Social entrepreneurs can run a fine line between non- and for-profit organizations. But regardless of their structure, their purpose is clear: to drive change and deliver benefits to society through innovations that are self-sustaining and create long-term value.
“Case in point, our 2017 EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year winner, Murad Al-Katib of Saskatchewan-based AGT Food and Ingredients Inc., has purpose at the heart of his business,” says Tellier. “By continuously working to bring food to the most vulnerable, he stood out to our World Entrepreneur Of The Year judges, bringing the World title to Canada.”
This year’s special citation winners dared to dream big and drive change, too. Lucky Iron Fish provides a health product to substantially reduce instances of iron deficiency, which affects nearly two billion people worldwide. And Lunapads delivers products and mentoring to help women and girls develop more positive and informed experiences of their menstrual cycles.
But does it pay to dare? Just ask our winners.
Gavin Armstrong, Lucky Iron Fish, Guelph
Deciding to tackle the massive and complex global issue of iron deficiency comes with many risks. The biggest of which, was building our business model around assumptions about cultural differences. We quickly learned that building trust among our communities is key, and we chose to overhaul our original sales strategy to partner with aid organizations in Cambodia. Partnering with organizations that have already established trust allowed us to go from selling one fish a month to more than 100,000 worldwide, to date.
Madeleine Shaw and Suzanne Siemens, Lunapads, Vancouver
Investing in our social impact projects – that support the menstrual health of girls and women in the Global South – is a commitment that takes resources away from the core business. Although a challenge, our values-based approach has proved central to the overall culture and profitability of our company. It has translated into success in several ways: it differentiates us from our competitors, fosters customer loyalty, and generates positive media exposure and business accolades. Most importantly, our programs and partnerships have provided supplies to over one million users in the Global South.
Taking risks can pay off for both organizations and society, and help build a better working world. Here’s what that means for these organizations:
“A better working world is when businesses embrace principles of social, environmental and economic justice,” Shaw and Siemens agree. “We imagine a world that is more flexible, inclusive and places a higher priority on global social values. In practice, this means ensuring our products, marketing and operating practices reflect these values.”
“I believe that social enterprises are not a fad or trend, they are the future of business,” says Armstrong. “We need to move past the traditional model where corporate social responsibility is just one aspect of a company, and focus on embedding social impact throughout the entire business model.”
Special Citation winners will be honoured at the following regional EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards galas:
Madeleine and Suzanne will be honoured at the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Pacific gala in Vancouver on 29 September 2017.
Gavin will be honoured at the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Ontario gala in Toronto on 24 October 2017.
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About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year®
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs. The program makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global awards program of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 145 cities in more than 60 countries. ey.com/eoy
The 2017 social entrepreneurship independent judging panel consists of Marina Glogovac, CEO, CanadaHelps and 2016 EOY Ontario Special Citation Recipient, Social Entrepreneur; Robyn Henderson, Founder and CEO, The Uncomplicated Family and 2016 EOY Prairies Special Citation Recipient; Greg Overholt, Founder, Students Offering Support and 2011 EOY Ontario Special Citation Recipient, Social Entrepreneur; and Jeff Schnurr, Executive Director, Community Forests International and 2015 EOY Atlantic Special Citation Recipient, Social Entrepreneur.
This year's program national sponsors are TEC Canada, La Presse, RDI, The TMX Group, The Globe and Mail Inc., Merrill Corporation, Kira Talent, Air Canada, SheEO, The Printing House Limited, Hillberg & Berk and MediaOne Creative. Ontario regional sponsors are Captivate Network, Business News Network and Steam Whistle. Pacific regional sponsors are BC Business, Hunt Personnel Temporarily Yours, Captivate Network, The University of British Colombia, Seasons Hotel Vancouver and Leone.
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.
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EY refers to the global organization and may refer to one or more of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.