Shawn Smith, Beedie School, 778.782.9262,
Derek Moscato, Beedie School, 778.782.5038,
Chantelle Buffie, 604.763.7211,
Sonam Swarup, 604.809.5477,
Lorraine Wilson, 778.837.0394,

Students at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University can further their social venture ideas with the launch of the new Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator (SEA) program, starting this semester at the SFU Surrey campus.

The program provides students with the resources to generate feasible business models, meet with clients to discuss project details, and gain an understanding of social impact. Students enter as individuals or teams, or join a team in the class.

With $10,000 in support from Vancity, the initiative will help entrepreneurially-minded students move their concepts towards reality and develop projects that will help address tomorrow’s social, environmental, and economic challenges.

“The Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator acts as a bridge between the classroom and the real world; it’s for students who want to know what it takes to build and launch ventures that balance social impact and financial viability,” says Shawn Smith, a Beedie School lecturer in innovation and entrepreneurship, and SEA program leader.

“Students are way ahead on this, questioning traditional business models, and demanding opportunities to learn about how their emerging knowledge and skills can be used to tackle real social problems.”

“SEA is a valuable initiative,” says Andy Broderick, vice president of community investment with Vancity. “Vancity invests in social enterprise and social venture because it supports our vision of redefining wealth, blending financial, social and environmental returns for our members and their communities.

“Supporting students who have an appetite for turning social ideas into social enterprises is in line with how we are trying to use credit to accelerate community impact.”

The program underscores the Beedie School’s commitment to community engagement, and student projects within the program reflect that philosophy.

As an example, undergraduate students Chantelle Buffie and Sonam Swarup will further develop Fusion Kitchen, a project that employs recent immigrant women with culinary skills to teach affordable, authentic, hands-on cooking classes.

The women will utilize the knowledge to build social networks and job skills, providing income and offering a “real” experience for those interested in learning to cook authentic cultural cuisine.

Students Adam Wizinsky, Alee Furman and Alexis Dalzell will use the SEA to take their project, Green Dirt, to the next level.

Green Dirt provides a restaurant composting service that turns organic waste into rich fertilizer for local farms and gardens. It does this for a fee comparable to, or cheaper than regular disposal, thereby reducing garbage flow or recycling into the local ecosystem.

Each team also has a mentor and exposure to experts, investors and entrepreneurs who will provide feedback and guidance.

The program, open to all SFU students with an interest in social ventures, will offer potential summer internship opportunities for students to gain further experience.


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