Active Citizens Social Enterprise Summit 

Representing WelcomeHomeTO, I was invited to be 1 of 15 youth, who traveled to Ottawa to attend the Active Citizen Social Enterprise Summit (ACSE) held on Parliament Hill.

I had attended the ACSE training in Montreal during February. This weekend demonstrated the powerful position social enterprises hold within the business world, and how youth can pioneer and contribute to these initiatives. The training was created and executed by members of the United Nations in Canada and the British Council in Canada and focused on encouraging initiatives which support The United Nations 2030 Agenda. The 2030 Agenda outlines 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and each nation is expected to take ownership in achieving these objectives. The initial training session enabled participants to develop their ideas to address these SDG’s, whilst following a Social Enterprise business model.

After a busy few weeks preparing material it was time to attend the national summit. We were welcomed by the British High Commissioner, Howard Drake for a cocktail reception at his Ottawa residence. The following day we were hosted at Center Block for the Summit. Primarily, we were required to pitch our ideas to a panel of social enterprise experts, through a one minute video and speech.

I pitched WHTO digital platform which aimed to achieve SDG # 10, reducing inequalities. Our digital platform would be designed to provide an easy to navigate resource center which equips newcomers with the resources, services and events to reach their potential. This platform simultaneously eliminates social and economic disparities between newcomers and their neighbors.

Afterwards, we were given the opportunity to discuss and get feedback from professionals in the social enterprise community and Members of Parliament who champion youth engagement. This experience was one of a kind. After these two days it was evident that Canadians are engaged and want to make a difference. Social enterprises have an incredible potential to resolve issues which prevent inclusion and equality. A great example of this is the Darzee Program which provides a space and training for refugee women to develop their sewing skills. They then sell their products to generate financial profit and socially reinvest in their community by giving refugee women employment opportunity. It is initiatives like this which will empower Canada to achieve the 2030 Agenda and work towards a stronger community.

 

This opportunity challenged me to develop key skills which young professionals need to make a big impact and impression. By simply clicking on a Facebook advertisement I gained a once in the live time experience; networked with youth who are fighting for change and learnt from professionals who made their dreams a reality.

Take a chance, believe in yourself, we all have the potential to be the leaders of tomorrow.

Kitty Shephard is Director of Communications and Outreach for WelcomeHomeTO