Celebrating, connecting & cultivating social enterprise

November 16-17, 2021

Annual Conference
Speakers & Exhibitors

Our Second Annual Celebration!

Step Up 2021 is bringing you a must-attend virtual experience designed for changemakers and social impact leaders. Join us for a memorable journey of learning and celebration. We have brought together two great days of inspiration and insight, storytelling from experienced social impact leaders and valuable advice from subject matter experts.

What to expect

  • Fresh insight from experienced social entrepreneurs and subject matter experts
  • Reflection on key sector issues
  • Storytelling and inspiration
  • Exhibition space where you can connect with our speakers, key partners and other attendees
  • New connections and 1-on-1 conversations
  • 100% virtual programming
  • Access to re-watch recorded sessions

Key Themes

  • Envisioning the future of social enterprise in Canada
  • Designing sustainable strategies to scale operations and social impact
  • Advocating for inclusive community action and ownership
  • Accessing fundraising and impact investment for operating sustainability

Meet our Speakers & Panelists

Kayla Isabelle

Chief Executive Officer
Startup Canada

Aidan Mills

Chief Executive Officer
Northstar Clean Technologies Inc.

Hailey Hechtman

Executive Director
Causeway Work Centre

Natasha Smith

Partner, Social Impact Group
Miller Thomson LLP

Elizabeth O’Brien

Librarian & Researcher
University of Toronto Scarborough

Julianna Van Adrichem

Marketing Strategist

Rachel Kelly

Make Lemonade Co. Ltd.

Chris-Beth Cowie

Empowered 4X

Christine Lieu

Marketing Expert
CL Designs

Lisa Kember

Lead Membership & Advisory

Ryan O’Neil Knight

Detailing Knights

Rama Walid

Program Manager
Innovation Guelph

Christopher Coghlan

Circular Food Economy Innovation Hub

Zahra Qureshi

Executive Director
Social Venture Circuit


Victor Beausoleil

Executive Director

The Sessions

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Facilitated by Zahra Qureshi, Founder of Social Venture Circuit

Kayla Isabelle is the Chief Executive Officer at Startup Canada, the gateway to Canada’s entrepreneurial ecosystem that points entrepreneurs in the right direction, eliminates barriers, and champions their needs to private and public sector partners. Startup Canada’s mission is to connect Canada’s entrepreneurs with the tools, community, and support they need to start and build their businesses. Kayla has dedicated her career to supporting entrepreneurs, both in Canada and internationally. As an award-winning strategic communications consultant and change management facilitator, Kayla is passionate about mentorship and leveraging the power of storytelling in the entrepreneurial community.

Social enterprise and social finance are two related, but distinct concepts.  While both ultimately exist to aid in the fulfilment of social purposes, the former focuses on the activities engaged in to provide a public benefit, while the latter is defined by the tools used to harness capital for the purpose of creating a social/environmental impact.  Although social enterprise structures have existed for some time, new legislation and increasing competition for funding has caused organizations to consider integrating social enterprises into their revenue generation toolbox.  Further, the increasing awareness and availability of social financing is enabling organizations to kick-start and scale their social/environmental goals.  This session will review the various corporate structures available for operating a social enterprise and how organizations may engage in social finance to create positive social impact.

Natasha Smith is a partner in Miller Thomson’s Social Impact Group, with a practice dedicated to providing practical legal advice to charities and non-profits, exclusively. Her practice focuses on helping her clients to determine the best structure for their organization and to navigate the complex regulatory environment in which they operate. Specifically, she provides tailored advice on issues including incorporation and charitable registration, operating in foreign jurisdictions, structuring complex gift agreements, and general compliance under legislation governing the voluntary sector.  Natasha has experience structuring merger and asset-transfer transactions between non-share capital corporations, advising on social enterprise and social finance ventures, and facilitating corporate re-organizations.

Chris-Beth Cowie will lead a conversation with Hailey Hechtman, Executive Director at Causeway Work Centre and Ryan O’Neil Knight, CEO at Detailing Knights and Executive Director at Afro Caribbean Business Network Canada (ACBN). Together, these leaders will explore how social enterprise models can be created to improve economic welfare and reduce inequalities through unique employment programs, benefits and learning programs. Come and learn from their journeys what it takes to start and manage employment social enterprises. They will share how key human resources and community building augmented their impact and helped the vision flourish.

