Monthly Archives

January 2015

Salto Social: The Final Stretch

By | Accelerator, Quito, RADIUS Ventures | No Comments

Milica Pavlovic is spending three months with RADIUS in Quito, Ecuador and reporting back on her experiences.

Salto SocialWith only one class left in the Salto Social incubator program, this week the five teams of Ecuadorian entrepreneurs worked together to calculate the finances behind their business models.

This second to last session proved an eventful one, with Felipe and Jose from Reino Funghi presenting their delicious mushrooms for the Salto Social and Impacto Quito members to enjoy. During the class break, we helped ourselves to samples while the team behind the mushrooms briefly explained the cultivation process and their passion for their product.

Next week, with the wrap-up of the Salto Social incubator, the teams will prepare their final lessons and begin to formulate their business pitch for a community event which will take place the following week.

Felipe and Jose from Reino Funghi

Felipe and Jose from Reino Funghi

Through this, the teams will apply the skills acquired throughout the Salto Social incubator and have the opportunity to present their innovations to mentors, community members, and other interested stakeholders.

Between the intensive incubator classes on Wednesday and the legal aid workshop on Thursday and Friday which some of the Salto Social team members are attending, this week has been a busy one for both Salto Social and Impacto Quito!

Read Milica’s last post about her time in Quito here.


Admitting “I don’t know”: Vulnerability as a catalyst for social innovation at RECODE

By | RADIUS Edu, Social Innovation | No Comments

Zoya Jiwa is a 3rd year student at Simon Fraser University studying Sociology and sustainable community development. She continuously seeks to understand the complexity of systemic social and environmental problems and thrives when she’s immersed in an atmosphere of growth that fosters creativity, community, and ideas with a positive impact. Zoya was thrilled to join the RADIUS team in Toronto as a Student Ambassador at RECODE: Ignite conference, and shares her experience here.

A highlight of RECODE: Ignite was the role of vulnerability as a catalyst for building a socially innovative community. While eagerly listening to students from across Canada explain the projects they are working on, I noticed that their eyes sparkled with sincere enthusiasm. Their pace would quicken as they smiled, sharing the story of what inspired their move to action. Diverse initiatives included social entrepreneurship events, developing mental wellness apps, and inventing medical equipment.  Interestingly, in each scenario, the student recognized that their ideas could have failed. In fact, some of them did in early stages. However, they explained their dedication to the iterative process, to thoughtful design, and to the unique experimentation required to tackle important problems and generate resilient solutions.

As conference discussions unravelled, the dialogue surrounding vulnerability emerged amongst students and faculty members. We gave voice to our fear of failure, to the reasons why we avoid conversations about what is not working in organizations, and to the anxiety of admitting: “I don’t know.”

Zoya Jiwa, a 3rd year student at Simon Fraser University, joined the RADIUS team in Toronto as a Student Ambassador at the RECODE: Ignite conference.

Zoya Jiwa, a 3rd year student at Simon Fraser University, joined the RADIUS team in Toronto as a Student Ambassador at the RECODE: Ignite conference.

None of us were alone in these obstacles.  From that moment, we shifted the narrative of our vulnerability. We reclaimed it as a birthplace of our innovations, creativity, and community. Our personal and professional connections grew authentically.  Together, we envisioned our ideal student experiences at our post-secondary institutions. An overflow of ideas explored interdisciplinary learning outcomes, new measurements of success, and ways to introduce more social innovation opportunities to students throughout their degree. This new space to openly share led to further ideation and strategizing sessions (which are still ongoing online!).

In seeking to understand and address complex, systemic problems, we have to engage with overwhelming issues willingly and courageously. Perhaps this means initially feeling lost in new questions and taking risks in attempting to find answers. This may mean finding a balance between being inclusive and disruptive. This may mean bringing our heads and hearts into challenging conversations. Although it is not an easy journey, it is certainly meaningful. It is fuelled by exciting opportunities and continuous growth, embracing the collective strength that results from our individual vulnerability.

RECODE: Ignite showed me that social innovation and change – whether on a local, provincial, or national level – requires sustainable, catalyzing collaboration. As presenter Zahra Ebrahim said, it involves “finding comfort in ambiguity, the willingness to share half formed thoughts to put the pieces together.”  It’s about trusting and trying, placing boundless possibilities and purposeful processes above perfection.  


Multicultural Understanding Initiative is our first Social Innovation Fund recipient

By | Funding, RADIUS Edu, Social Innovation | No Comments

RADIUS is happy to announce that the first recipient of Social Innovation Fund moneys is the Multicultural Understanding Initiative. The Project’s funding application outlined its vision in this short animated video:

Minghui Yu, the leader of the project, is an SFU Management of Technology MBA student (cohort 2014) and works at UBC as a programmer analyst. He came to Canada in 2003 from China. He describes the Multicultural Understanding Initiative:

“This project is to promote multicultural understanding. I believe the capability to identify and understand commonalities and dissimilarities in different cultures and to associate those commonalities and dissimilarities with concrete examples in a culture context are two key components in successful multiculturalism.”

