The Change Maker of the Month series in our newsletter aims to highlight the impressive and creative work that individuals are doing the social impact space. To learn more about social impact initiatives at EPICentre and how you can get involved, please visit: www.epicentreuwindsor.ca/libro-epic-social-impact-initiative
How did you get into the social entrepreneurship space and why?
I think it is important to acknowledge and appreciate that I am part of a larger movement towards sustainable capitalism. I believe we should be changing the way we think about money as a society. Money is a means to the end of a sustainable, happy, healthy community. And many people feel the same way.
I have committed myself to empowering and supporting organizations & individuals who create positive change through sustainable practices. That purpose crosses industries, legal structures and borders. Since graduating I have worked with startups, growing organizations and students in Uganda, Bolivia and Canada to grow their impact.
Finding my purpose has been a process, with many ups, downs and U-Turns; with I’m sure many more to go! But basically it comes down to what I love and how it can help the community. I’m good at business. I grew up around entrepreneurship, I always enjoyed marketing, financials, strategic planning. Frankly, it’s what I enjoy spending my time on. But I have also always held the belief that we should spend our time giving back to the community. So when I heard about the term “social enterprise” in 3rd year of university it was an “aha” moment for me. Since then I’ve slowly been shown a whole world of social enterprise, affordable housing, sustainable living, social finance, etc. that gets more exciting by the minute!
Social enterprise is my combination of doing what I love while giving back to the world. If everyone could find that balance, I believe we would be in a good place.
Briefly describe what you do.
Three years out of school, my purpose has led me to my current role as the Social Enterprise Coach at Pillar Nonprofit Network/VERGE Capital, supporting non-profit & for-profit organizations building positive community impact through business. I am privileged to spend all day, every day, thinking “how can I support social enterprise in my community” with amazing results. I have worked with over 50 social entrepreneurs across industries and impact areas. I coach organizations 1-1 and facilitate group workshops; all to support change that can scale.
On a personal level I also travel frequently, and enjoy working internationally. My intention is to grow my network of amazing social innovators all around the world and continue to pursue opportunities that build the social enterprise movement around the world. Where that will lead me? I don’t know, but I’m excited to find out!
What advice do you have for individuals who want to go into social entrepreneurship but don’t know where to start?
Know the values your hold, who you want in your circle of influence, the skills you want to learn; and then be open about asking for it. Full or expensive conferences can make space for a young someone with initiative to ask, experienced people will meet to have coffee with you. Put yourself out there, values first, and you will attract opportunities & people to your network.
Be open to saying YES! Take the opportunities now to learn, reach out to folks, and attend conferences and forums. I took off for a whole year after graduating to work in Bolivia, why? Because it was a unique opportunity that aligned with my values. So I said yes, and it was incredible!
But also don’t be afraid to say no. Once you start this process of reaching out and looking for opportunities, you will quickly find yourself overwhelmed with all the options. Networking events, workshops, volunteer positions; how do you fit it all in? The answer is, you can’t and you shouldn’t. Pick 3-5 core areas you want to learn about and focus your time there; be okay with saying no to something that could be a great opportunity, to seek out the RIGHT opportunity.
Do you have any suggested books, podcasts, or articles people can refer to so they can learn more about social innovation?
Essentialism – not a social innovation book, but a great book on choosing opportunities & learning to say no.
The Impact Investor – awesome book on social finance.
Online (sign up for newsletters too)
Stanford Social Innovation Review – great online journal with trending topics
Mars Discovery District – has lots of great articles & white papers on social enterprise
Learn some of the familiar faces in Canadian social enterprise, such as the federal steering committee members.
Transforming Capitalism Lab – a new project out of Stanford that is connecting social innovators around the world 1/month to discuss topics around capitalism, innovation & sustainability (check to see if you have a local group, or join a forum group online)
To get in touch with Julie, reach out to her on LinkedIn. Also check out sesw.ca to hear more about social innovation initiatives in Southwestern Ontario.
See previous Change Makers here:
Pillar Nonprofit Network is the centre of excellence in Southwestern Ontario for social enterprise and social innovation. We support more than 610 nonprofits, social enterprises and social innovators by sharing resources, exchanging knowledge and creating meaningful connections across the three pillars of nonprofit, business and government. Pillar’s newsletters are packed with resources, funding opportunities, sector updates and inspirational content. Sign up now to stay connected.