Showcasing Social-Purpose Business: Learning about B Corp in Brampton

A recap of our Social-Purpose Business event, bringing B Corp to Brampton, as told by Joyanne Howell.

The Idea

With the trends in entrepreneurship and business that are happening these days, we thought it was time to get some conversation going in our local communities. While the B Corp movement is gaining some momentum in Canada, we realized that there was still a need for greater awareness. Time to break out the soapbox!  Daniel Francavilla, Ryan O’Neil Knight and myself (Joyanne Howell) were the heads and hearts that came together with a goal of igniting a conversation.

The Event

With a packed house of about 30 or so eager attendees, we kicked off our first ever B Corp Awareness Event in celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014. Our generous venue sponsor was T by Daniel, located in the heart of Downtown Brampton (link map). It turned out to be the perfect venue, not only because of the superb hospitality and cosy atmosphere, but especially because of the delicious, gourmet, Fair Trade tea that was served up. This was provided for our guests, compliments of the house, and was the perfect way for everyone to warm up after a particularly frosty day. For those who didn’t mind the cold, there were also tempting varieties of tropically-flaoured iced tea on offer. Talk about business doing good!

I was thrilled to greet our guests (who started arriving early) and make sure they each received their red “B the change” buttons. The buzz of chatter and networking grew as the room filled and at 7pm it was time to Welcome everyone and announce our first speaker. Ryan O’Neil Knight happens to be the founder of Brampton’s first official Certified B Corp, Detailing Knights, and was first up to share his company’s story. He spoke of how he started his business and gave the audience some insights into the benefits he’s gained since becoming certified. He then fielded questions from the audience and almost got teary-eyed when he spoke of some of his proudest moments as a social entrepreneur.

BCorpBrampton-Scene 2

Next up was our keynote speaker, Lead for B Corp Canada headquarters Aaron Emery (@aaremery). Aaron showcased a few videos highlighting some of the current happenings with the top-level B Corps around the world. He then gave a rich and insightful presentation, fully explaining what the purpose of the B Corp certification is and the process to becoming certified. Many of the attendees were learning about the B Corp movement for the first time, so naturally, there were a few questions that came up after the presentation.

To keep the generosity going, Aaron also brought with him some awesome products made by local B Corps as prizes for our audience to win. Daniel posed a few questions to the audience and whoever was quickest on the draw, with the correct answer, won a prize of their choice! Pretty sweet!

Next, we were joined by the founders of LAB B, a co-working space and community in Brampton. They shared a video that outlined their current struggles and appealed to the audience to support their crowdfunding initiative.  Coworking spaces are an ideal work solution for early-stage entrepreneurs and we would love to see this space flourishing in Brampton. You can support the campaign here.

The Wrap

I wrapped up the event by sharing a few takeaways from my personal experience. As inspiring as the B Corp movement is, I know first hand how daunting it can be to imagine creating a business that can be successfully operating at that level. The 3 keys I shared were:

1. Know Your Why

Getting crystal clear about your purpose for building a business this way is ground zero for this journey.

2. Take the Assessment

Doing the online B Corp Assessment is a really useful way to get a handle on what you need to consider when creating or growing your social purpose business. Check it out here.

3. Find Your Tribe

Surround yourself with others who are also interested in social entrepreneurship and “triple bottom line” practices. There is strength in numbers and a supportive community will go a long way in keeping you motivated on the journey.

Overall, we were thrilled with the turnout and the feedback we received from our attendees. A huge Thank You to everyone who came out. This will certainly not be the last event of its kind and our aim is to keep the conversation going in other parts of Peel Region and beyond.

If you’d like to stay updated on the upcoming events in 2015, click here to get on the list.

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