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Are you dedicated to building a vibrant socent community in Niagara? You’re already one of us!

Meet our committee members:

Social Enterprise Niagara - Planning Committee Meeting 1
tom jakop - Social Enterprise Niagara

Tom Jakop

Current Position(s):

Communications Coordinator
The Canadian Community Economic Development Network

Email: tomjakop at gmail.com

Linkedin Profile

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1) I began my social enterprise journey back in 2011 when I had my coop during my College summer break at Niagara Sustainability Initiative where I was their Events and Marketing Coordinator. I really enjoyed the working culture of the sector and saw the future opportunities within it. Currently, I am the Communications Coordinator at The Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet) in Toronto. While at CCEDNet I have been helping Social Enterprise Ontario with their website, social media and Steering Committee meetings, and helped Social Enterprise Toronto with their 2016 Conference. Social Enterprise is important to me because it offers a model that is unique to every organization, is locally minded and offers a better business planning structure for a more sustainable future.

2) I was surprised by the number of great initiatives happening in Niagara this past year, a social enterprise forum, followed up with the monthly meetups at Mahtay, as well as an attracting and retaining youth under 40 strategy by the region. Before I had left for Toronto, I did not know about a sprawling freelancing hub that is Cowork Niagara. The launch of Southridge Jam last year was also a welcomed sign of things to come in Niagara.

3) If you are looking to get a sense of the social entrepreneurial system in Canada, create a copy account of CCEDNet’s twitter on who we follow and you will see all the great things happening – just browse through that for a month, read a few articles a day and it’ll open your mind to what’s really possible and how we can try and replicate something here in Niagara. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, there are so many great organizations already out there, and many willing to give you some of their own time to tell you about their stories to help you start the journey of your own story. I encourage you to take a look at our Resource page as it has resources that has helped me and resources I have found in my 2 years at CCEDNet. Look into social intrapreneurship. Come out to #SENiagara meetup at Mahtay, and let’s try to build a better Niagara, together.

allison-smith - Social Enterprise Niagara

Allison Smith

Current Position(s):

Content Developer
ae smith writing

Email: allisonelisesmith at gmail.com

Linkedin Profile

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Coming Soon…

Vanessa Fayole - Social Enterprise Niagara

Vanessa Fayole

Current Position(s):

Workshop Facilitator, Public Speaker, & Blogger
Social impact education

Email: vanessa.faloye at gmail.com

Linkedin Profile

Twitter @vanessafaloye

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1. Having recently moved from Western Europe where I was very deeply involved in social enterprise, the first thing I did was look for a similarly mission-driven network here in St. Catharines, Niagara. I would probably describe myself as a social entrepreneur on a good day which thankfully seems to be more often these days. I really believe in social enterprise because it is the only viable future I see in the struggle between rich and poor, and the powerful and the powerless.To be honest, social enterprise should have happened a long time ago since businesses should intrinsically exist to empower our local and global community.
2. It has been wonderfully insightful to get involved with the social enterprise movement here in Niagara which is gaining momentum. I think the most interesting thing I have learned is the more nuanced analysis of what ‘social enterprise’ is and can be. In the UK, where I am from, this definition has become saturated to the point that it is somewhat diluted. It has been a great reminder of the real competitive potential that social enterprise holds as a field of innovation rippling throughout the world.
3. I believe people should care about social enterprise because it offers an alternative. It is an alternative to the underwhelming nature of our status-quo that serves so few and oppresses so many. As intelligent beings, we need to demand more and do better. You can be fulfilled by your job; you can make money; and you can leave behind a legacy.
To get involved with social enterprise, my advice would be to consult as many experienced entrepreneurs as you can and absorb what they tell you; pick your battle passionately; and just start somewhere. Even if all else fails, you would have learnt so much and you would have actually done something which is more than most.
Paul Connor - Social Enterprise Niagara

Paul Connor

Current Position:

Economic Researcher
Helping non profits with their business models & business outreach & economic research

Email: paulconnor.ca at gmail.com

Linkedin Profile

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1. I got involved in Niagara’s social enterprise community as a result of a career history of supporting entrepreneurship in the financial sector, combined with a prior role in Niagara’s economic development. My present role is as an interested citizen only, as for the time being I am taking no official function anywhere. Social enterprise is important to me because it promises a future where all the costs of any organized endeavour are fully measured and dealt with in a timely and responsible manner, rather than transferred to the future or to the community.
2.  The most surprising thing I have learnt about Niagara so far, in the context of social enterprise, is how interested even the larger organizations and the key convenors of the region are in social enterprise.  I don’t think this is just about a handful of activists any more.
3.  People should care and get involved in Niagara’s social entrepreneurship because then they will be taking direct action against all the uncertainty and danger we currently face.  I for one sleep better knowing I have done at least one thing a day about it.  This is no longer a time for muddling along and hoping for the best, and that is because we failed for too long to count the complete social, health and environmental costs of many things we collectively do (both publicly and privately). However, if we collaborate in this endeavour, we will derive much greater strength and knowledge than by acting alone-or not at all. So far as I am concerned, anyone actively seeking new ways to create value for others, ways which help them avoid debts to the community or the future, is a part of this movement.
Cathy Berkhout-Bosse - Social Enterprise Niagara

Cathy Berkhout-Bosse

Current Position(s):

Real Estate Broker
REMAX
Community Manager
myNiagaraOnline
Communications Strategist
Tiger Eye Solutions

Email: info at myniagaraonline.com

Linkedin Profile

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1. My involvement in social enterprise has evolved from my experience as a Realtor/Small Business entrepreneur in Niagara and a Shop Local advocate. As citizens of Niagara each one of us has a role to play in the building of more creative and sustainable solutions to our Region’s social, environmental and economic development challenges. In 2009, I co-founded a social enterprise – myPelham.com – that we are expanding to become myNiagara Online – a regional platform for sharing and promoting community-sourced content.