Causeway Work Centre is a not-for-profit agency that empowers and supports people in overcoming disabilities and other challenges to help them find rewarding work and live more independently. They do this through an integrated network of innovative training and employment programs, one-on-one support, cross-sector partnerships and by creating socially minded businesses.

Detailing Knights is a social enterprise providing mobile auto detailing and car cleaning services across North America and soon the world. Their cleaning professionals come to your location and use gentle, environmentally friendly cleaning products.

Take a break or stay and chat. The conference space will be available for you to interact with other attendees

Panel moderator: Christine Lieu is the expert behind CL Designs and the Brand Party Podcast. She’s a graphic designer who’s traded in climbing the corporate ladder for climbing mountains around the world. Christine helps purpose-driven businesses create cohesive branding, web design, and social content to drive your impact and sales. As featured in Top 10 Canada Design, the Brand Party Podcast delivers fun, honest, to-the-point advice that you can implement RIGHT AWAY in your entrepreneurial journey.

Panel guests:

Maria Locker is an advocate and champion for the advancement of women and female entrepreneurs across North America, and is sought as a speaker, contributor, and expert surrounding topics including economic empowerment, gender equality, lifestyle and business trends, and products that women love. As Founder and CEO of RevolutionHERTM and its sister non-profit organization The Momentum Foundation, Maria and her team have welcomed over 30,000 members and subscribers, presented over 800 events, and given back over $200,000 in funding and business mentorship to women through their annual awards programming. RevolutionHERTM is dedicated to bringing women together worldwide with impactful events and a community of like-minded peers, providing support and inspiration to help women unleash their potential and live their lives to the fullest.

Rachel Kelly is a small business owner, community builder, rides a motorcycle and even climbed to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro once upon a time. But what makes Rachel Kelly a true master of her craft, is her commitment to supporting new entrepreneurs get sh*t done in a hustle less, dream big, grow more kinda way. Make Lemonade is Rachel’s business baby. Opening up a brick and mortar coworking office in downtown Toronto at age 26 is what put her on the map, but ask her about her beer yoga business and she’ll have stories for days. ‘Pivot Queen’ is Rachel’s unofficial nickname as she successfully took her “in real life” community and brought it online with the Get Sh*t Done Club: a business community supporting new business owners turn their WTF’s into OMG’s.

As organizations and businesses in the impact sphere, you are competing for your audiences’ time, money, and participation.  Meanwhile, you know that change comes from the wider public taking action and changing behaviours, and that change was needed yesterday. In this workshop, you will learn strategies for your social enterprise to make a stronger connection with your audiences and reach your fundraising, sales and participation goals with their support. Communicate a relevant and consistent message to share your organization’s goals and values. We will also define and explore concerns for greenwashing and social washing and how to avoid these with commitment, consistency and transparency.

Julianna Van Adrichem of Promosaurus has been working in promotions and communications in the environmental sector for 17 years, creating change by increasing residential solar installations, increasing recycling rates, increasing the consumption of organic produce, and more. 

Building a social enterprise can be a challenging journey to address social or environmental issues in meaningful ways while maintaining a financially healthy and positively remunerative organization. The EDGE community in Peel/Halton region has become a haven for founders interested in accelerating the growth of their enterprise to maximize their impact and establish operational sustainability. This session will explore how the right community can help the social entrepreneur on the path to scaling impact.

The panel will be moderated by Lisa Kember. A serial entrepreneur with experience building companies in four very different sectors, Lisa Kember consults with entrepreneurial companies and is building a social enterprise herself too. At EDGE, her role is in leading the mentorship and advisory services, including in the RISE program for growth-focused entrepreneurs. She is passionate about helping ventures drive revenue growth and fiscally sustainable operations. 

The panel will feature Mark Rodford, Social Impact Advisor, Kristel Manes, Venture Growth Coach and Noora Sharrab, co-founder of Sitti Social Enterprise.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

As a professional librarian and emerging social entrepreneur, Elizabeth O’Brien conducted a research study to explore the information needs particular to ventures that seek to create social impact. While there is significant amount of academic literature published on entrepreneurship and even a growing body of research on social enterprises, there is little research to date on the particular information needs of social entrepreneurs. This research project involved a mix methods approach with interviewing social entrepreneurs about where they found information to support their ventures and if they could identify information gaps. The second half of the research involved a self-exploration of the challenges faced by the researcher herself as an emerging social entrepreneur. This session will present the preliminary results of the study and some practical suggestions for social entrepreneurs.

