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Accelerate from Anywhere

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Are you looking to grow your entrepreneurial or intrapreneurial competencies to create positive impact and prepare for a fast-changing job market? 

As the world looks to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time for the entrepreneurially-minded to step up to address pressing social and environmental challenges, and to develop the 21st century skills needed to succeed.

CSI has teamed up with Alterna Savings to bring you Social Entrepreneurship 101: an 8-week, part-time online program that covers the foundations of social entrepreneurship, from making sure you’ve identified the right problem, to developing a solution, to turning your idea into a sustainable business model. If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves, invest in your personal and professional growth, and turn your idea into impact, this is the right course for you! 

Details

Develop a network of fellow change-makers through a series of 8 weekly 3-hour sessions. Our highly-engaging sessions meet virtually on Zoom and communicate in our Slack workspace to build a community of practice for our learning journey together. Each session includes activities, tools, case studies, breakout rooms, and cohort-wide discussions. Additionally, this course asks participants to complete 2-4 hours of Action Work outside of our live-sessions to begin putting your ideas into practice. 

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participants reported that SE101 has been more impactful than other entrepreneurship programs they have taken

When and Where

Classes begin September 2021
Online: Zoom Classroom and Slack workspace

What You’ll Learn

Social Entrepreneurship 101 is an 8-week program delivered in two phases:

Phase 1 (Weeks 1-4): Explore your purpose as a social entrepreneur. Discover your problem space. Map opportunities for impact.

Together, we’ll begin with some of the big questions you may be asking yourself, such as:

  • I see so many urgent problems to solve. Which should I focus on specifically, and why?
  • There are so many things to do to get started. How do I prioritize?
  • What skills, knowledge, connections, and experience can I leverage to make an impact?
  • How do I move from idea to action?

Phase 2 (Weeks 4-8): Discover stakeholders. Build your business and financial models. Understand how to measure your impact. Explore funding options.

Questions answered during this phase include:

  • I have developed a clear idea of the impact that I want my enterprise to generate. How do I design my business to reach this impact?
  • How can I generate sustainable revenue (and profit) from my social enterprise?
  • What resources am I going to need to start my enterprise?
  • What funding models and options should I explore?

By the end of the 8 weeks, you’ll gain experience, confidence, and practice with core competencies in social entrepreneurship such as critical thinking, systems thinking, active listening, storytelling, decision-making, and business modelling.

What’s Included

In addition to the 8-week Social Entrepreneurship 101 online curriculum, participants will also gain access to online CSI community perks:
  • Invitations to ongoing CSI additional learning online workshops
  • Access to a SE101 community wide #Slack channel
  • Access to valuable tools, guides and worksheets for your future use

Who you’ll meet

You will connect with a cohort of changemakers who are similarly driven and committed to making an impact. SE 101 is open to everyone interested in making the world better through entrepreneurial thinking and approaches.

Social Entrepreneurship 101 was developed in partnership with experienced social entrepreneurs, coaches, facilitators, and educators, and based on the learnings from over 10 years of training social enterprises.

Gonzalo Duarte speaking to SE101 students at CSI Annex

Roll up your sleeves, invest in your growth, and turn your idea into impact

Part of the CSI Educates Initiative

At CSI, we equip people, organizations, and systems with the skills, knowledge, and networks to evolve their leadership skills and entrepreneurial competencies. Learn more about our approach here

HELPING SMALL AND MEDIUM BUSINESSES GO LOW-CARBON COMPETITION

Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) make up 98.2% of businesses in Canada, and emit as much climate change-causing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per year as Canada’s combined transportation sector, including every car, truck, train, plane, and ship.

We launched a competition on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Climate CoLab platform to solicit a broad range of possible solutions to help SMEs in Ontario reduce their direct and indirect GHG emissions while helping them thrive.

“Every tonne of CO2 we emit causes at least $85 in damages, while on the other hand we know that meaningful climate action would add around $26 trillion to the global economy by 2030. The proposals in this competition demonstrated a broad range of approaches and tools that SMEs and their supporters can use to build that more resilient, flourishing low-carbon economy of the future.”

