Social enterprises in Canada have an opportunity to be a pillar of rapidly growing startup communities. In March 2017, Purppl attended the Canadian Accelerator Summit in Vancouver; it attracted 56 accelerators from across Canada, the US, the UK, and India. Our purpose in attending this event was to learn alongside some of the top Canadian accelerators and bring those best practices back to social enterprise development. Purppl was the only accelerator in attendance who is squarely focused on social enterprise acceleration.
Chris Heivly keynoted the event in March. He’s an Entrepreneur in Residence with Techstars (one of the top accelerators in the world) and is leading their new communities initiative which focuses on mapping communities and enabling entrepreneurial leaders. He’s in the Okanagan Valley for 10 days, working with Accelerate Okanagan, to develop a community assessment and a 12 month implementation plan with entrepreneurs in the technology community. These foundational best practices for building startup communities can also work for social entrepreneurs (see: The Boulder Thesis for Social Entrepreneurs).
While startup communities grow around technology companies, an indicator of their health and vibrancy is the establishment and growth of other sectors. One example of this is the growth of food and food related products in Boulder. Here in British Columbia, the number of ventures with a social or environmental mission grew 35% from 2010 to 2015. There is a major opportunity for the social enterprise ecosystem to grow alongside technology ecosystem locally and globally.
Take a look at how Techstars is working with Accelerate Okanagan and why the Okanagan is one of five regions to participate in this global pilot project.