Minghui Yu

This seed funding will help Minghui further develop his idea and conduct community consultation. His tentative project plan outlines three phases:

Phase 1: Build an online repository for perfect (or excellent) translation of proverbs in different languages. A perfect translation means culture-bound translation and literary translation with aspects of pragmatic meaning.

Phase 2: Build an online repository of comparable historical events and historical persons in different cultures.

Phase 3: Build an online repository to compare the commonalities, similarities, and dissimilarities in religions and cultures.

Active community engagement and result-oriented practice will be throughout the project. I will invite local community members to participate in this project. The delivery of the project is to provide a cookbook alike resource to help Canadians enhance multicultural understanding.”

Social Innovation funding is available to SFU students from RADIUS in partnership with Sustainable SFU. Read more for details and to submit a funding application.


Quito: Fireside Chats with Leaders of Social Innovation

By | Accelerator, Quito, Social Innovation | No Comments

Milica Pavlovic is spending the next three months with RADIUS in Quito, Ecuador and reporting back on her experiences.

Fireside Chat event image - speakersOn my first official day in Quito, I was invited to attend Impacto Quito’s Charlas Intimas con Lideres de Innovacion Social (Fireside Chats with Leaders of Social Innovation) – the local Shaping Davos event leading up to the live, online Shaping Davos forum on behalf of Global Shapers and the 2015 World Economic Forum.

The Fireside Chats featured 5 local business leaders speaking to an audience of 40 local social entrepreneurs about how they achieved success within an innovation resistant socio-cultural environment.

Among the speakers were: Santiago Peralta and Carla Barboto from Pacari Chocolates, Leslie Jarrin from Thoughtworks, Martin Acosta from Kiwa potato chips, and Juan Sebastian Aguirre (Apitatan) – a talented street artist whose witty & distinct art has attracted international attention.

Each of the speakers exuded an unparalleled passion for their venture and candidly shared their wisdom with an engaged audience of budding social entrepreneurs.

Apitatan - fish

One of Apitatan’s street art pieces

During Santiago Peralta’s presentation, I immediately recognized the Pacari chocolate brand and later learned that the company had recently expanded their business to many international markets, including Vancouver, Canada. As a notorious chocolate lover, I felt honored to share the same space as Santiago & Carla, who later treated us to complementary samples of their world renowned, award-winning chocolates.

After the presentations, the audience and keynote speakers broke off into teams to mingle, network, and exchange ideas, challenges, and personal experiences of social innovation in Ecuador. At this point the altitude and full day of travel was beginning to its toll, so I sat back and enjoyed the warm environment and a complementary beer. As the night wound down, many people stuck around to socialize, listen, learn, and share their stories, creating a safe and welcoming space to enhance a growing network of current and future change makers in Quito.


Although it had proven to be a long and eventful first day, that night I left the Impacto Quito office feeling welcomed, excited, and part of a tight-knit community of like-minded people forging their paths to make a difference in the world. What better way to end my first day in a new place?

Fireside Chat crowd

Back from Quito’s Salto Social accelerator

By | Accelerator, Quito, RADIUS Ventures, Social Innovation | No Comments

RADIUS Director Shawn Smith returned last week from working with the Ecuadorean entrepreneurs in our “Salto Social” accelerator program in Quito. Run in conjunction with partners Impacto Quito and Global Agents for Change, the program is the first of its kind in Ecuador.

Running from October 2014 through February 2015, Salto Social is adapted from the 10 week Trampoline program RADIUS developed for social ventures attempting to validate their business models, which has already met success with entrepreneurs in a number of BC communities.

Shawn Quito Jan 2015 2

Shawn was in Quito last week for a special session, and joins other weeks by video conference from Vancouver in support of the excellent on the ground delivery team of Andres Ypes and Daniella Peralvo, both from Quito.

Shawn Quito Jan 2015 1

The 5 ventures in this inaugural cohort are:

Suspiro Taller – Suspiro is a socially conscious design workshop. We work with artisans from Ecuador to create textiles and bags using natural materials and traditional knowledge.

Hongos Alinimbi – an organic mushroom production company working to deliver fresh, organic mushrooms to local markets, restaurants and consumers.

Kradac – Working on a made in Ecuador prosthetics solution to create access to prosthetic limbs at dramatically lower prices.

Lunyxtec – designers of sustainable products for Ecuador, currently validating their business model for a rural biodigestor that can be sold to medium sized farms (a biodigestor is an airtight chamber in which anaerobic digestion of manure, biosolids, food waste, other organic wastewater streams or a combination of these feedstocks occurs. This process produces commodities such as biogas (a blend of methane and carbon dioxide), animal bedding, and fertilizer.)

Carpazo – a cultural events production company building on a very successful local music festival.

Salto Social Accelerator

RADIUS intern Milica Pavlovic arrived in Quito this week to continue supporting development of this program, as well as an additional collaboration with Impacto Quito to create a social entrepreneurship bootcamp for youth in Quito which we hope will launch in April. Milica connected with us through her work with Youth In Development, one of the current cohort of Slingshot Ventures. Milica will also be blogging about her experience, so stay tuned for more updates!