You’ve heard it before. It takes a village to raise a child. Or it takes a community to build a company. The same holds true about building a social enterprise. 

Six social enterprises presented at ChangeUP in Kamloops on October 2nd to a sold out crowd of 80 people. They shared their story, their business model, and their impact model. Each finished with asks, requests, and invitations to help them achieve their mission. 

The six are: Kamloops Music Collective, Kamloops Makerspace, The Big Edition, Farm Bound, Central Referral Solutions, and ASK Wellness

ChangeUP Presenters

This event was an invitation to the community to participate. The social enterprises shared open, welcome invitations knowing that a social entrepreneur can’t and won’t build in isolation. The very nature of the words social and entrepreneur indicate that it’s being built with and for others. You can view their invitations for support and participation here. 

Social entrepreneurship is growing globally and locally. Over one third of startups globally have social impact embedded into their core mission, not as an afterthought. While 80 people gathered to listen in Kamloops last week, we reflect on the months and years of support from many that continue to drive this movement.

Let’s look at some local organizations who contribute to this movement in Kamloops. 

Interior Savings and Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union are cooperative credit unions. They are one of the earliest versions of social enterprise that exist in Canada and have been powering other social enterprises with talent and capital from their inception.

The City of Kamloops
plays deliberate and diverse roles to support social enterprise development. In collaboration with Purppl, the City launched a social enterprise acceleration program in 2018 that provides long-term support for three local social enterprises. The City also hosts multiple social serving organizations in its buildings and on its properties. The City purchases from social enterprises and is a major cheerleader for the movement. 

Kamloops Innovation, or KIC, seeds the community with events, education, and training that support the innovation economy in Kamloops. This includes social entrepreneurship and social innovation. They understand that technology can be a tool to support social entrepreneurs who are working to solve complex social issues. This organization and its work is critical to nurturing the ecosystem. 

Urban Systems and Urban Matters are not your typical engineering and planning companies. They take on tough planning and facilitation roles around complex social issues like affordable housing, homelessness, and the opioid crisis. In the last year they’ve built PEOPLE, a service that creates employment opportunities for people with lived experience. They are one of the first regular buyers of The Big Edition. You only need to dig a little bit to understand Urban Systems and Urban Matters are all in on supporting social enterprise development all across Western Canada. 

McMillan Dubo is perhaps unexpected in a group like this. They are a small law firm who has expertise niche services like supporting credit unions and First Nations lending. What isn’t so niche is their commitment to community. They support developing women leaders through several different initiatives. At Purppl, about 75% of our social enterprise clients are women led. It’s an important place to engage allied community partners. 

S4ES is an even more unexpected in the community of participants who supports social enterprise development. Unexpected because of how quietly they support these priorities across Canada. S4ES is the Social Enterprise Ecosystem, a collaboration of aligned organizations. They focus on skills training, investment readiness, expanding social procurement opportunities, social enterprise storytelling, and building support networks – many of the elements of a supportive ecosystem. 

These are only a few of the people and organizations involved. 

It takes many small hands to build a community that supports social enterprise development. This is a movement that welcomes participation. Some inch into the movement as a small business seeking to deepen their impact commitments. Others inch into the movement as a non-profit seeking more sustainable revenue. Others play support or ally roles. 

If you are willing, you are welcome in the movement. 

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