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Accelerating your growth and impact in 2018

To our esteemed members,

Happy new year!

I’m excited to share our plan and vision for acceleration programming. This plan reflects a lot of learning from this past year, and many very helpful conversations with members and others in and out of the sector. We want to thank members who participated in our focus groups, and who took the time to give us their feedback. So… thank you!

If you’re short on time, the takeaways are this: Through a new “101 to Social Entrepreneurship” course that will be offered throughout the year, monthly workshops (please fill out this short survey), and peer circles (please fill out this other short survey ;), we plan to better serve our members and to help build a more meaningfully inclusive social entrepreneurship and innovation movement. We will continue to elevate our work with our accelerator, Agents of Change, and to seek opportunities to grow this program, as well as continue to provide CSI HookupCatapult, and Soshent. You’ll also get to use a new tool, the Impact Dashboard, launching soon for members to track and visualize their social, environmental and financial impacts. The strategy we’re pursuing is all about “building a ramp” – providing supports all along the way as people move from idea to impact. The early stage supports will be easily accessible, and the further people move along the ramp, the more targeted and advanced the supports become. See the table below for an overview of where we’re at, and where we want to go!



Story to date

2018 goals

Hook Up Available on the intranet, connects members to experts in the CSI community 530 connections to experts and counting! Increase member use by 10%
Catapult Microloan fund of loans of $5,000-$25,000 $315,000 in loans, 0 defaults Provide $75,000 in new loans in 2018
Agents of Change One-year accelerator program providing business and impact measurement coaching, training, peer support, advisors, connections, free workspace, access to capital, and more. Last year we supported 55 startups in various acceleration programs (in all 176 enterprises have gone through CSI accelerators). Agents of Change specifically has supported 102 enterprises, including 30 in 2017. Cohorts in our recent Agents of Change programs have seen impressive results such as a 461% increase in revenues, and 214% increase in paid staff in Agents of Change: City Builders, and a 195% increase in revenues and a 97% increase in the number of people impacted in Agents of Change: Community Health. New Climate Solutions cohort with 20 new enterprises for year-long accelerator program launching in April.
Soshent connects social entrepreneurs & innovators to the programs, opportunities and funding they need to accelerate their success and amplify their impact. Since launching a few months ago we have registered 91 Partners and over 700 users, and have nearly 50 opportunities listed. So far, registered innovators have connected to opportunities nearly 600 times. We’re currently focused on growing our number of users, adding new opportunities, and exploring partnerships in other provinces.
Impact Dashboard The Impact Dashboard allows social enterprises to track and report on their social, environmental, and financial impact. The platform is currently in Beta and will soon be launched to the community. As of now, 90 organizations have been trained to use the platform as early adopters. Our goal for 2018 is to launch this tool to our CSI community and to the public!
Peer Circles Peer circles bring people together around shared learning opportunities and for support. There are currently 5 active peer circles in the community that we know of. Our goal is to become more intentional in supporting the formation and continuation of peer circles. We will soon be launching a pilot for a skills-based peer circle program, and will look into ways to support a handful of other member-led circles.
Workshops Workshops provide “just in time learning” learning opportunities to our members. We partnered to deliver over a dozen workshops and talks, reaching hundreds of people. Based on feedback from our members, we will partner on a dozen workshops throughout the year to complement other learning opportunities and support the needs of our members.
Education We will be launching a 101 to Social Entrepreneurship this year. N/A Our goal is to reach at least 30 enterprises during this year’s pilot.

If you have a few more minutes, here are some more details about all of that:

Training and Capacity Building

  • 101 Training Delivery: Some members shared their concerns that our acceleration work, namely Agents of Change, does not serve enough of our members, and we heard you! AoC plays an important role (see below), but we are going to be rolling out a 101 to Social Entrepreneurship course that will cover all the basics, and business coaches will also be available to hire at discounted rates for consultations. Why this is important: 1) It will help ensure our current early-stage members have access to the knowledge and templates they need to get their ideas off the ground, 2) By making the course low-cost to non-members we will make it accessible to those interested in social entrepreneurship. Combined with other supports such as our Catapult microloans, this will help remove some of the barriers to becoming a social entrepreneur or innovator, as we know this movement is only a movement if everyone can be a part it.

  • Workshops: We will partner with experts to provide workshops that are more advanced than the 101 training. Workshop dates will be in our events calendar and promoted to members. Please fill out this form to let us know which workshops you would be interested in attending.

  • Peer Circles: We will be looking to support a handful of peer circles, and we will soon be rolling out a pilot for a skills-based peer circle program. Would you be interested in leading or joining a peer circle, let us know!


This past year has been an amazing year for Agents of Change with many improvements to our methodology and Agents achieving many important milestones, growing revenues, reducing CO2 emissions, winning awards, securing significant funding, and being covered in the press. Applications for Agents of Change: Climate Solutions 2018 are open, and we have made some improvements to the methodology that will make it an even more effective program. AoC is about deepening our practice and investing in enterprises at the validation stage with the potential to create huge impact.

Ongoing Programs

We will continue to run Hookup and Catapult, to seek partnerships and funding opportunities for emerging programs, and you can expect to see several great events related to our impact and acceleration work, such as Impact Fest 2018 and events connected to AOC: Climate Solutions.

So in nutshell, that’s what we’ll be pursuing and evolving in early 2018. These efforts will help to complement the work of our awesome community animation team, such as their summits, lunch & learns, Salad Club, Innovator Drinks, etc.

So expect to hear more about all of this throughout the year, but if you want to discuss further, please reach out at any time.

To your impact!

Barnabe Geis
Manager of Impact & Accelerators

Not yet a member of CSI? Join us!

The Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) is a nonprofit social enterprise, a global pioneer in coworking, a community and catalyst for people and organizations that are changing the world, with four Toronto locations, one in New York City, and an affiliate space in London, ON. The CSI Community is home to over 1,000 nonprofits, charities and social ventures in Toronto that employ over 2,500 people and generate combined annual revenues of around $250 million. CSI members are turning social, environmental, economic and cultural challenges into opportunities to make the world a better place.

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