Pioneering social entrepreneurs’ group with B.C. roots turns 25

Social Venture Institute, which has lent a hand to some 3,000 entrepreneurs, is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Suzanne Siemens is co-founder and CEO of Vancouver-based Aisle, a Social Venture Institute alumnus that makes reusable menstrual products

Social Venture Institute, which has lent a hand to some 3,000 innovators, marks a quarter century of supporting responsible businesses

What do B.C., Alberta and California have in common? No, that isn’t a joke.

The answer is Social Venture Institute (SVI), which describes itself as a network of business leaders who are dedicated to making a positive social and environmental impact. Launched long before socially responsible capitalism went mainstream, the organization celebrates its 25th anniversary this year with a virtual get-together from October 13 to 16.

SVI got its start in 1995, when a group of entrepreneurs gathered at Hollyhock on B.C.’s Cortes Island. Over the years, their meetings expanded to Vancouver, the Bay Area and Banff.

So far, SVI has worked with and supported more than 3,000 innovators. Among its alumni: Aisle, a Vancouver-based maker of reusable menstrual products; Vancouver-headquartered food delivery service; and U.S. outfit Seventh Generation, which specializes in eco-friendly cleaning and personal care supplies.

As it marks its milestone against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, SVI 25 aims to support what it calls a just and green economic recovery. “We have proven that business can be a force for good, and with a quarter century of practice and community behind us, we know we have a role to play in supporting leaders who are navigating this challenging time,” founding producer Joel Solomon said in a statement.

Besides networking, workshops and one-on-one coaching, this year’s event features guest speakers Adnan Durrani, founder and CEO of U.S. natural food brand Saffron Road; and Karina Birch, CEO of Canmore, Alberta­–based Rocky Mountain Soap Co.

For more details on SVI 25, and to apply to attend, click here.