Young Women in Business creates professional shifts through Project GIVE

Troubled by businesses making a lack of social good in their communities aspiring leaders Katie Peardon and Stephanie Wong, of the YWiB SFU, had an idea.

Taking matters into their own hands, as many leaders do, they devised a plan of action and created a program for female students at SFU to gain a stronger understanding of social enterprising. Project GIVE (Generating Innovative Visions of Entrepreneurship) was created to inspire young women to shift their thinking of the future through education and experiential learning.

“The program marries a tri-learning structure, mentorship, and application to give the participants a crash course in social entrepreneurship. More important than the practical learning of the program, what I hope it does is instill in students the value of thinking about the impact of their actions on the greater communities around them, and open their eyes to the power of community and teamwork in creating a positive impact on the world, says Wong

“In the wise words of Margaret Mead "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

Katie and Stephanie’s pilot inspired young women from various educational backgrounds to take part.

They built a strong infrastructure of educators, mentors, and community partners to make it happen. A daunting task for many but not for these two. Peardon, 22, and Wong, 21, pulled it off with tremendous accord and impact on everyone involved.

Peardon stated, “It didn't take long before our initial few contacts connected us with another wave of fantastic change-makers and another, and so our support network for the program was created. We could not have asked for a more welcoming, passionate, and encouraging group of supporters, and we are so grateful for the amazing group of professionals that we had the opportunity to work with throughout the program. Without them, Project Give could not have been the success that it was.”

Individual business leaders and educators such as David Le Page, Enterprising Non Profits, Jay Carvalho of Canadian Social Entrepreneurship Foundation (CSEF), Val Litwin, Bravo Lima Oscar, Shawn Smith and Kathryn Graham, Global Change Agents took part in mentoring and supporting the young women as they themselves created socially driven projects

While Le Page shared his expertise on the social enterprising concept, Carvalho shared his knowledge and enthusiasm for business plans in a workshop.

CSEF provided the winner with a $2000 award to assist in immediate development of the winners project. Awarded were Art Truth by Youth, a new program for youth in Abbotsford to develop a film project that is teaming up with Shaw Cable.

“A brand new generation of women leaders/professionals understand the power of social enterprises and social entrepreneurship.  Mentorship, Networks, Funding and their community are now more accessible to them which will hopefully guide them towards developing an infrastructure that will help them foster all their immediate and future social entrepreneurial endeavors.  Project Give is a stepping stone, a launch pad for their future success within the social and business community of BC. , says Carvalho.

Three women who took part in the pilot project (Lucia, Manpreet, and Kiran) with whom I mentored were amazed at how it shifted their perspective on business and their future contributions to this world.

(Left to Right: Kiran Dhinsa, Lucia Pecnikova, and myself)

“It really made me think about what I was doing with my education and the direction I want to take. I’ve actually changed my career path because of it. I’m going to focus more on social minded companies versus just large corporations.” Kiran Dhinsa.

The experiential learning experiences for mentors and participants was inspiring.

“We hope to expand the program, perhaps both by cohort size and by geographic region. We are currently in the process of mapping our our strategic plan for the program based on our learnings from this year, but we are happy to say that we feel that the impact we have made in our first year is only a glimpse of what the future has in store for Project GIVE”, says Peardon and Wong.

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