Putting Social Enterprise in the Limelight

As social enterprises differ from other businesses it’s only fitting that they be recognized with their own event. However, social enterprises are still businesses, so it’s also fitting that said event includes a Dragon Den-inspired format.


Many different definitions and terms have been used to describe social enterprises but for the purposes of Social Enterprise Catalyst (seCatalyst) — the April 2 event at the Belfry Theatre, to showcase Vancouver Island’s social enterprises — the characteristics that distinguish a social enterprise are that “the principal goal of the organization is to address a cultural, social and/or environmental need” and that “the organization serves the common good through its products and services or through offering employment to people who face barriers to mainstream employment.” In addition, the common good is its primary purpose, “literally ‘baked into’ the organization’s DNA,” and surpluses and profits are principally reinvested for its social, cultural and/or environmental mandate.

During seCaltalyst, three finalists chosen from the over 20 social enterprises who applied, will pitch an ‘ask’ for technical assistance and financial investment in a Dragon’s Den-style format. The judges — Tamara Vrooman, CEO of Vancity Credit Union, Adrian Legin, CEO of Coastal Community Credit Union, and Mackenzie Kyle, Regional Manager from MNP Consulting — will deliberate, provide feedback and allocate prizes which include resources, memberships and $25,000 in funding.

Guests will also have the opportunity to meet and hear from Joel Soloman, President of Renewal Partners and Chairman of Renewal Funds, as well as Paul Lacerte. Soloman is a founding member of Social Venture Network (SVN), Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), the Tides Canada Foundation, and is board chair of Hollyhock. Lacerte is the Executive Director for the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, a member of the Board of Directors for the Vancouver Foundation and serves as a Lead Aboriginal representative on key Provincial initiatives including the Government Non-Profit Initiative (GNPI). He currently sits as one of the Canadian representatives at the United Nations Permanent Forum for Indigenous Peoples in New York.

To further celebrate Vancouver Island’s growing social enterprise economy, all of the social enterprises who applied to present at seCatalyst will be invited to showcase their businesses to attendees and a graphic facilitator will assist in mapping the social enterprise eco-system in the region and Island.