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Truth and Reconciliation

October 31, 2017

NOTE: This article was originally published on Higher Education Strategy Associates and has been cross-posted with permission. It is the fourth post in our series on Indigenous Innovation and Education.


Last week, the University of Toronto’s Truth and Reconciliation Steering Committee released its final report, which sets out the institution’s response to the TRC’s Calls to Action. This seems like a good time to update my previous coverage on this.

First, I should say that on the whole I have been impressed by the response of the country’s universities and colleges to the TRC. I think there has been a commendable level of commitment shown by institutional leaders in trying to respond, as bet they can, to Justice (now Senator) Sinclair’s report. For the most part, institutions are getting better at creating and maintaining indigenous spaces, but that’s a fairly low-impact commitment. Many are saying the right things about trying to hire more indigenous staff, both academic and non-academic, though it will take years to see whether or not this actually comes to anything.

Social Entrepreneurship with a Clear Vision

NOTE: This article was originally published on Carleton Stories and has been cross-posted with permission of the author.


Babur Jahid, a third-year Biology and Health Sciences student at Carleton, has a clear vision for the road ahead.


After graduating, he plans to follow his passion for medicine to Harvard and complete the MD/MBA program. Then he’ll return to his native Afghanistan and work with the government to make health care more accessible.

Ultimately, he wants to become the country’s Minister of Public Health.

These goals may sound audaciously ambitious, but when you consider the 21-year-old’s accomplishments to date — including embracing social entrepreneurship to create a social enterprise that will provide affordable eyeglasses to Afghans — they seem not only within reach but also a pretty good bet.

“I want to use the opportunities I’ve had to make the world a better place,” says Jahid, who arrived in Canada as a refuge via the United States in 2013. “It’s my obligation.”

Third-year Biology and Health Sciences student, Babur Jahid
Third-year Biology and Health Sciences student Babur Jahid. Photo by Chris Roussakis.

Confronting Wicked Problems: LabWISE Recap

NOTE: This article was originally published on Shift Lab and has been cross-posted with permission. It is the second post in our series on Social Innovation Labs.


How do we deal with “wicked” problems? Problems that defy easy, straightforward answers; problems riddled with incomplete, unknown or shifting information; problems that frequently bedevil decision-makers in the policy, non-profit and public administration spaces? Well, we squirrelled away to the Musqueam Cultural Centre on Coast Salish territory at the fingernail-tip of Vancouver to find out, courtesy of the
Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience (WISIR), and its groundbreaking LabWISE program.

The LabWISE Process

The Shift Lab Stewardship team with Frances Westley, Cheryl Rose, and LabWISE mentors.
The Shift Lab Stewardship team with Frances Westley, Cheryl Rose, and LabWISE mentors.

LabWISE was a three-day workshop geared at helping organizations create and launch social innovation labs to tackle their respective wicked problems. These groups represented a spectrum of social innovation: from environmental awareness and Indigenous education to healthcare advocacy and poverty reduction and many other issues. Many of these teams were just starting out on their systems thinking journeys, so no two organizations came at this from the same perspective.

Provoking innovation through stories of social entrepreneurship

NOTE: This article was originally published on the SiG website and has been cross-posted with the permission of the author.


“The truth about stories is that that’s all we are…”

― Thomas King,
The Truth About Stories (2003)


In 2015, the
Trico Charitable Foundation published four extensive case studies on the 2013 Social EnterPrize winners. Each case study was developed in partnership with the winning social enterprise and a post-secondary institution, converging the rigor of frontline experiential learning with the rigor of a critical academic lens.

The result? “A series of
social entrepreneurship case studies that, in terms of the breadth of the organizations studied and the depth of the analysis, is the first of its kind in Canada” (Trico Charitable Foundation, April 2015). Together, each social enterprise and academic team revealed and codified key insights, challenges and lessons from these four thriving social enterprises.

INNOVATING INNOVATION: Connecting technological, business and social innovation

NOTE: This article was originally published on the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation website and has been cross-posted with the permission of the author.


We have reached a watershed moment.

After a century of robust development of technological and business innovation, plus several decades of cracking the code of social innovation, the time has come to create an integrated innovation system.Innovation has long been recognized as necessary for a nation’s economic and business success. But citizens have relied on a trickle down approach for the benefits from technological and business innovation to trigger broad societal well-being. Unfortunately today’s social, ecological and economic problems – ranging from preventable chronic disease to social exclusion to youth unemployment to climate change – are escalating in scale, severity and urgency. They won’t wait for laissez-faire innovation. Society’s needs and innovation’s benefits can be more directly connected and aligned. The opportunity of the 21st century is to harness the combined power of social innovation and mainstream (technological and business) innovation.

