Opening the door for social venture leaders at SVI

This blog has been reposted with permission from the Social Enterprise Fund, with our sincere thanks to Jane Bisbee.

Entrepreneurs, and in particular social entrepreneurs are usually moving pretty fast. Too fast, it would seem to sit (or even stand) and reflect on what they are doing. And often, too busy to look for and find their “tribe.”  

For a few years at SEF, as I worked with ever increasing numbers of social entrepreneurs, I began to think we needed to get all these incredible people in a room together. There was just so much to share and learn. Sure, there were lots of gatherings for those of us interested in the field of social finance, but rarely a place where the focus was the entrepreneurs themselves.  The guys in the trenches, doing the work.  

I used to joke that one of the best things we could do for social entrepreneurs in Alberta would be to get them all in a room, lock the door and run away. They’d be stuck talking to each other.  

As it turns out, you don’t need to lock the door.  

In October 2018, my dream scenario came true with the inaugural Social Venture Institute (SVI) Alberta at the Banff Centre.  

SVI Hollyhock is the grandmother of several similar gatherings where the focus is on integrated peer-to- peer learning for those trying to change the world, and the world of business in the process. Immersing yourself in the Hollyhock experience in Cortez Island is magic, and I was crazy enough to think we could create an Alberta version on this side of the mountains. It turned out that Jeff Loomis of Momentum in Calgary had the same idea.  

SEF and Momentum teamed up, and approached the SVI folks in BC. Would they allow us to use their format?  They said yes, and became the guiding mentors behind the Alberta organizers. So far, so good.  

When we opened registration, the Alberta summer was well upon us. I figured we would still be working to convince people to come right up to Thanksgiving dinner.  I was wrong, really wrong, and by mid-July, we were already directing people to the ‘wait list’.  

The event itself was a pretty intense 24 hours. Two case studies, a ‘true confession’ and lots of peer-to-peer interaction. The weather was glorious, but nobody snuck away early to hike tunnel mountain. There was just too much to talk about and share.  

The feedback was pretty unanimous. Do it again, but two days this time. We want to keep talking.  

And as I said, I didn’t even have to lock the door.