The Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation at Wilfrid Laurier University

Wilfrid Laurier University

The Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation at Wilfrid Laurier University course offerings:

The Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation at Wilfrid Laurier University provides training, opportunities, supports and funding to students, staff and faculty in the Laurier community for entrepreneurial activities, with emphasis on initiatives that apply entrepreneurial thinking in the social sphere.

The Start@SIVC is the second Schlegel Centre initiative that extends social entrepreneurship training and resources to participants outside the university community. The Start@SIVC will offer a combination of in-person and online modules at our Waterloo and Brantford campuses that provide targeted support for female and non-traditional learners (individuals with no, or limited, post- secondary experience) ready to start or scale a social enterprise. The program differs from traditional entrepreneurial training by building key business skills while placing equal emphasis on the personal and professional growth of the entrepreneur so that they are best able to capitalize on opportunities and achieve success. Through the Start@SIVC, participants will also have access to the expertise and resources of our Laurier accelerator centre, LaunchPad, and the Kitchener-Waterloo Regional Innovation Centre, Communitech. 

Social Impact Voucher Programming:

  • The 'Start@SIVC' is designed to meet the unique needs of female and non-traditional learner entrepreneurs who are ready to launch or grow a social enterprise. The program is cohort based, while also including independent learning through online modules and one-to-one meetings and support from a matched mentor.
  • The Start@SIVC for the female cohort is designed for female social entrepreneurs who have launched (or are ready-to-launch)  a social venture but would benefit from a supportive environment, empowerment, confidence-building  and a supportive mentor and peer community, alongside targeted instruction and supports to strengthen and scale their venture. This cohort will be based at Laurier’s Waterloo campus.
  • The Start@SIVC at Laurier’s Brantford campus will provide targeted supports for non-traditional learners (individuals with no, or limited, post-secondary experience). These participants are social entrepreneurs who demonstrate the passion, commitment, motivation and coachability to start a social enterprise but do not have traditional post-secondary education in entrepreneurship. These learners may lack access to a professional network and would benefit from facilitated introduction to a network and additional one-to-one The recruitment goal for this cohort is 50 per cent participation from Aboriginal social entrepreneurs.
  • The program includes three, in-person intensive weekend sessions, complemented by six online modules and one-to-one meetings with matched mentors. This model will allow participation from individuals outside the Waterloo and Brantford areas. Start@SIVC staff and mentors will connect with participants via the program’s online discussion board, email and social media throughout the program and will be available for one-to-one  phone calls, emails and in-person discussions to support each program participant as needed.
  • In-Person #1- Starting at the Start - Participants will revisit business models to refine plans based on exercises, reflection and feedback. A key focus of this weekend is also to build the cohort’s sense of community through opportunities for informal discussion (meals, walks and evening social event) and for participants to meet the mentors. Sessions will include:
    • Human centred design (focusing on user needs)
    • Empathy and creativity
    • Prototyping and lean start-up
    • Social Business Canvas/Flourishing Business Canvas
    • Pitch to the group and course advisors/mentors
    • Meet the mentors social event
  • Online webinars/modules (Group A; Desire2Learn platform) to be completed between in-person #1 and #2)
    • Legal and financial models
    • Certification (e.g., B-Corp), alliances and strategic partnerships
    • Knowing your customer and building your customer base
    • One-to-one meeting/discussion  with mentor
  • In person #2 – Prepare for the entrepreneurial rollercoaster and growth. The content of this weekend session will identify personal and professional development needs and obstacles and facilitate peer and mentor dialogue for participants to increase their sense of being empowered and confident to manage the challenges of entrepreneurship. The main content component of this weekend will focus on marketing strategies and leveraging social media. Sessions will include:
    • Review and discussion of online modules
    • Self care and finding your peer community
    • Being female/non-traditional learner in the business world (part 1)
    • Marketing Strategy (including strategies specific to business-to-business  and online marketing)
    • Leveraging social media
  • Online webinars/modules (Group B; Desire2Learn platform) to be completed between in-person #2 and #3
    • Growth strategies and managing organizational change
    • Measuring and monitoring performance, and economic and social impact
    • Sourcing capital (including venture capital, grants, social bonds, business loans, etc)
    • 1-1 meeting/discussion  with mentor
  • In person #3 – Venture Next Steps: In this final weekend, participants will further explore their personal and professional development needs and obstacles and receive small-group and individual support. Also during this weekend, participants will have an opportunity to ‘pitch’ their social venture to an investor panel and attend a social event created to facilitate conversations with investors selected from the Schlegel Centre and LaunchPad network to match the venture interests of participants.
    • Review and discussion of online modules
    • One-to-one meeting with mentor
    • Being female/non-traditional learner in the business world (part 2)
    • Pitch Competition
    • Investor meet-up
  • Post-Program supports will maintain participant connection to the Schlegel Centre, the Laurier community and the mentor network. The Schlegel Centre will support the marketing efforts of participants through social media channels (as appropriate) and facilitate additional leadership development opportunities for participants through on-going engagement with the university.
    • Support for application to Communitech/LaunchPad or other, if desired
    • Promotion of project through social media and publications
    • On-going access to the Schlegel Centre team and network
    • Leadership development through training and opportunities to mentor Laurier students

Course Content:

Activities

Expected Outcome

Duration

Participants register with online platform and complete pre-program questionnaire

Participants formalize engagement with Start@SIVC and begin to engage with Schlegel staff and peers

2 weeks

In-person weekend #1: Starting from the Start

Participants build sense of community with cohort, begin developing relationships with mentors and refine/strengthen business models through exercises, feedback and reflection

2 days

Participants complete Group A online modules

Participants learn key information about financial models, certification, partnerships, knowing their customers and acquire customers;

Participants connect with mentor, peers and the Schlegel Centre team for personal support and encouragement

6 weeks

In-person weekend #2: Preparing for the entrepreneurial rollercoaster and growth

Participants acknowledge and reflect on unique challenges of entrepreneurship as female/non-traditional learner and receive support from peers and mentors; Participants develop/refine marketing strategies for ventures

2 days

Participants complete Group B online modules

Participants learn key information about growth strategies, measuring performance and raising capital;

Participants connect with mentor, peers and the Schlegel Centre team for personal support and encouragement

9 weeks

In-person weekend #2: Venture Next Steps

Increased sense of confidence and empowerment to pursue and succeed in entrepreneurship;

New contacts, customer leads and investor leads through pitch session and meet-ups

2 days

Post-program supports

Participants have final ‘official’ program related one-to-one meeting with mentor to develop action plan for next year;

Participants self-select level of ongoing engagement with mentor, Schlegel Centre and Laurier .Participants apply to further programming (e.g. RIC, CLA), with Schlegel Centre support, as appropriate

8 weeks


If you are interested in receiving the training/services from the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation, please contact:

Carrie Wright, PhD
Research Associate
Social Innovation and Venture Creation
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario
cwright@wlu.ca