The Social Venture Challenge (SVC) is an initiative to encourage, support and grow social ventures through capacity building, mentorship, and business development learning opportunities to non-profit organizations, businesses and entrepreneurs to develop their business concept.
A social venture is an initiative, run by a business, non-profit or solo entrepreneur that uses business strategies to create community impact. Furthermore:
- The common good is its primary purpose, literally ‘baked into’ the organization’s DNA;
- Addressing a cultural, social and/or environmental need is the principal goal of the organization or initiative, which serves the common good through its products and services or through offering employment to people who face barriers to mainstream employment;
- Products and services are delivered through business activities, whether as a significant earned income stream in a non-profit’s revenue sources, or as a for-profit business/enterprise;
- Surpluses and profits are principally reinvested into its social, cultural and/or environmental mandate.
The program kicks off with a speaker / workshop event to raise awareness of social ventures and the program. The core of the program includes a focused period of learning and mentorship followed by three opportunities to refine their pitches; a video, an angel den with expert feedback and a fun Dragons’ Den style community pitch event.
SVC Program Goals
- To raise awareness of social ventures (what they are + the benefits to the community and region)
- To encourage, support and inspire social venture development
- To create a stronger culture of social ventures that can generate greater social impact in the region
Learning: Four cohort-based topic-focused learning sessions on components of business development and the Business Model Canvas.
- Value proposition and customer segments
- Key resources
- Partners and key stakeholders
- Making the pitch
Mentorship: One-on-one support developing business concepts.
Pitching: Participants have wo opportunities to practise their pitches and refine their ability to concisely communicate their business concept, an essential skill in attracting clients, partners and/or investors, and an opportunity to make a pitch in front of a community audience.
- Angle Den: A chance for participants to practise their pitches in front of a panel of ‘experts’ who provide feedback to help them refine and improve their pitches.
- Video: Each participant has an opportunity to revise and fine-tune their pitch in a short video.
- Dragons Den: The program concludes with a Dragons’ Den style pitch event. This popular fun community event is a great opportunity for the participants to increase awareness of their businesses and network with potential partners and customers. The winning pitch receives a cash prize to help support their enterprise development.
Meet the Participants
The SVC program as supported a number of entrepreneurs each year since 2015. Click the links below to learn about our participants.
- Meet the 2015 participants
- Meet the 2016 participants
- Meet the 2017 participants
“The Centre’s Social Venture Challenge was a crucial step in creating our business. The process turned our idea into a solid plan and provided a great overview for our business. From marketing channels to banking info, the course taught us the necessary next steps in order to make our initiative a reality. The Centre’s team was amazing to work with; they were encouraging, knowledgeable and helpful. I would highly recommend this program to anyone with an idea for a social venture.” Jeff Anderson, Co-owner of Dooshi Pet Treats
“I really feel like the whole [Social Venture Challenge] process transformed my big idea and helped lay the foundation for the next step of my social venture. Incredible coaching and networking through the whole process.”
“I thought the program was very well done. I really feel like the whole process transformed my big idea and helped lay the foundation for the next step of my social venture.”
“The lessons learned apply not just to the venture we developed under the SVC but are already being integrated into evaluating future concepts.”
For more information please contact Cheeying Ho, 604-388-8421.