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Business gets innovative lift at Hollyhock

Where do Peter Robinson (Mountain Equipment Co-Op), Nina Utne (Utne Reader) and Terry McBride (Nettwerk Music Group) reveal their business secrets? At Hollyhock, Canada’s Leading Lifelong Learning Centre, where the annual Social Venture Institute (SVI) is a ticket in high demand, selling out every year.

Joel Solomon, SVI founder, President of Renewal Partners and Board Chair of Hollyhock, says part of the goal of SVI is to bring together both non-profit organizations and progressive entrepreneurs to share their challenges with peers and come away with solutions.

 “The SVI has a social impact – helping to change the world by creating products and services that are solutions for what’s needed for resilience in the future,” says Solomon, “We address how we’re going to convert our current economy to a kinder, gentler, more effective one with a lighter footprint.”

The format is highly interactive and experiential. Participants present their business problems to a panel of experienced business leaders and fellow participants. In return, they receive advice, tools, and resources to strengthen and grow their enterprise in a socially conscious way. Participants state that SVI is one of the best investments they’ve made in growing their social purpose enterprises.

“Presenting a case study at SVI was one of the most challenging and rewarding events in my business career. The feedback was invaluable and had a massive impact on our franchise selection criteria as we grew from 3 to 16 locations. I highly recommend entrepreneurs apply to be a case study - it will change your business,” says Doug Burgoyne, CEO of Frogbox.

As a setting for SVI, Solomon says the history, mission and purpose of Hollyhock naturally lends itself to this enterprise, as one of only a few places around the globe offering whole-person continuing education and life skills to individuals who increasingly understand what a complex world we’re facing.

“Hollyhock serves as a kind of ecumenical lineage,” says Solomon. “It’s very important to continue working on inner skills, relationship skills and leadership skills that enable us to cope with the complexities and needs of today’s world.”

Included at this year’s SVI are Sherry Stewart Deutschmann, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of LetterLogic and Mike Hannigan, President and co-Founder of Give Something Back - Office Supplies.LetterLogic is named one of the 50 Fastest Privately-Owned Women-Led Companies in North America byEntrepreneur MagazineGive Something Back, provides more than 40,000 office products from paper clips to furniture, has offices throughout California, with operations in Oregon and Washington, and plans to expand in 2011, tripling sales in the next five years.

The SVI is part of Hollyhock’s social innovation conference series that also includes: Media That Matters,Social Change Institute, and Web of Change. The SVI runs at Hollyhock’s Cortes Island campus September 14-18, 2011.

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