Local Economy Action Network (LEAN) Social Venture ChallengeThe Squamish-Lillooet Region
Social Venture Challenge
Pitch Event


posterThis community event is a fun, fast-paced Dragons’ Den style event where participants in the Social Venture Challenge pitched their burgeoning business ideas. Judges awarded the winning social venture $3,000 start up cash, courtesy of Squamish Savings!




The Social Venture Challenge (SVC) program wrapped up September 30 with a Dragons’ Den style pitch event at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. 

Winner - The Freed Food SocietyEight social entrepreneurs from the SVC program pitched their business concept to a panel of judges and a packed room of over 80 people. The judges awarded Pol Lapeira from the Freed Food Society the $3000 prize, courtesy of Squamish Savings Credit Union (a division of Vancity).

The Freed Food Society saves edible goods from supermarkets that are going to be discarded and upcycles them into canned products such as jam or pickles and meals. “Being the selected project to win the SVC is one of the most empowering, energizing, supporting and heart filling things that happened to The Freed Food Society, and of course, to myself,” said Pol Lapeira.

Pitches were judged on three criteria: (i) value proposition (is there a social and/or environmental problem and a clear solution identified?), (ii) business model, and (iii) wow factor.

The all-star panel of judges was comprised of: Joey Gibbons, Founder of Gibbons Life; Kirby Brown, General Manager of the Sea to Sky Gondola; and Danielle Kristmanson, Principal and Creative Director of Origin. The three judges were so inspired and impressed with all of the Social Venture ideas that they personally committed to jointly contributing $1000 to each of the other seven participants.

“It was a really inspiring evening, and a great way to be reminded of what that fresh kind of passion for an idea looks like,” said Danielle Kristmanson.

Social Venture Challenge Participants-smallThe SVC program supported eight social entrepreneurs in the Squamish-Lillooet / Sea to Sky region to develop new business initiatives that focus on delivering a social and/or environmental benefit. The SVC program provided the participants with workshops on developing their business model canvas, mentorship, and support to help grow new social ventures in the region.

“Our successful first Social Venture Challenge program proved that there is a lot of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit in the region, and that there are lots of viable ideas of how we can use business strategies to achieve environmental and social good,” said Cheeying Ho, the Centre’s Executive Director. “We look forward to next year’s applicants and ideas.”

Read more in the Pique Newsmagazine

The Social Venture Challenge is a new program of the Centre’s LEAN (Local Economy Action Network) initiative, which aims to create a stronger shared-value based local economy through collaboration and collective action. The Social Venture Challenge Pitch Event is generously supported by Squamish Savings, Gibbons LifeCommunity Futures Howe Sound and the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.

Squamish Savings

Gibbons Life

Community Futures of Howe Sound