Three reasons I’m loving my new city Toronto this week!

I moved to Toronto in July. In fact, cannabis and I were both legalized on the same day, as I got my Permanent Residency a few weeks ago. It hasn’t taken long for me to feel at home here. Maybe because Canadians are really putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to social entrepeneurship. Here’s what has happened already this week (and it’s only Thursday!)

  1. Canada is committing $800 million to social finance. (Ok to be fair, this was announced last week but I didn’t read about it until Monday so I think it counts.) This is amazing not just because of the scale, but because it is an incredible example of public sector leadership in this space. Think about NYC paying billions in subsidies to Amazon to set up HQ2 in Queens. What would it look like if New York instead was to set up a social innovation fund to invest in affordable housing, clean energy, and better transportation alternatives instead?
MSF Panel on Humanitarian Innovation

2. Hundreds gathered at MaRS Discovery District to talk humanitarian innovation Tuesday evening. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hosted an overflowing event on Humanitarian Innovation. I’ve always had huge respect for MSF — reputed to be one of the only large NGOs who lives their truth. Not only are they investing 4% of their annual budget into innovation, they invited both me and James Thuch Madhier of the The Rainmaker Enterprise to join in on the panel. It’s not so often that large NGOs are open to sharing the stage with startup social enterprises, so we were grateful for the opportunity. You can check out the live recording as well on Chris Houston’s article about the event.

Here I am with Dennis Zaidi, founder of The Clean Lakes

3. Social enterprises win across the board Wednesday evening at startup pitch contest. Last night, I was pleasantly surprised to see that all three finalists pitching at the AAGEF Entrepreneur Challenge were women, myself, Anita Ramdas of Shufflespace, and Ivonne Lau of Retainify. This is the very first pitch competition we have been in that was not for women founders where this has been the case. Not only that, the audience voted overwhelmingly for impact as The Clean Lakes took home the award for runner up and NeedsList won both the Grand Jury prize and Audience choice award. This is again, especially significant in light of the fact that Clean Lakes and NeedsList were the only companies competing that are double bottom line (for profit/for purpose) winning a straight up business competition.

EEKS! NeedsList won the grand jury AND audience award!

So I may be snowed in for the next few months, but I will know I’m surrounded by folks committed to social innovation, who believe in our work, and are supporting us every step of the way. There’s no place like (my new) home. Thanks Toronto!