– Barnabe Geis, CSI’s Director of Programs

Many SMEs face barriers to lowering their emissions, from lacking the technical expertise to assess options for reducing emissions to not being able to afford the upfront costs of a low-carbon technology. However, once the right technologies or practices are implemented, the savings and other benefits to SMEs can be substantial.

During the application period, thirty proposals were submitted. Those proposals were voted on by the public, as well as assessed by a team of six judges for their desirability, feasibility, scalability, and impact.

Judge’s Choice Winner

The winner of the Judges’ Choice Award is Climate Smart’s project: Data drives smart decisions: Interactive BEEPs for Municipalities and Businesses. Climate Smart has built a reputation as one of Canada’s leading organizations helping SMEs reduce greenhouse gas emissions from a range of sources. Their report 200 million tons of opportunity documents the ways in which those reductions have been achieved. In their contest proposal, Climate Smart proposed Business Energy and Emissions Profiles (or a BEEP) as an innovative carbon mapping tool that unlocks SME business data to help cities and on-the-ground partners identify and prioritize opportunities to work strategically with their local businesses to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop data-driven storytelling on climate action. To learn more about BEEPs and to see an interactive map of North American cities that have launched a BEEP, go to beep.eco.

People’s Choice Winner

The winner of the People’s Choice Award is Pitstop Connect’s Reduce Vehicle Emissions with Predictive Maintenance. Pitstop has developed a software platform that aggregates data and uses machine learning to predict vehicle issues before they happen. This means mitigating vehicle breakdowns, informing hazardous recalls and future vehicle designs, and making drivers aware of their emissions and environmental impact. To learn more about the app and how it can help drivers solve problems before they happen, go to pitstopconnect.com.

The judges’ runners-up in the contest were Eco Business NetworkGrow Green and ioAirflow. The judges are listed on the contest page.

The winners received membership and workspace at Climate Ventures.

Part of the CSI Accelerates Initiative

At CSI, we support entrepreneurs with solutions that drive change through acceleration and incubation. Learn more about our approach here.

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WOSEN’s Grow Program

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Do you want to move your business forward with confidence?

Are you looking to build traction, expand your partnership and network opportunities, and develop yourself further as a social entrepreneur?

We’re here to help!

CSI and the Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network (WOSEN) have designed a twenty-week program to support a cohort of ten women social entrepreneurs as they build, refine, and test their business models, and learn new skills to help them succeed. We serve trans and cis women, and programming is inclusive of Two-Spirit, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals.

You will collaborate with a supportive community of facilitators, experts, coaches, and a cohort of peers as you explore two main themes throughout the program: 1) business model development and 2) leadership. We will support you through an immersive learning journey with a hands-on, practical approach to refining and validating your business model. You will engage in focused research to identify the key market gaps you want to address and conduct interviews with potential clients and partners to help you validate your business model and test critical assumptions.

Our team will support you in developing emergent strategies to refine and differentiate your product or service based on your research insights. You will gain leadership skills and competencies required to better understand your market and build your business strategy with intention and impact. Participation is free, we take no equity, and your intellectual property remains your own!

Applications for Grow cohort are now closed.

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INDIVIDUAL COACHING
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PEER ENGAGEMENT SESSIONS
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ONLINE WORKSHOPS AND EXPERT SESSIONS
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TOOLS AND RESOURCES
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NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES AND FREE CSI MEMBERSHIP

When and Where

Weekly on Tuesdays until March 1, 2022. No workshops on December 21 & 28. Our programming will take place on Zoom and Slack. 

Onboarding & Orientation: Week 0 (Oct 12)

Get to know your cohort and how to navigate our online program.

Part I

Business Model Refinement & Implementation: Weeks 1-7 (Oct 19 – Nov 30)

Engage in hands-on, practical research to identify the key market gaps you want to address. Learn the process of creating a sustainable business model and apply your learnings in real time towards your business. Connect with experts to learn how to conduct market research and interviews on a budget to iterate your business model based on your stakeholder needs. Get support with networking and creating effective partnerships.

