Social ventures from Beedie win kudos, investment from top entrepreneurs

Nov 24, 2011

Five projects by SFU students—all social ventures aimed at creating positive change—were chosen from 10 finalists to win Ashoka Canada’s Be a Changemaker Challenge on November 23. The event was sponsored by the CMA Centre for Strategic Change and Performance Measurement.

The contestants were eligible for up to $1,000 each in seed funding to launch their social ventures, in addition to incubation support through Ashoka Canada and Ashoka’s Youth Venture. Most of the entrants were from SFU Beedie School of Business lecturer Shawn Smith’s BUS 492 class in social entrepreneurship and innovation, which teaches the fundamentals of creating socially impactful ventures while coaching students through the process. “More than just community engagement I think it is entirely critical to instill a sense of responsibility, and possibility, in our emerging leaders,” says Smith.

SFU Beedie School of Business winning projects:

• Fusion Kitchen, developed this fall by Sonam Swarup and Chantelle Buffie, employs recent immigrant women with culinary skills to teach affordable, authentic, hands-on cooking classes, which builds social networks and job skills, provides income and offers a “real” experience for those interested
in learning to cook authentic cultural cuisine.

• Green Dirt, developed this fall by Adam Wizinsky, Alee Furman, and Alexis Dalzell provides a restaurant composting service that turns organic waste into rich fertilizer for local farms and gardens, for a fee comparable to or cheaper than regular disposal, reducing garbage flow by recycling into the local

• Aspire, in development since January by Robbie Hsieh and Alice Chen, aims to provide employment opportunities in the software testing industry for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by leveraging characteristics of the disorder for a competitive advantage.

• Healthy Homes, developed by Kelvin Kwok, Money Gill, and Samantha Paulson, seeks to provide a once stop clearing house of information for families dealing with loved ones that require palliative care, and services to assist families in caring for their dying loved ones in a caring home environment.

Beedie students and alumni from the ‘Abee Project’ (Jessica Kwee, Qudsia Ahmed, and Jasmin Bhandal), ‘Home Daycare’ (Rolando Fuentes Ruiz, Stanley Lai, and Dickson Wong), and ‘Home for the Heart’ (Jessica Fan, Peter Gao, Kenneth Lau and Tracy Wei) also qualified as finalists and delivered excellent presentations, though weren’t selected for grants at this time.

Smith’s students are encouraged to design a sustainable project at the start of class. Six are currently underway while three from the spring class continue.

Ashoka Canada, in partnership with SFU and UBC, found the top student changemakers at the November event. The two schools co-launched the Be A Changemaker Challenge, powered by Starbucks, to find the best student-led social initiatives coming out of Vancouver. The components of the Challenge are a bootcamp, which took place at SFU on Oct. 1st and the venture pitch selection panel.

The Be a Changemaker Challenge Selection Panel brought together six business and social entrepreneurs to select the winners. Panelists included: James Tansey (ISIS, UBC), Tom Lawrence (Beedie School of Business, SFU), John Nicola (Nicola Wealth Management & Ashoka Support Network Member), Shannon Vanderwoerd (Starbucks Canada), Elisha Muskat (Ashoka Canada) and Ashoka Fellow John Richardson (Party X, Pivot Legal Society).

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