This Year’s Social Enterprise Dragons Biggest Yet

This Year’s Social Enterprise Dragons Biggest Yet

Corporate partners want to give back to their community, says ENP program co-ordinator

When Vancity Community Foundation and JDQ Systems founded an event to support social entrepreneurs four years ago they named it “When the Dragon’s Away,” to imagine what would happen if dragons, venture capitalists, left for-profit business and entered the realm of social enterprise.

Now renamed Social Enterprise Dragons, the event is meeting its goal of attracting private sector interest with this year’s event receiving sponsorship from KPMG and TELUS, among others.

“It’s growing not only in the social enterprise community but in the general business community as a whole, which is ultimately one of the goals,” says Jon Morris, JDQ Systems president.
“It’s been sold out for three years in a row and we’ve expanded our size every year and this year is going to be our biggest yet.”

Social Enterprise Dragons is an entertaining and informative evening that celebrates the role of social enterprise in communities. Three social enterprise finalists will make their "pitches" to the Social Enterprise Dragons, who allocate financial and consulting prizes ranging from a $10,000 grant from TELUS to $10,000 in-kind consulting from the American Society of Quality.

“There is a lot up for grabs. It’s definitely intended that there will be more than just three groups receiving the awards,” says Enterprising Non-Profits (ENP) program co-ordinator Kim Buksa. ENP, which supports social enterprise in British Columbia, is now host of the event.

Kim describes the awards, which are mostly in-kind consulting, as a way for ENP’s partners to give back. She says most of the organizations donating their time or financial resources are heavily involved in community and non-profits, and the event is an opportunity to contribute their skills in a unique way.

“It’s exciting to be able to bring the for-profit corporate to the small medium businesses that happen to be social enterprises,” she says.
Michael McCarthy, TELUS vice-president of small and medium business in B.C., is one of the judges and says he’s looking forward to what can come from a supportive event like Social Enterprise Dragons.

“It’s a bit different than a traditional Dragons' Den, we won’t be looking to say who is the final winner, every single one there is a winner. They are so passionate and so focused and so committed to their community but at the same time they’re also incredibly intelligent, thoughtful and vibrant business people,” he says. 
“I’m really looking forward to that great energy that those two cross sections provide, and I’m looking forward to a lot of fun.”

Michael, who has a background in sales, marketing and technology, adds there’s one other compelling reason he wanted to be part of the event.

“How often do you get someone else to call you a dragon? So that’s going to be exciting for me.”

This year’s Social Enterprise finalists are the Vancouver Native Housing Society presenting its social enterprise the Urban Aboriginal Fair Trade Gallery, Eastside Movement for Business and Economic Renewal Society (EMBERS) presenting its Staffing Solutions venture, and the Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society discussing its Natural Resource Studies program.

Keynote presenters are City of Vancouver councillor and acting mayor Andrea Reimer and Social Enterprise Alliance president and CEO Kevin Lynch.

To learn more about the March. 8 event, click here.
Prior to Social Enterprise Dragons, ENP is hosting a Day of Learning for social enterprise. To learn more about the event, click here.
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Writer Bio

Camille Jensen's picture
Camille Jensen

Camille Jensen is an employee share ownership consultant with ESOP Builders, Canada’s largest provider of employee share ownership plans (ESOPs) for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Prior to joining ESOP Builders, Camille was a generative journalist and team member at Axiom News. She credits her time at Axiom as fundamental to her understanding that business is one of the best opportunities to make a difference in the world.

Camille is a B.C. Partner for Social Impact and volunteer with Okanagan Changemakers.

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