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Student Learns It Takes a Community to Serve a Community

Student Learns It Takes a Community to Serve a Community

“It’s been so meaningful to know that there are others who are going through something similar and who understand that each day is a little different. Sometimes, it’s okay not to feel okay. As long as we can find our way out of the darkness and find a space to ignite our passions.”

Zoya Jiwa is hoping to make a statement in the fashion and social impact worlds by creating an online platform where people with health conditions can creatively come together. At the young age of 14, Zoya was diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease that can create inflammation in an individual’s organs. She also lives with fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by intense pain in muscles and soft tissues. By personally understanding how health conditions can be an overwhelming challenge, especially when it comes to what to wear and how comfortable the clothing is, Zoya has developed the safe haven of As We Are to create a community of understanding. According to its website, As We Are “is a space where comfort meets style, where functional fashion thrives, and where courage shines.” As We Are works to alleviate shared pain by exchanging strategies, sharing personal stories, and finding different ways to build self-confidence. This project does not believe in the commonly perpetuated idea that people can only live a vibrant life after they get better from their ailments. As We Are aims to create a space where people can celebrate and embrace themselves as they are in the present.

Moving Past Add-ons and Division: Social x Entrepreneurship

We at the Trico Charitable Foundation are embracing a new tagline:

Social Entrepreneurship = Social x Entrepreneurship

We can sum up how we came to this point, and the layered meaning in this deceptively simple equation, in three key inflection points:

Inflection Point One: Moving Past (Through?) The Dreaded Definition Debate and on to the Core Elements of Social Entrepreneurship

If we have learned anything from the ongoing debates about the definition of social entrepreneurship it’s: a) there is no one single definition and b) one’s goals invariably shape how one defines social entrepreneurship.

Social Entrepreneurship Capstone Project

Dr. Muhammad Yunus is an inspiring individual. He has dedicated his life to not only helping others, but to creating systems that allow others to be able to help themselves. Recently, I was able to travel to Berlin, Germany to attend the 7th Global Social Business Summit, of which Dr. Yunus was a host. Those in attendance were able to hear him speak of an ideal world with zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero net carbon emissions. Imagine living in a world where those three zeros are a reality. Is it possible? As a Global Studies student, I am critical. As a Social Entrepreneurship student, I am hopeful.

Moving from Startup to Growth: 7 Surprising Changes during 7 Years leading Ashoka U

NOTE: This article was originally published here and has been cross-posted with the permission of the author.


The last seven years working on Ashoka U have been a rollercoaster, but I have to admit that I loved every minute. Over the years, it has been fascinating to observe (and tackle) the changing nature of the challenges that have arisen through the course of building a team and growing a global program.

Looking back, it always seemed that as soon as we would start to figure things out in one domain or successfully fight a fire, another would erupt elsewhere. And just as we would settle into our groove as a high-performing startup team, there would be an infusion of new ideas that pushed us to grow to a new team size, budget or level of ambition.

As I look back, there are some fundamental shifts in operating, thinking and leading when you compare the first few years of a startup to the later years of a maturing organization. Here are Ashoka U’s top 7 areas of change:

(1) Mindset: Moving from an invincibility mindset to a risk management mindset

To get things launched, you have to entirely believe in your vision when no one else does and not be afraid to take big chances.

Once you’ve gained some maturity and started to experience progress, you need to spend more time making sure to not undo the strong foundation you have already build. It is important to foresee any potential problems and manage risks to ensure on-going success. In the beginning you have more to gain than lose from taking risks, but at a certain point, you are successful enough that you start worrying about losing what you have created.

The Ultimate Guide to Competitive Analysis

NOTE: This article was originally published on the FounderFuel website, and has been cross-posted with permission.


How will your business compete?


The purpose of performing a competitive analysis is to answer this question and provide you with the tools to blow your competition away. If performed properly, you will establish how you are or can be unique, where your competitive advantage lies, and perhaps most importantly, it will build confidence with your investors. You will better understand the market, more aptly target customers, keep tabs on competition, make more practical decisions and ultimately, over time, track trends and market scenarios.

What follows is five case studies that exemplify the importance of performing a thorough competitive analysis. Following from these case studies is a detailed breakdown of how you can perform one of your own.

CASE STUDY 1: MARVEL WORLDWIDE INC.

The question ‘what makes us human?’ fuelled a ten-year debate between
Marvel Comics and the United States Court of International Trade. Marvel argued that their action figures were toys (‘representations of nonhuman creatures’) rather than dolls (‘representations of humans’). While dolls were being taxed at a rate of 12%, toys were taxed at just 6.8%. Marvel’s research on this distinction would end up saving the company millions of dollars. Competitive analyses, like the one Marvel undoubtedly carried out, have the potential to reveal more than just direct competition. You’ll see why below.

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