Part II

Integrate Insights & Develop Your Strategy: Weeks 8-9 (Dec 7-14)

Assimilate data you’ve collected and integrate insights from your research and interviews to develop your strategy moving forward.

NOTE: No workshops on December 21st & 28th

Part III

Build Traction: Weeks 12-19 (Jan 4 – Feb 22)

Continue to iterate your business model and learn more about financial modelling to make better informed financial decisions. Meet our marketing, sales, and communications experts to help you develop more effective strategies for communicating your offering to your target audience. You will also have the opportunity to participate in a WOSEN Pitch Showcase & Networking Event! Deliver your pitch and connect with potential partners and funders in the entrepreneurship sector.

Offboarding: Week 20 (March 1, 2022)

Connect to relevant resources and explore your next steps for growth and support.

After the Grow program is done, you will have 1) gained confidence in knowing how to refine and validate your business model, 2) improved your leadership skills to support your team and 3) developed a clear strategy as you grow your enterprise and navigate forward.

Questions? For more information, please contact Mitalie Makhani, Senior Programs Manager & WOSEN Central Ontario Program Lead, at mitalie[at]socialinnovation[dot]ca.

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Two women speaking to one another
Three women from the WOSEN team smiling at the camera

About WOSEN

The Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network (WOSEN) offers a suite of programs for women interested in starting or growing their own ventures that seek to have a positive social, cultural or environmental impact through their operations, and/or the sale of their products or services.

WOSEN is dedicated to equity and inclusion, and the term “women” is used collectively throughout this page. We serve trans and cis women, and our programming is inclusive of Two-Spirit, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals. We prioritize those from underserved and underrepresented communities, including Indigenous folks, folks in rural or remote regions, racialized folks, newcomer folks, LGBTQ2+, and folks with disabilities.

Our programming works to unleash the entrepreneurial energy and capacity of women who have solutions that put people and the planet first. Together, we are redesigning how business supports are provided so these entrepreneurs can build the skills, make the connections, and receive the coaching needed to achieve their missions.

See all the programs within the WOSEN initiative here!

Partners and Funders

WOSEN is funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. The Government of Canada is advancing gender equality, women’s economic empowerment, and supporting women entrepreneurs through the new Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, announced in the Budget 2018. It is a $2-billion investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.

Fed Dev Ontario

Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network

Part of the CSI Accelerates Initiative

At CSI, we support entrepreneurs’ success with resources, mentors, expertise and connections that lead to viable enterprising solutions. Learn more about our approach here

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Climate Ventures

Door to the Climate Ventures space in CSI Spadina

Proving Climate Solutions Are possible

Located in the CSI Spadina in downtown Toronto, Climate Ventures is a unique space dedicated to climate entrepreneurs, innovators, leaders, and their teams.

Climate Ventures is not just about the climate and carbon emissions, it’s fundamentally about our profound relationship to the earth, air, and water. Our vision is to turn the climate crisis into an opportunity for human transformation. Climate Ventures members are collaborating to build the low-carbon economy that puts people and planet first. 

Climate Ventures Coworking Membership

With coworking packages to fit your needs, you’ll get:

  • 24/7 access to office space
  • networking + advisory services
  • goal-oriented peer circles and online groups (in GHG quantification, business modelling, pitching, and other areas)
  • introductions to funders and investors
  • exclusive events and programs
  • member rates on meeting rooms and event spaces
  • free coffee and tea
  • high-speed internet
  • photocopiers and printers
  • mailboxes
  • option to join shared health and dental plan

You’ll gain immediate access to Climate Ventures members, advisors, community of 2,500 social entrepreneurs and innovators, exclusive programs, and networking and training opportunities.

Part of the CSI Accelerates Initiative

At CSI, we support entrepreneurs with solutions that drive change through acceleration and incubation. Learn more about our approach here.

