Building Social Enterprises Better and Faster

Impact Academy is an action-oriented learning and incubation program, optimized for early-stage social entrepreneurs. Since 2013, this Impact Hub Ottawa program has helped 125 graduates take their ideas and impact to the next level.

We are currently accepting applications from Ontario-based social entrepreneurs and enterprises for our Fall Impact Academy cohort, running November 2016 to April 2017

How does Impact Academy help? We caught up with recent program grad Jessie Pierre to chat about her experience. Jessie developed a small business specializing in green event management through the Impact Academy program in Spring 2016.

Hi Jessie! Tell us a bit about your company.

I started an Event Management business called JessEco Events, a social enterprise committed to delivering event services with simple practices that minimize the overall carbon footprint on the environment. I organize functions ranging in size and scope, from small non-profit fundraisers to large corporate conferences. The vision is to empower people with the education and tools to help create more sustainable events, and a more sustainable future.

What drew you to Impact Academy, how did you find out about the program?

I was already a member of Impact Hub Ottawa so I heard about the program through the newsletter and website. I had always thought about doing a training program for entrepreneurs, and Impact Academy was a perfect fit given the focus on building a social enterprise.

What was your experience like, how did Impact Academy help?

I had a wonderful experience and I can’t say enough good things about Impact Academy. It provided me with guidance and the boost I needed to finally get my business started in a great environment. The facilitator and guest speakers were amazing and the activities were engaging! Impact Academy also gave me support and access to various resources and tools (i.e. meetings with consultants in areas like Business Model Canvas and Branding, plus a Hub membership upgrade, etc.) that I wouldn’t have had if I was not in the program.

What was your favourite part of the program?

My favourite thing was learning how to use the Business Model Canvas as a social enterprise. Before I started the program, I was not quite sure what direction I wanted to take but this method helped me get more focused and simplify solving the problem I wanted to solve – which is producing more sustainable events. I also really enjoyed the ‘Boost’ session. Measuring impact is not an easy task for me, and this taught me effective ways to measure impact and work more efficiently. I had a few “ah ha” moments taking this session.

What was it like to be with other social impact classmates?

There are so many interesting, like-minded people in this city doing great things for the community, who share similar challenges. There were projects from running a food business to employ people with invisible disabilities, to helping seniors find volunteer opportunities, to corporate social responsibility consulting and making school grounds more green. I connected with a landscape architect, Andrew Harvey, who ended up asking to me to work with him on a project which lead to my first major client. Making connections is definitely key in building any business.

For more on Jessie’s social enterprise and services, visit her site JessEcoEvents.

APPLY TODAY! Deadline October 24, 2016

Impact Academy is available at no cost to participants, thanks to the Ontario Social Impact Voucher (OSIV) Program and Ontario Centres of Excellence, supporting the financial sustainability and growth of social enterprises across the province. The program is also made possible with generous support from our partners at RBC Royal Bank.

Heather Ward