It’s often been reported by social innovators that they feel alone when facing professional challenges.
In October 2018, 46 socially-minded entrepreneurs, innovators, and community changemakers headed to Banff for the first-ever Social Venture Institute (SVI) Alberta. The gathering was hosted by Social Enterprise Fund and Thrive, in partnership with Hollyhock, a leadership institute on the west coast. This program has been offered by Hollyhock for over 25 years.
“Social Venture Institute offers the mission-based entrepreneur an opportunity to share challenges, successes, and experiences with peers in an atmosphere of trust and goodwill,” according to the Hollyhock website. The conference was intended to be a two-day bootcamp for fostering connections and authenticity to overcome individual struggles in running a social-purpose venture.
Returning on June 5-7, 2019, SVI Alberta is now spanning two and a half days with even more capacity for social innovators from all corners of the province working to create change in business, government, and non-profit sectors. This year will also see a new focus on sharing tools and resources to overcome challenges these changemakers have faced, to help others conquer their own challenges.
“This means more time with this one-of-kind community of fellow social-venture leaders, more learning, more inspiration, more connections to leaders and resources, more impact,” says Philip Lozano, Community Economic Development Coordinator at Thrive. “You’ll also have more time to dive in deep into your own impact initiative and learn from each other.”
Stephanie Jackman, Founder and Board Chair of REAP Business Association – a networking group for Calgary’s locally-owned green businesses – was among the attendees last year, “to meet and learn from Alberta’s social innovators,” she says.
Jackman also presented her own case study, which offered “the additional benefit of having focussed attention on a particular business challenge through a facilitated process, combining expert panelists and the leveraged collective wisdom of the larger group.”
“I had many personal ‘aha moments’ both about my business and my leadership style. I learned that there is a lot of support out there for people like me who are using their gifts to create the world we dream of.”
Matt Youens attended, too, seeking to align his Calgary-based consulting firm Human Elements Canada Ltd with the demographic of social and non-profit organizations it serves through strategic planning and human resources.
“I learned that I’m not alone,” Youens says. “That there is a tribe of social-minded, do-gooders, who also happen to think positive change can also have a financial profit.”
Both Jackman and Youens unanimously recommend SVI to any entrepreneur who’s working in the social profit sector or looking to make a change for purposeful good with their business.
“So often the work we do is done in isolation when it would be easier and more fulfilling to do it in collaboration with peers,” Jackman says.
“You’ll find those peers at SVI Alberta.”