League of Social Entrepreneurs

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Building Back Better: Creating the League of Social Entrepreneurs

We all know that we need to Build Back Better, post-COVID. There are now dozens of campaigns across the globe that are calling for an economy that is intentionally regenerative, equitable and prosperous for all. One that puts people and planet first. But how do we get to that inclusive, affordable, and low carbon future? How do we get to the Next Economy?

For the past 16 years, the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) has been honing its craft, building solutions, and accelerating thousands of nonprofit and for profit small social purpose organizations (SPO’s). These organizations are now helping to solve social and environmental challenges. In response to COVID-19, we are ready to take our work to the next level and to start building the Next Economy.

The Next Economy requires that we intentionally pursue and nourish social enterprises that work to solve pressing challenges while creating generative business models. This is where the League of Social Entrepreneurs comes in. The League will combine their entrepreneurial energy with social innovation labs and the firepower of acceleration and incubation to create enterprising solutions that ”build back better.”

Outcomes

The League will respond to Challenges issued by partners and stakeholders (government, corporate, or institutional) to help develop, pilot, validate, and incubate solutions into thriving social ventures.

Solutions Lab Process

Convene a small group of government, community, entrepreneurs, NGOs, and institutions (with a special focus on those agencies on the front lines) — to clarify, research, and better understand a specific social challenge.

Part of the CSI Solves Initiative

At CSI, we use labs, social R&D and prototypes that identify new and improved models that can transform existing paradigms and reveal market opportunities. Learn more about our approach here.

Earth Tech

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Earth Tech is a six-month accelerator for climate or freshwater technology solutions that will positively impact communities and ecosystems across Canada.

We know that Canada’s freshwater ecosystems are threatened across many indicators, and that our country is warming at twice the global average, while we continue to have some of the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world.

The good news is that we still have time to stop and reverse global warming, and, in the process, give rise to the next economy – one that is just, carbon neutral, circular, and regenerative.

Urgent action is needed to ensure a flourishing future for people and our planet.

Earth Tech helps ventures validate their solutions, advance their Technology Readiness Levels, become financially sustainable, and create meaningful impact.

Earth Tech will run once a year from 2020–2022, supporting up to 55 startups and nonprofits advancing freshwater and climate solutions to our greatest environmental challenges.

During our previous climate programs, participating early-stage ventures earned and raised over $22M and supported 260 jobs. We support Earth Tech ventures with:

Entrepreneurs-in-Residence: Bi-weekly one-to-one time with top, seasoned Entrepreneurs-in-Residence for outcomes-based coaching.

Advisors: Office hours with dozens of advisors — including from RBC, Bullfrog Power, VCIB, and WWF-Canada — with varied expertise and networks.

Workspace: Free workspace at Climate Ventures in downtown Toronto, and access to the Centre for Social Innovation’s facilities, amenities and vibrant community.

Workshops: Customized, just-in-time learning provided through group workshops on topics like investment readiness, impact measurement, and product development.

Connections: Access to our network of networks, and ongoing connections to the talent, services and opportunities that can make all the difference.

Mastermind Groups: Monthly group sessions facilitated by the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence for peer-peer learning and support.

Increased Profile: Increased profile through marketing, storytelling, media relations, and events.

Pitch Night: Pitch Night where our ventures pitch to potential investors, funders and partners, in order to wrap the program and kickstart future opportunities.

Part of the CSI Accelerates Initiative

At CSI, we support entrepreneurs with solutions that drive change through acceleration and incubation. Learn more about our approach here.

Agents of Change: SDGs

Multi-coloured wheel graphic representing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Want to make a difference in the world? Are you between 18 and 30 years old?

In these uncertain times, anything is possible – and we need budding change makers like you now, more than ever.

Join this free, virtual social entrepreneurship program and learn how you can help drive progress towards the world’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)!

Social entrepreneurs tackle important issues like climate change, plastic pollution, accessibility, employment training, and much more, all while generating revenues. Interested in learning what it takes to be a social entrepreneur? All you need to participate is some passion, commitment and a reliable internet connection.

