Join the conversation:

YorkU’s YEDI incubator highlights the benefits of social enterprise

YorkU’s YEDI incubator highlights the benefits of social enterprise

Posted by PanamericanWorld on August 30, 2016

Just like startups, incubators and accelerators have their share of challenges developing a niche and attracting talent. But the York Entrepreneurship Development Institute (YEDI) based out of York University’s Schulich Executive Education Centre, has found its calling in the form of developing social enterprises.

“We integrate for-profit and not-for-profit companies simultaneously in the same room,” says Maria Konikov, director of operations at YEDI, explaining that the setup offers opportunity for cross-pollination between the sometimes vastly different business models. “The for-profit companies learn how to be more socially minded and the not-for-profits learn how to become more resilient and business minded.”

Dr. Marat Ressin launched YEDI in May 2013 after he was approached by the Business Development Bank of Canada to train some of the companies BDC wanted to invest in. Dr. Ressin felt some of the companies weren’t quite ready for the investment stage, that they still needed some mentoring. So he drew on his experience across both non-profit and for-profit sectors to offer help. Since then, more than 165 startups have moved through one of YEDI’s four programs. Konikov points to a joint project between the Victoria Ballet Academy and a program called We Will Dance, which focuses on teaching people in wheelchairs to dance.

“The two organizations were part of our first cohort . . . they connected in the program and developed a program together (and) have since received a lot of funding from both government and private investors,” says Konikov.

Laser Weld Creation is another success story she says she’s particularly proud of. The company, which uses a very thin laser for precise welding, was a wife-husband team before it joined YEDI in 2013.  

“Since the program, they’ve received a large sum of investments and moved into a factory that they’ve now outgrown,” says Konikov. “They’ve created between 15-20 jobs in two years.”

While not every business working through the incubator has pursued a social enterprise, businesses at a variety of stages have worked through the program and walked away with a full business plan and model surrounding marketing and finances, as well as a better understanding of how to pitch their ventures.

“We’ve had a really positive response from all the participants,” says Konikov. “They always come back to us and tell us how nice it is to have that social side of the things in the room.”

In her mind, YEDI fills a niche in a city that’s home to many incubators catering to all types of businesses. Perhaps more importantly, Konikov believes YEDI picks up on a growing trend.

Link To Full Article: 

Facebook comments



Monthly newsletter featuring articles hand picked by our country managers from the best content across PanamericanWorld.



Monthly newsletter featuring articles hand picked by our country managers from the best content across the Caribbean Region on PanamericanWorld.

PANAMERICANWORLD COUNTRIES