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Provoking innovation through stories of social entrepreneurship

October 31, 2017

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.

Fueling a movement

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


Mozilla was born from the free and open source software movement. And, as a part of this larger movement, Mozilla helped make open mainstream. We toppled a monopoly, got the web back on an open track, and put open source software into the hands of hundreds of millions of people.

It’s time for us to do this again. Which brings me to this blog’s topic:
where should Mozilla Foundation focus its effort over the next five years?

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know
the answer we gave to this question back in June was ‘web literacy’. We dug deep into this thinking over the summer and early fall. As we did, we realized: we need to think more broadly. We need to champion web literacy, but we also need to champion privacy and tinkering and the health of the public internet. We need to fully embrace the movement of people who are trying to make open mainstream again, and add fuel to it. Building on a Mozilla strategy town hall talk I gave last week (see: video and slides), this post describes how we came to this conclusion and where we’re headed with our thinking.

Bundles of Hope

“The most valuable resources we found for our venture was making connections and talking to people who are already entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs can help you establish your support network, which is extremely valuable.” –Willis Tat, Co-Founder, Bundles of Hope

Stepping into the
University of Calgary‘s Entrepreneurship 317 class, three Haskayne Business students could not have predicted a class project would transform into a successful social venture creating change. The project tasked students Miranda Mantey, Willis Tat, and Justin Wood to address a world issue. The result was the creation of One World Blankets a social enterprise that sought to employ local weavers in India to make blankets that would be sold in North America. Proceeds would not only provide employment in India, they would be utilized for vaccinations in India.bundlesofhopeheadshots

Where are all the young Edisons of the 21st century?

I’ve got a question for you. Who’s more likely to change the world?

A bunch of billionaires and world leaders talking shop in the Swiss Alps? Or a teenager nobody’s heard of yet, working away in a dorm room on a crazy idea that’s going to be the Next Big Thing?

A hundred years ago the answer would have been clear. These days, it’s a toss-up.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave a keynote in Davos this week, he spoke of the importance of innovation, of how he wants Canadians to be known not for their resources but for their ‘resourcefulness’. He also vowed that his government is willing to invest in the future.

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