Elisa Birnbaum

A new book by Canadian journalist and editor-in-chief of SEE Change Magazine, Elisa Birnbaum, chronicles how social entrepreneurs weary of waste and injustice are using business savvy to tackle challenges in their communities.

Part story-telling, part lessons learned, In the Business of Change, is a practical and inspirational guide that showcases social entrepreneurs from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver in such diverse sectors as employment, food, art, education, and social justice.

Impact Hub Ottawa is excited to be hosting the Ottawa book launch of In the Business of Change on Monday June 18th and we were able to ask her a few questions about the book before we get to meet her in person next week:


You’ve been writing about social entrepreneurship for a long time, what inspired you to write a book now?

After almost 15 years as a journalist with a strong niche in social impact, I took a step back and realized I had amassed phenomenal stories and interviewed thousands of inspiring social entrepreneurs. A book just felt like the logical next step in my career, leveraging my platform, networks and most importantly these amazing stories. Most particularly, I found there were some common themes and lessons learned from the social entrepreneurs I’ve profiled over the years. I wanted to share those lessons with anyone tackling this wonderful yet crazy world of social entrepreneurship, hoping that somehow these tips and advice can be of help. On a simpler level, a storyteller at heart, I wanted to provide inspiring and compelling stories that can lift people’s spirits and give them reason to believe in the potential we each have to impact our communities and the world.


What was the most surprising thing you discovered while writing In the Business of Change?

The most surprising thing I learned in writing the book was how, even among the most successful social enterprises, there is constant challenge  – daily, monthly, continuous struggles –  whether for recognition, funding , survival even. It’s not an easy ride, to be sure. And the folks at the helm of these businesses are some of the toughest people I ever met.


Are social enterprises the enterprises of the future?

I absolutely believe they are. With people demanding greater transparency, environmental sustainability and social consciousness from the companies making the products and services they purchase, market demand is simply creating this reality. And with an increasing number of entrepreneurs looking for meaning in their work and in the businesses they launch, I believe we’re facing a perfect storm of sorts, one that will ensure that social enterprise is the model for how we see and set up businesses in the future.


We look forward to seeing you at the In the Business for Change Book Launch on Monday June 18th at Impact Hub Ottawa. Let us know you are coming by RSVPing here!