On Saturday, January 30, the Niagara Social Enterprise Forum brought together current and aspiring social entrepreneurs, and the organizations which support them, who learned about social entrepreneurship and resources to support the successful development of social ventures, and were inspired to take action.
Over 140 individuals registered for the Niagara Social Enterprise Forum, including students from Niagara College, Brock University, and DSBN Academy, and a variety of non-‐profit, for-‐ profit, government, and community leaders. Keynote speaker, Sean Campbell, Director of Scaled Purpose, will provide context for social entrepreneurship. The facilitator, Angela Carter, will engage participants in the co-‐creation of a learning experience that will cultivate a social entrepreneurial ecosystem in Niagara.
The Niagara Community Foundation and Niagara Prosperity Initiative, funded by the Niagara Region, have provided leadership and coordination support to convene the Forum. “The Niagara Community Foundation believes in the power of individuals and organizations working together to effect positive change in our communities. We encourage projects that promote self-‐sufficiency and long-‐term sustainability”, said Liz Palmieri, Executive Director, Niagara Community Foundation. “We recognize that innovation, creativity and entrepreneurialism are key contributors to success.”
The Niagara Social Enterprise Forum marked the beginning of Social Start-ups 2016 which will include a series of learning opportunities and events sprinkled throughout the year. The vision for Social Start-‐Ups 2016 is to to build a social entrepreneurial ecosystem in Niagara that will stimulate economic development and positive social/environmental impact.
“The Niagara Region looks at the growing “sharing economy” as a great opportunity for growth, attracting talent and economic prosperity. Social enterprises support not only innovation and entrepreneurship, but also combine business with the need to contribute to the overall good of the community”, said Regional Chair, Alan Caslin. “We were thrilled to participate in and sponsor the first, of what we hope to be recurring, Social Enterprise Forums for Niagara.”
A variety of community partners have come together to provide financial, promotional, and organization support for this initiative. These partners include: Niagara College Canada, Enactus Niagara College, Ontario Centres of Excellence, Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs, Brock University BioLinc, Niagara Youth Entrepreneurship Network, Niagara Region,
Niagara Prosperity Initiative, Niagara Community Foundation, Cowork Niagara, Chimpanzee, St. Catharines Enterprise Centre, Niagara Falls Small Business Enterprise Centre, Leadership Niagara, United Way of St. Catharines & District, Business Education Council of Niagara, Niagara Workforce Planning Board, and the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce.
The Niagara Social Enterprise Forum was funded in part by the Unleash Your Inner Entrepreneur program, a grant supported by RBC Foundation, Futurpreneur Canada, the Foundation for an Entrepreneurial Canada, and secured through EnactusNC and ncTakeOff*. “It is no surprise that students have embraced the opportunity to get involved, early on, in Niagara’s conversation about social enterprise,” said Rachel Crane, manager of
ncTakeOff*, Niagara College’s On-‐Campus Entrepreneurship Activities project. “Entrepreneurial thinking and social consciousness are some of the virtues that Niagara College embeds into its programs. And, as a result, a growing number of student startups that ncTakeOff* supports are building upon social entrepreneurship strategies.”