The end of our first accelerator program marked an important milestone for CSED and Ottawa’s entire social enterprise sector. In this blog post, we explore the impact of the program while looking back on the wrap-up event that brought it to a close.
If you’ve read our earlier blog post about the launch of the CSED Accelerator, which we hope you have, you’ll know that since March 2017, CSED has been leading 10 local social enterprises through an accelerator program to bring their organizations to the next level of development. During this 6-module program, the participating social entrepreneurs came together to learn, share, and grow as a collective unit, covering topics like branding and the importance of measuring social impact. Thanks to our amazing presenters, mentors, and participants, along with the generous support of the OCE (Ontario Centres of Excellence), the accelerator was an enormous success whose impacts were made evident by the discussions that occurred at our wrap-up event.
To represent the culmination of the entire accelerator program, CSED hosted a “reverse purchasing panel” at the wrap-up event, where the participating social enterprises could get their foot in the door of social procurement in Ottawa. The panel consisted of 5 representatives from various organizations in Ottawa who either had the potential to include social enterprise in their supply chain or collaborate with them in some form or another. The accelerator presenters and mentors, as well as a number of other individuals embedded into Ottawa’s growing social enterprise sector, were also invited to join the discussion.
The Impact of the Accelerator
To start the morning and kick off the “reverse purchasing panel”, each of the social entrepreneurs who took part in the accelerator gave short presentations to the panel. One by one, the SE Changemakers briefly discussed their organization’s history, the impact that the accelerator had on them, and where their organization is headed in future.
Whether it was an increase in confidence or knowledge, access to new tools and resources, or simply feeling like they were no longer alone in the social enterprise sector, each cohort member seemed to have walked away from the accelerator program with a variety of positive outcomes, not only for themselves but for their organizations as a whole.
Once the presentations were complete, it was the panel’s turn to do the talking.
Starting with the representative from PSPC, the individuals representing FarmBoy, St. Paul’s University, the Champlain Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Network, and the ONFE School Breakfast Program all discussed the opportunities they saw for the social enterprises in the room to collaborate with their organizations.
Some of the panelists identified the potential for the social enterprises’ products to be sold in their organization’s retail locations, while others suggested a potential for partnerships to be formed. For one organization, there was even a discussion around hiring the graduates of a social enterprise’s employment training program in the future.
The “reverse purchasing panel” was extremely successful in creating a stepping stone for the social enterprises in the accelerator program to get involved in the operations of larger public and private organizations in Ottawa.
Ending the Accelerator, not the Cohort
Although the accelerator has come to an end, the relationships between cohort members remain strong, as does their desire to collaborate and grow together to increase the strength of the sector.
These social enterprises are just getting started, and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish in the years to come.
Try to keep up.
Need a more visual experience? Check out our facebook page to see some great photos from the modules and wrap-up event.
Want to know more about the Accelerator? Visit http://csedottawa.ca/se-accelerator/ for information about the participants, mentors, and speakers.