic income?

For many years, Regent Park resident Sam Haque thought the Disney adage: “If you can dream it, you can do it” was advice only for people of privilege.

“I thought it was only something rich parents tell their children,” he says. “But I’m proof that everyone can do it. And that’s the message I’m trying to get out there.”

Haque, 35, who came to Toronto with his mother from Bangladesh when he was 15, turned his back on an opportunity to go to law school about eight years ago to follow his passion for doodling and design, and created Wise Media.

But it wasn’t until he joined Regent Park’s Centre for Social Innovation four years ago that he felt the true social mission of his graphic design and printing business.

“When you get a job, you are only helping yourself,” he says. “But when you become a social entrepreneur, you can help a whole lot of other people by giving them jobs too.”

Haque is an example of the kind of social entrepreneur that could benefit enormously from a basic income, says a thought-provoking report to be released Thursday.

“What if the people who were most at risk — people from low-income and marginalized communities who are living day to day with real challenges — were able to become social entrepreneurs?” asks the report by the Mowat Centre, a public policy think tank affiliated with the University of Toronto.

“With the right support, these are the folks who will unlock meaningful work for people, create vibrant communities and solve intractable problems,” adds the report, which drew on research from Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation (CSI).

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