“My eyes were opened more than I would have anticipated and changed my perspective on how we are doing things in my own business. I highly recommend going to the Social Finance Forum.”-Spencer Burton, President, Green Cup
Held at the MaRs Centre for Impact Investing Incubator, the 9th annual Social Finance Forum (SFF) event in November 2016 brought together Canadian social entrepreneurs, social finance professionals, and impact investors to discuss best practices of business and community building. Through discussions around key insights and highlights with several individuals who attended the event, it is clear the SFF stimulated two crucial themes: networking and unifying social enterprise knowledge across Canada.
New for 2016, was the Venture Village where Canadian ventures pitched their businesses live on stage. Ken Bautista, COO of the social enterprise Localize describes his thoughts on the additional perk:
“One of the best things we did was the breakfast with all of the groups who were in the Venture Village. It was a really great chance to talk to the other entrepreneurs.”
The first insight highlighted by the SFF attendees was the importance of building relationships via networking. Spencer Burton, President of Green Cup explains:
“I made a lot of good connections and it was interesting to bounce ideas back and forth with other entrepreneurs.”
For Bautista, the SFF identified the importance of events like the SFF:
“It’s very interesting seeing the sector and conversations evolve in the past couple of years. What was reinforced [at the SFF] was for the best way to deliver on impact is to build a really good company in terms of building a really great business. That is what people will invest in, just like any other business.”
Kevin Davies Founder and CEO of Hop Compost agreed with Burton and Bautista on the significance of interacting with fellow attendees:
“The opportunity to network, especially between the breaks, was the biggest highlight for me.”
All three social entrepreneurs cite that it was a great opportunity to see how far along Eastern Canada, in particular Toronto, is in regards to social enterprise. Davies explains:
“It feels like Alberta is a bit disconnected from social enterprise and social finance compared to the East coast of Canada and I would really like cross that bridge moving forward. The biggest opportunity is trying to unify the Canadian network from East to West.”
Bautista ends our interview with a call to action moving forward:
“It goes back to asking ‘are we starting to see action now?’. I think now there has been some significant investments and we are starting to see some return but it is still emerging. It reinforces on us to build a really great business that happens to be very mission driven.”
As we look forward to the 10th annual SFF in 2017, we hope to continue the conversation and dive deeper into the above themes addressed by the 2016 participants we interviewed. By keeping the two themes in this article in mind (networking and unifying social enterprise knowledge across Canada) we are hopeful a ripple effect will expand across Canada in regards to social entrepreneurship.
“The Social Finance Forum really gives you a renewed passion for your idea” Spencer Burton, President, Green Cup
Trico Charitable Foundation was honoured to sponsor the Social Venture Village at this year’s SFF, which showcased the following organizations: Building Up, Eva’s Initiatives for Homeless Youth, Exeko, Hop Compost, impak Finance, Inner Analytics, Jump Math, Doctr.ca, Localize, Out of this World Cafe & Catering, & Soular.