Inspired to Action in Vancouver

Another great event in the Hollyhock Room at the Tides Renewal Centre at Flack Block! 

 Inspired to Action in Vancouver:  

By Shijie Lu

 I was very excited to attend my first Vancouver for Acumen meeting. I had just finished reading The Blue Sweater  and was feeling pumped about the chance to make a difference in my neighbourhood.

I’d never heard of Acumen until reading Seth Godin’s ‘Tribes '. After the fourth mention, I had to find out more about this company he kept raving about. I visited Acumen’s website and I was immediately inspired. Using entrepreneurial approaches to address poverty was so novel to me, yet made so much sense. I felt I had finally found a career path I wanted to follow.

I drove down from Whistler especially for this event. For those of you who haven’t been glued to the TV for the past week watching the Winter Olympics unfold, Whistler is a two hour drive from Vancouver, just so you get a sense of how big a deal this event was. The meeting was held in a beautiful heritage building on the Downtown Eastside called the Flack Block, which is the social entrepreneurship hub in Vancouver. I didn’t know anyone there, but as soon as I walked through the door, Christine Lowe, one of the Vancouver for Acumen co-founders, introduced herself and her colleagues.

There was an incredible mix of people, students and recent graduates from the University of British Columbia, a former Acumen intern, as well as key influencers in the community working for Vancouver-based socially-minded businesses such as Vancity, Octopus Strategies and Renewal Partners. Here I was thinking about having to move to New York to follow my dream to work in social entrepreneurship, when there’s an entire community right at my doorstep.

NJ Thompson, another co-founder of the Vancouver chapter, started off the evening by showing Jacqueline Novogratz’s TED talk <> , telling her inspiring Blue Sweater story. Wasting no time, we split into groups and talked about what we thought Vancouver could do to help Acumen Fund.

My group felt the best way to help was to raise cash. However, we felt it was important to create long-term relationships with donors. Because Acumen Fund’s investments usually take between five to seven years, we thought it would be great for supporters to be able to grow with the fund, to see their donations through to the completion of a project. Mark McCoy, a particularly passionate member of our group and a recent UBC business grad gave a brilliant analogy, “BMW runs people through the 1, 3, 5,7 series as they get older and earn more money. Why can’t we do that with not-for-profits?”

After twenty minutes of discussion we went around the room and heard each group’s thoughts. A common theme that kept cropping up was the need to make Acumen Fund relevant to Vancouver. Many people felt that we needed to put it in a Canadian context, whether that be raising funds for Canadian social entrepreneurs, or developing a local fellows program.

At the end of the session we decided that there were other key influencers in the community that we needed to engage. We all wrote down three people that we would bring to the next meeting.

The next meeting’s location and date are to be confirmed, but if even half of the people who I met show up, it promises to be an epic event!

Photos of our Chapter meeting are available here.     To learn about the Vancouver chapter’s next event, sign up here.

And information about holding your next meeting in the beautiful Hollyhock Room is availabher HERE.