Jumpstart social enterprise with a Biblical mission
by Agnes Chung
You want to be a change-maker. To transform your innovative ideas into rewarding solutions, to advance social and sustainability impact – and make the world a better place to live. A growing cadre of BC companies is doing just that. BC is progressively gaining global recognition as a hub for social innovation and enterprise activity.
The social venture sector in BC has grown by 35% since 2010, with sector earnings exceeding $500M annually, according to a 2015 BC Social Venture Sector Labour Market Study. Social ventures in this context include non-profit, for-profit, cooperative, and Community Contribution Companies (C3).
Learning skills for social enterprise
While Vancouver may be the hotbed, look no further than Abbotsford as the catalyst to your future social enterprise venture with a biblical mission. Columbia Bible College (CBC) recently launched their new Diploma in Social Entrepreneurship. The college may be the first academic institution in Metro Vancouver to offer a full-diploma program in this field of study.
The two-year program which begins this fall, combines Christian faith foundation classes with a series of core business courses. The aim is to prepare students with the passion, entrepreneurial spirit, and marketplace skills to create a positive impact within society.
Courses include: Introduction to Business, Essentials of Marketing, Accounting, Peace & Justice Issues, Ethical Reasoning, and Non-Profit Organization Management.
The program was initiated out of an aspiration to see various aspects of the marketplace incorporated into students’ ministry vision, according to Doug Berg, PhD, Academic Dean of CBC.
“Columbia Bible College seeks to equip people for a life of discipleship ministry and leadership in service to the church and community. We seek to develop the whole person from a biblical and theological world view. Within that framework, we teach the business and the social entrepreneurship courses,” explains Berg. “What we like to do is to see business as mission, business as gospel impact – and social entrepreneurship as something that can serve mission and serve gospel. That integration is really the heart of Kurtis Kube’s vision for this program.” The program is unlike those offered by mainstream institutions.
In a recent press statement, the diploma program Creator and Director, Kurtis Kube said that foundational business concepts and skills are taught from a Christ-centered view, with a strong focus on financial stewardship, environmental stewardship, and social good. He added that students want to care for creation, support the poor, and make an impact in their communities. CBC seeks to equip the students to spread God’s love and the gospel in every sphere of life, including the marketplace.
A key program class is the Entrepreneurial Operations, where students acquire entrepreneurship skills by developing and pitching their business plan to a panel of real-world business owners. Each service practicum is customized to the student’s program of study. Business courses are transferable to the University of Fraser Valley.
“We are ready to innovate as God directs,” remarks Bryan Born, CBC’s President. “We want to equip students with what they need so that they fully live into the calling and vocations that God has placed on their lives.”
Vancity Credit Union: Free Support Services
The BC government is keen to develop the social venture sector, and declared the month of May as Social Enterprise Month since 2014. In fact, BC is the first Canadian province to introduce a new type of hybrid corporation – known as C3 – in July 2013. A hybrid corporation focuses on social impact, provides investment for lenders seeking social and financial value, and establishes social impact accountability through reporting requirements.
“Vancity has been supporting and developing social enterprise for well over two decades. We are one of the early investors in social enterprise,” says Sean Condon, Development Advisor, Social Enterprise, Vancity Community Foundation. “It’s still very much a growing industry, and is really developing into full-fledge businesses. BC is one of the leaders in Canada in terms of social enterprise development.”
Vancity Community Foundation offers free support to social enterprise ventures, which are charitable and non-profit organisations. Support includes assistance with planning phase development, market research, feasibility studies or accessing grants to help with capital purchases.
“We do have some criteria for supporting social enterprise; there are a couple of social and environmental goals that we require you to be aligned with, such as environmental, sustainability, financial inclusion and Indigenous issues,” explains Condon.
Application for assistance often starts with a conversation with any of their branches within the Vancity catchment area of the Lower Mainland, Abbotsford, Victoria and Alert Bay.