What excites Carla Leon, a key organizer of the Lion’s Den Social Innovation Challenge 2016 (SIC), are the connections between those who have a passion for social entrepreneurship.
For example, last year’s Calgary SIC, Project Stove pitched an idea to sell energy efficient stoves in Kenya. That same year, a 2nd place winner of the Winnipeg SIC pitched an idea for a prototype hand-washing unit to improve sanitation in Uganda. Because of the connection to the SIC, Carla was able to connect these two entrepreneurs with complimentary products for the African market.
Carla believes that “the value of these connections is exponential.”
The Lion’s Den Social Innovation Challenge is an annual event where entrepreneurs have 90 seconds to pitch their socially innovative idea to a Dragon’s Den style panel of judges. Winners of the event receive coaching, networking and funding support to bring their project alive. The first round of the SIC will take place on October 1st from 1:30 – 3 pm as part of The Soul of the Next Economy Forum, where “the non-profit sector, government, business, and educational institutions converge”.
In Calgary, the SIC is a joint collaboration between Ambrose University, United Church of Canada and Thrive Calgary. The United Church is hosting similar Social Innovation Challenges across Canada.
At its core, the Social Innovation Challenge is about building genuine relationships. The key is to be radically open and have an interest in exploring new ideas. By giving entrepreneurs the chance to network, the synergy can be immeasurable.
Having seen these connections in action, Carla is focussed on connecting the entrepreneurs to the social enterprise network. Contestants in this year’s top 10 will be matched with a mentor based on the gifts and skills that the mentors can offer.
The Social Innovation Challenge will also be offering a webinar series that will cover topics to help entrepreneurs start-up their projects.
For those who don’t know what social enterprise is, this event is a fun way to be exposed to creative projects that normally aren’t showcased. For those involved in social enterprise, the Social Innovation Challenge provides necessary resources to support individuals with their projects.
Ultimately, Carla sees a world where social enterprise projects are financially sustainable and bring joy and connection to the people they serve.
The Social Innovation Challenge is currently looking for innovative ideas. Deadline to register for the pitch is Wednesday, September 21. Who knows, your idea might change the world!