The 100 selected participants will begin an 8-week, impact-driven social entrepreneurship journey, and will work on creating their very own social enterprise aligned with the SDGs. Put your ideas into action with 24 hours of live, virtual class time, 4 hours of specialized coaching, and a library of tools!

Agents of Change: Sustainable Development Goals is a national program run by the Centre for Social Innovation and made possible by the Government of Canada. Our Eastern Canada cohort launched March 2020 and concluded in April 2020. Our Western Canada cohort began in June 2020 and concluded in July 2020.

You can create meaningful change in the world!

From making sure you’ve identified the right problem to turning your solution into a sustainable business model, if you’re ready to roll up your sleeves, invest in your personal and professional growth, and learn how to turn an idea into impact, this is the right program for you!

We will meet virtually once a week for class time, and you will meet with either your coach or your peer group weekly. By the end of 8 weeks you will feel knowledgeable and confident to begin your own entrepreneurial journey.

What You’ll Learn

Weeks 1–4: Explore your purpose as a social entrepreneur. Discover your areas of interest. Map opportunities for impact.

Together, we’ll begin with some of the big questions you may be asking yourself, such as:

  • What are the SDGs and how can social enterprises play their part?
  • I see so many urgent problems to solve. Which should I focus on specifically, and why?
  • There are so many things to do to get started. How do I prioritize?
  • What skills, knowledge, connections, and experience can I leverage to make an impact?
  • How do I move from idea to action?

Weeks 5–8: Discover stakeholders. Build your business and financial models. Identify funding options and enterprise impact.

Questions answered during this phase include:

  • I have developed a clear idea of the impact that I want my enterprise to generate. How do I design my business to reach this impact?
  • How can I generate sustainable revenue (and profit) from my social enterprise?
  • What resources am I going to need to start my enterprise?
  • What funding models and options should I explore?
  • How will I measure its impact and report its contribution towards the SDGs?

By the end of the 8 weeks, you will have a deeper understanding of the SDGs and how to create social enterprises that drive progress towards one or a number of the SDGs!

Certificate of Completion

Participants who complete the course will receive a Certificate of Completion from the Centre for Social Innovation. A certificate of completion from this program will signify that participants understand the building blocks of Social Entrepreneurship, and how to generate meaningful impact and progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals.

Part of the CSI Accelerates Initiative

At CSI, we support entrepreneurs with solutions that drive change through acceleration and incubation. Learn more about our approach here.

WOSEN

Illustration of the faces of five women on light blue background

Support for your women-led social enterprise

The Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network (WOSEN) offers a suite of programs for women interested in starting or growing their own ventures that seek to have a positive social, cultural or environmental impact through their operations, and/or the sale of their products or services.

WOSEN is dedicated to equity and inclusion, and the term “women” is used collectively throughout this page. We serve trans and cis women, and our programming is inclusive of Two-Spirit, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals. We prioritize those from underserved and underrepresented communities, including Indigenous folks, folks in rural or remote regions, racialized folks, newcomer folks, LGBTQ2+, and folks with disabilities.

Our programming works to unleash the entrepreneurial energy and capacity of women who have solutions that put people and the planet first. Together, we are redesigning how business supports are provided so these entrepreneurs can build the skills, make the connections, and receive the coaching needed to achieve their missions.

Three women posing for photo (one of them WOSEN program manager, Mitalie)

Read the Report

The Interim Report captures the story of WOSEN, from launch to mid-way through its three-and-a-half-year initiative (2019-2023). It conveys the collaborative’s intentions, progress, learnings and impact in meeting its goals. It offers a deeper understanding of the complexity of issues that the collaborative lives with in undertaking this work, i.e., its co-management, emerging challenges and future direction in service of continuing to enhance practices that create a more equitable and inclusive women’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. It also provides an opportunity to celebrate WOSEN’s innovative approaches and successes.