Figuring out your value proposition and then selling social value is tough. In this session, Learning Manager Lisa Lowthers from Common Good Solutions will walk us through how a social enterprise in St. John’s Newfoundland did just that.

Join Innovation Guelph to learn about key aspects of planning a social enterprise and the social innovation needed by Canada’s circular food economy. Gain key insight from their flagship programs supporting social entrepreneurs to address the biggest business challenges, push the boundaries and see your vision through to implementation.

Christopher manages the Circular Food Economy Innovation Hub (CFE iHub), a partnership of organizations involved in Guelph-Wellington’s Our Food Future project which is housed at Innovation Guelph. The CFE iHub offers opportunities for collaboration, networking, business support, and mentorship. These activities support the Our Food Future goal of creating 50 new circular food business and/or collaborations.

Rama Walid, Program Manager at Innovcation Guelph, is an MBA and PMP certified, with +15 years’ experience in Program & Projects Management, Operations, Finance, direct field experience, business development, infrastructure, and Risk Mitigation strategies. Expert in Waterfall, Agile management methods, in process of Scrum master certifying. Strong experience in M&E including data analysis & collection tools. Managed projects up to $100 million and worked in non-profit and government sectors worldwide.

Take a break or stay and chat. The conference space will be available for you to interact with other attendees

Presented by: Victor Beausoleil

At the age of 24 Victor Beausoleil co-founded Redemption Reintegration Services one of the largest youth-led, youth justice agencies in Canada. In 2013 Victor Beausoleil received his first public service appointment by the Premiere of Ontario Kathleen Wynne as a member of the PCYO (Premiere’s Council on Youth Opportunities). Victor has worked diligently in the broader equity seeking communities across Canada for the past nineteen years. As a lecturer Victor Beausoleil has travelled extensively throughout Canada, the United States, UK and Africa for speaking engagements for community organizations, institutions and philanthropic foundations. Victor Beausoleil has been a board member of the Atkinson Charitable Foundation, a member of the grant review committee’s of the Laidlaw Foundation, and the Toronto Community Housing Social Investment Fund. Victor is currently on the board of directors for the Toronto Community Benefits Network, The Board President of CCEDnet – The Canadian Community Economic Development Network, on the loan review committee for the Fair Finance Fund, on the advisory of the Table of Impact Investment Practitioners, on the advisory of New Power Labs/Marigold Capital and on the board of REAC – the Regional Ethno-Advisory Council for Corrections Services Canada. The Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, National Post, Share Newspaper and The Caribbean Camera, have all highlighted Victor Beausoleil’s work in communities across Canada. Victor Beausoleil is currently the CEO of Intuit Consulting and the founder and Executive Director of SETSI – The Social Economy Through Social Inclusion Coalition. Victor has written eleven books and is a Husband and Father of four brilliant children.

Northstar Clean Technologies Inc. is a Vancouver-based clean technology company focused on the recovery and repurposing of single-use asphalt shingles. Northstar has developed a proprietary design process for taking discarded asphalt shingles, otherwise destined for already over-crowded landfills, and extracting the liquid asphalt, aggregate and fiber. Their mission is to be the leading asphalt shingle material recovery provider in North America, extracting 99% of the recovered components from single-use asphalt shingles that would otherwise be sent to a landfill. This clean technology solution is expected to have a significant impact on the environment by reducing landfill usage, reducing the CO2 impact of liquid asphalt, fiber and aggregate production, and contributing to the “circular economy”. On July 13, 2021, Northstar started trading on the TSXV Venture Exchange with ticker ROOF. Aidan Mills, CEO at Northstar, will join us to share the story of this company’s vision and growth.

From 5:00pm to 7:00pm EST

The virtual conference space will be open for networking. Exhibitors with branded booths will have representatives available for the first 40-60 minutes so that you can learn more about the wonderful organizations that are a part of the Canadian social enterprise space.

Stay tuned for more information and the full itinerary of sessions!

2020 Event Testimonials

Meet our Partners & Exhibitors

Connect with this wonderful network of organizations and all conference attendees during one-on-one speed networking time available both days and the special exhibition room hosted on Wednesday, November 17, 2021 from 5pm to 7pm EST.

Special thank you to the
Startup Community Empowerment Fund by:

Become an Exhibitor or Sponsor

Step Up 2021 is a great opportunity for sponsors and exhibitors to engage with social entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, and innovators from all across Canada and even the world!  You can share information about programs with our participants and raise awareness. We are also offering promotions for the conference through partners and their communities. Connect with us to learn more about opportunities.

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