AGENTS OF CHANGE: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a call for action by all countries to promote human flourishing while protecting the planet.

The goals are interconnected. Ending poverty goes hand in hand with addressing social and environmental challenges, from gender equality to the climate crisis.

CSI’s Agents of Change: Sustainable Development Goals taught 100 youth ages 18-30 how to use the tools and tactics of social entrepreneurship to work towards the achievement of the SDGs.

Youth from across Canada participated in an eight-week, impact-driven course taught live online as they took their first steps in creating their very own climate and social ventures.

Agents of Change: Sustainable Development Goals was a national program by the Centre for Social Innovation made possible by the Government of Canada. The Eastern Canada cohort launched March 2020 and concluded April 2020. The Western Canada cohort launched June 2020 and concluded July 2020.

Impact

92
youth participated
89%
developed new social enterprise ideas
87%
reported deepening their understanding of the SDGs

How we supported their success

We supported these aspiring social entrepreneurs with:

A graphic icon of a desk with a computer monitor, lamp, and drawer unit.

ENTREPRENEURIAL TRAINING

Eight three-hour sessions of digital training and curriculum.

A graphic icon of two people connected by a wavy line.

COACHING

Group coaching sessions with expert coaches.

A graphic icon of a clipboard showing a checklist.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT TOOLS

Validated and practical tools to propel their work forward.

A graphic icon of four circles connected by lines in the form of a hub and spokes.

PEER-TO-PEER NETWORKING

Connections with a pan-Canadian cohort of changemakers. All the benefits of membership at CSI.

Program Overview

Youth can create meaningful change in the world!

Participants began by identifying the social and/or environmental challenge they wanted to focus on, and worked towards shaping their solution into a sustainable business model. Both cohorts met virtually each week for class time, small group coaching, and their peer accountability groups.

100% of participants reported having acquired new and/or improved entrepreneurial competencies.

Graphic icons representing the UN Sustainable Development Goals: 1. No poverty; 2. Zero hunger; 3. Good health and well-being; 4. Quality education; 5. Gender equality; 6. Clean water and sanitation; 7. Affordable and clean energy; 8. Decent work and economic growth; 9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure; 10. Reduced inequalities; 11. Sustainable cities and communities; 12. Responsible consumption and production; 13. Climate action; 14. Life below water; 15. Life on land; 16. Peace, justice and strong institutions; 17. Partnerships for the Goals.

HERE’S WHAT THE COHORTS LEARNED


Weeks 1–4: Exploring your purpose as a social entrepreneur. Discovering your areas of interest. Mapping opportunities for impact.

We discussed some of the big questions entrepreneurs ask themselves, such as:

  • What are the SDGs and how can social enterprises play their part?
  • I see so many urgent problems to solve. Which should I focus on specifically, and why?
  • There are so many things to do to get started. How do I prioritize?
  • What skills, knowledge, connections, and experience can I leverage to make an impact?
  • How do I move from idea to action?

Weeks 5–8: Discovering stakeholders. Building your business and financial models. Identifying funding options and enterprise impact.

Questions discussed and answered during this phase included:

  • I have developed a clear idea of the impact that I want my enterprise to generate. How do I design my business to reach this impact?
  • How can I generate sustainable revenue (and profit) from my social enterprise?
  • What resources am I going to need to start my enterprise?
  • What funding models and options should I explore?
  • How will I measure its impact and report its contribution towards the SDGs?

By the end of the eight weeks, entrepreneurs reported a deeper understanding of the SDGs and how to create social enterprises that drive progress towards one or a number of the SDGs.

Three young entrepreneurs sit around a table in a cafe, with their laptops and notebooks open, laughing and working together.

Stories

Learning Outcomes

WEEKS 1–4: PROBLEM DISCOVERY, SOLUTIONS MAPPING, AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPACT

 

  • Week 1 – Social Entrepreneurship & the Sustainable Development Goals
  • Week 2 – Personal Discovery: The SDGs & You
  • Week 3 – Exploration Research: Identifying Opportunities
  • Week 4 – Testing Ideas: Challenging Personal Bias

WEEKS 5–8: STAKEHOLDER DISCOVERY, BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL MODELS, SOCIAL ENTERPRISE FUNDING OPTIONS, AND EXPLORING ENTERPRISE IMPACT

 

  • Week 5 – Impact Solutions: Framing your Ideas
  • Week 6 – Theory of Change: Modelling for Systems Change
  • Week 7 – Business Models for Impact
  • Week 8 – Take Action: Planning & Resources for your Next Steps
Hands of many people from a range of ages and skin tones are placed together in the centre of their circle.

ENTREPRENEURIAL COMPETENCIES

Cohort participants learned how to build inclusive, meaningful and impact-driven enterprises by developing the following skills:

  • Critical thinking: the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment
  • Systems thinking: understanding the numerous factors that contribute to a problem you are wanting to solve
  • Decision making: selecting the best course of action that will bring about authentic impact
  • Listening: giving one’s attention in order to learn new things without bias or judgment
  • Storytelling: crafting and telling stories to better understand the impact that you want to generate
  • Business Modelling: how to design an enterprise

Partners & Funders

Agents of Change: Sustainable Development Goals was made possible with the support of our funder and partners.

Government of Canada logo
In 2015, Canada and all other UN Member States committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which set 17 Sustainable Development Goals to eliminate poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity by 2030.
Lean4Flourishing logo
Lean4Flourishing co-creates programs that support entrepreneurs in designing businesses that embed and embody the Sustainable Development Goals.