2. Quite frankly I am amazed that there is not a commonly accepted definition of “Social Enterprise’. While I appreciate this is not just a Niagara phenomena – it would certainly be helpful to have a hybrid corporate structure formalized in Ontario to facilitate the development of alternative social-purpose entities. As a society we embrace enterprising Non-Profits that create businesses to help fund their operations and we applaud For-Profit businesses that exhibit good corporate social responsibility – but a For-Profit social-purpose business – now that’s always the elephant in the room!

 3. I believe that entrepreneurial, community-based approaches are ultimately more sustainable than those that rely on the changing whims of government funding priorities. Impact investing is a growing trend globally – rapidly replacing outdated models of charitable giving. More and more businesses are engraining social impact into their operating missions and defining success by more than just the financial return on their investment. By nurturing and growing the social entrepreneurial movement in Niagara we are strengthening the foundation for positive social and economic change in our community.

Dawit Eshetu - Social Enterprise Niagara

Dawit Eshetu

Current Position(s):

Professor
Niagara College

Email: deshetu at niagaracollege.ca

Linkedin Profile

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1. I am an educator of economic development and international business. I have special interest in social entrepreneurship because I am convinced that the growing societal and economic problems can only be tackled by adapting innovative and unconventional approaches.

2. I learned over the past years that Niagara like many other small communities faces lots of challenges. But, I have also observed that Niagara’s potentials are great in many areas. I am especially optimistic about the interest of many young people taking up on social and environmental challenges. Niagara has to continue to coordinate its resources including its social capital optimally to support such initiatives.

3. The first step I recommend to people is to get excited about social entrepreneurship. The best way to do it to talk to existing social entrepreneurs in the region. These individuals are doing remarkable things using minimal resources, but maximum effort and commitment.

Social Enterprise Niagara Conceptualizers

jennifer-sinclair - Social Enterprise Niagara

Jennifer Sinclair

Current Position(s):

Philanthropy Manager
Bethlehem Housing and Support Services

Managing Partner
J Sinclair & Associates

Email: createwithjenn at gmail.com 

Linkedin Profile

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Coming Soon…

jeffrey-sinclair - Social Enterprise Niagara

Jeffrey Sinclair

Current Position(s):

‎Homelessness Action Plan Advisor
Niagara Region

Managing Partner
J Sinclair & Associates

Email: jeffreypaulsinclair at gmail.com

Linkedin Profile

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1. During my work in 2010 at the Ntinga OR Tambo development agency in South Africa I was inspired by the many business and social innovations, including co-operatives, that were being used to address persistent community challenges there. Since then I’ve worked to inspire local innovation through my work with government, non-profits, small businesses and students. Social enterprise is important to me because it can integrate the unique strengths of both non-profits and businesses to make our community better in away that is financially sustainable.

2. I’ve heard from several business leaders in Niagara that they fear that the label of Social Enterprise would undermine their image as a “real business” while many non-profits and charities express a fear of what it could mean for them to be seen to be earning healthy revenues. Despite this, Niagara does have exemplary social enterprises, including Trivium Industries, Cowork Niagara, Niagara Sustainability Initiative (NSI), and the Grimsby Benevolent Fund, to name just a few.

3. I believe that social entrepreneurial activity will continue to increase in importance globally and locally, so it just makes sense to me to support local Niagara capacity in this area, and share about local successes.  I think the best place for someone to start is to find a community where you can access a variety of knowledge and experience from both the private and non-profit sectors, and where you will feel supported as you cut your teeth as a social entrepreneur. ​

trevor-twining - Social Enterprise Niagara

Trevor Twining

Current Position:

Cowork Niagara
President

Founder & Executive Director/Producer
Niagara Podcasters Network

Freelance Web Developer

Email: trevortwining at gmail.com

Linkedin Profile

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Coming Soon…

gillian-kemp - Social Enterprise Niagara

Gillian Kemp

Current Position:

Executive Director
Niagara Furniture Bank

Email: ed at niagarafurniturebank.com

Linkedin Profile

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Coming Soon…

rachel-crane - Social Enterprise Niagara

Rachel Crane

Current Position:

Project Manager, ncTakeOff
Niagara College

Email: rcrane at niagaracollege.ca

Linkedin Profile

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Rachel Crane works at Niagara College, managing its entrepreneurship hub, ncTakeOff, and teaching entrepreneurship. Having a passion for all kinds of entrepreneurial applications, she tries to weave social enterpreneurship and intrapreneurship into all projects she gets involved with. As a dedicated volunteer, Rachel is a Board member for Turn Around Projects of the Arts and works to engage Niagara’s emerging generation (those under the age of 40) in making our community better in her role as Chair of NEXTNiagara. In 2014, she was recognized with a Top Forty Under 40 Business Achievement Award.

When not working away, Rachel can be found chipping away at her Master of Arts in Leadership degree or on a hike with her husband and adopted dog from Greece, Paul.