Download the WOSEN Interim Report (Full)

Download the WOSEN Interim Report (Summary)

The WOSEN Programs

CSI offers three free programs within the WOSEN initiative:

An ongoing support system for women entrepreneurs looking to get investment-ready.

A 9-week program for women entrepreneurs at the ideation stage.

A 20-week program for women entrepreneurs looking to refine their business model and build leadership skills.

WOSEN News

Part of the CSI Accelerates Initiative

At CSI, we support entrepreneurs’ success with resources, mentors, expertise and connections that lead to viable enterprising solutions. Learn more about our approach here.

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Agents of Change 2018-2019: Climate Solutions

An accelerator for early-stage social enterprises with promising products, services, and technologies that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Social entrepreneurs are turning the climate crisis into an opportunity to build the more resilient, clean, and low-carbon economy of the future.

Over two years, the Centre for Social Innovation is supporting 38 enterprises working on climate change solutions. Meet our second cohort!

HOW WE SUPPORTED THEIR SUCCESS

We supported these climate change-fighting enterprises with:

BUSINESS AND IMPACT EXPERTS

Top-rated, seasoned coaches to accelerate their growth and amplify their impact.

 

IMPACT MEASUREMENT

Personalized support to help them develop and track impact metrics, including GHG reductions.

CONNECTIONS

Advisory services from senior leaders, connection to our 2,500 members, and pitching to investors and partners on Demo Night.

PROGRAMMING

Take part in an enterprise bootcamp, workshops, monthly progress reviews and peer circles.

WORKSPACE

Free workspace for 12 months.

FUNDING

Over $20,000 in cash awards, access to microloans, and connections to funders and investors.

INCREASED PROFILE

Recognition as an Agent of Change, and promotional support to increase their reach.

MEMBERSHIP AT CSI

All the benefits of membership at CSI, including access to exclusive programs, member socials, discounts, and events.

Past cohorts of Agents of Change have seen impressive growth over a one-year period 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.

The 2017 cohort of startups have made incredible progress, such as securing investments, growing their revenues, hiring new staff, winning awards, and most importantly, towards reducing carbon emissions.

Ripple Farms Testimonial: Brandon Hebor and Steven Bourne, the founders of Ripple Farms, build vertical farms with integrated aquaponics systems using shipping containers. “The Centre for Social Innovation’s Agents of Change accelerator has been an invaluable experience in our start-up journey and continued growth. We became revenue positive during the program and were able to secure large sums of money to scale further. I truly believe that Ripple Farms wouldn’t be where it is today if it wasn’t for the AoC accelerator,” said Steven.

Green Story Testimonial: Akhil is the co-founder of Green Story, a marketing and analytics platform that helps green companies connect with customers by showcasing their positive environmental and social impact. “The Agents of Change program has helped Green Story grow. In addition to the amazing community and space at CSI, the program has provided technical help, connections, and business coaching and insights that have helped me expand my company,” he said. Peggy Sue Collection Testimonial: Peggy Sue Deaven,, founder of Peggy Sue Collection, is building systems for sustainable fashion. “As a CSI Agent of Change, we’ve seen some enormous successes, including winning Design Forward - Canada’s Sustainable Fashion Award and the Design Exchange’s Designer of the Year Award, launching our Fashion for All line, and keeping 6,325 lbs of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Everything we’ve accomplished this year sets us up well for our five year plan when we will multiply that number by 10,” said Peggy Sue.

SWTCH Testimonial: Carter Li & Laura Bryson of SWTCH are creating an online marketplace for residential electric vehicle (EV) charging. “Early on, we were provided an opportunity to practice our pitching skills and later refine our business model with the support of more seasoned entrepreneurs. For us, the most beneficial elements of the program were access to experienced advisors in relevant industries and relationship-building opportunities with other entrepreneurs facing similar challenges in growing their impact,” said Laura.

Part of the CSI Accelerates Initiative

At CSI, we support entrepreneurs with solutions that drive change through acceleration and incubation. Learn more about our approach here.

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