Five business ventures driven by the desire to create positive social and environmental impact are being welcomed into a one-year accelerator program at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.
The Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub, run by the Sauder School of Business Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investing, will provide each enterprise with expert coaching, mentorship, a dynamic communal workspace and paid student interns.
One venture, led by a team of engineers from UBC, is making surgeries in conflict zones and under resourced areas around the globe cheaper and more efficient with a sterilized drill cover that transforms ordinary hardware into operating tools. Another is keeping coffee growers in Guatemala employed year-round by building up a market for coffee-leaf tea. All five ventures have created innovative ways to combine their passions for doing good with smart business sense.
“Social ventures are thriving in Vancouver’s dynamic entrepreneurial community and there’s a growing recognition of the power of business to do good in the world,” says Sauder Associate Professor James Tansey, Executive Director of the Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investing. “This year’s ventures have the potential to solve some very important social and environmental challenges. We’re excited to help them accelerate to their next stage of growth and continue our work establishing Vancouver as a global hub of social innovation.”
This is the third cohort of social ventures to enter the Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub, which is funded by a $1-million contribution from leading B.C. credit union Coast Capital Savings.
“Coast Capital Savings is committed to innovation, entrepreneurship, and building a richer future for youth in our communities,” says Don Coulter, President and CEO, Coast Capital Savings. “Sauder’s Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub aligns perfectly with all of these commitments which make it a natural and exciting partnership. We look forward to watching another cohort of ventures learn, grow and succeed during their time at the Hub.”
The 2015 ventures include:
Arbutus Medical, a team of biomedical engineers from UBC, have designed a medical grade fabric cover that fits over a regular hardware store drill. It keeps drills sterilized at a fraction of the price of orthopedic drills that can be cost-prohibitive in the developing world. Arbutus Medical is bringing their drill covers to hospitals around the globe, including conflict zones, such as Syria, and disaster-struck areas, including the Philippines and Haiti.
Wize Monkey produces and sells tea made from coffee leaves, helping growers in developing regions earn money year-round, rather than just the traditional three-month harvest season for coffee beans. The venture is committed to making the coffee industry more sustainable by turning seasonal jobs into permanent ones.
Brands for the Heart is a do-it-yourself branding agency for social entrepreneurs, helping startups on a budget develop a clear idea of their brand and matching them with designers who can turn their idea into an impactful identity.
BioClens Environmental provides sustainable bin cleaning and food waste solutions for Vancouver’s 2015 food waste ban. The primary service is mobile onsite cleaning of commercial totes, residential green bins and more. A water recycling system, and biodegradable, probiotic products responsibly eliminate odors, mold and vermin-attracting mess. They also sell the Greenlid, a countertop compostable compost bin available for schools, offices, and multi-unit residential buildings.
Time Auction motivates people to volunteer with the promise of meeting inspiring leaders in return. Participants log their volunteer hours for causes they want to support. The more hours they put in, the more value they have to bid on rewards such as watching a Canucks game with its COO, meeting a co-founder of Tim Hortons or cooking a meal with a celebrity chef.
The Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub’s ventures are selected through a competitive process assessing their business model viability and scalability, financial sustainability as well as their potential to have a positive social impact. Through the program they attend intensive workshops on topics ranging from strategic growth, to marketing and branding, to culture and talent management. The entrepreneurs are coached in how to approach investors, prepare a proposal for private funding and close the deal.
Social ventures are the fastest growing part of the non-profit sector in North America. The most recent survey in B.C. reported that social ventures provided paid employment for over 2,600 people in 2011. The survey also reported annual revenues of $60 million and services to 695,000 British Columbians.
Sauder School of Business Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investment
The Centre is focused on leveraging business tools to advance social and environmental change, through research, incubation, and application. The Centre’s goal is to build intellectual and human capacity by linking knowledge with action to further the field of sustainability and social innovation.
Coast Capital Savings
Coast Capital Savings is Canada’s second largest credit union, owned by its 512,000 members. It has 50 branches in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island regions of British Columbia and has exciting plans to grow. Product innovations include Canada’s first free chequing account from a full-service financial institution. Coast Capital offers one of Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures™ and was named one of 2014’s BC Top Employers. It is a member of Canada’s Best Managed Companies Platinum Club and an Imagine Canada Caring Company.