Last year, 20 early-stage enterprises joined our first cohort for Agents of Change: Climate Solutions. Over one year they have been supported with business and impact model coaching, impact measurement, peer circles, advisors, workspace, and membership at CSI.
They have made incredible progress: securing investments, growing their revenues, hiring new staff, winning awards, and most importantly, reducing carbon emissions. On Tuesday, February 20th, come meet them at Demo Night. Applications are also now open for a fresh batch of 20 social enterprises to join our one-year accelerator.
We caught up with some of the 2017–18 Agents of Change to find out where they’re at!
Enviromentum mitigates climate change impacts by helping people to adopt environmentally responsible behaviours. Through applied behavioural change science, we empower people and organizations to lead a low carbon cultural transition.
“We demonstrated that 69% of youth in our Climate Conversations™ school program increased in their readiness to adopt climate-conscious behaviours. We trained community leaders in the Social Entrepreneurial Leaders Enabling Climate Transitions (SELECT) program led by the School for Social Entrepreneurs. This year, we’re developing an online, interactive version of Climate Conversations™ to scale the impact of this program and engage greater numbers of youth.”
Farm Fund invests in modern restorative agriculture to improve the lives of farmers, feed the world and reverse climate change.
“Thanks to CSI I have been recognized as a thought leader and participated in more speaking engagements than ever before. Other accomplishments include the growth our farm business “The FarmClub” has experienced. Revenues have doubled and we now work with six times the number of producers to provide conscious eaters in Toronto and Barrie with the best farm products than ever before. 2018 is looking even more exciting as we plan to triple the number of FarmClub members we serve as well as the number of producers we work with to meet the growing demand for local organic farm to fork products. Exciting conversations continue with new Farm Fund partners and potential investors. Many of these connections were made through the vibrant CSI Community. Thanks a million for all your support! We have invested in an exciting new food marketing and distribution solution start up called FreshSpoke. FreshSpoke is reinventing the food supply chain with a marketplace platform that connects local food producers and wholesalers, and simplifying the order, payment and delivery process for buyers and sellers.”
FTA advances fashion sustainability through education, awareness and collaboration. Our Fashion Impacts Challenge introduces youth to the sharing economy with school-wide swaps, and also helps them prevent GHG-producing textile waste.
“We secured $19K in funding from Lush Cosmetics which has enabled us to run a pilot of the Fashion Impacts Challenge in 20 elementary and high schools across the GTA. We had successful applicants from 7 out of 8 of the GTA’s District School Boards, which is also an exciting indication of our reach. We are also collaborating with another Agent of Change, Green Story, who is developing an environmental impact tracking dashboard for the 20 schools to show real-time impacts. This dashboard will show how much textile waste and equivalent CO2 emissions they’ve diverted by avoiding landfill, as well as points from Waste Awareness activities in their schools that will lead to greater waste reduction behaviours over time. We were happy to give them our business! By the end of the school year (June 2018), we hope that the 1200 participating students in our pilot divert 1500kg of textiles, thereby achieving 6000kg of CO2 emissions reduced. By June we also hope to secure funding that will enable us to 3–4x our scope of schools, deliver it in French as well, and to offer it completely free so that there is equitable access to this inspiring and creative sustainable lifestyle skill.”
Junction Geo is a pilot project showcasing a new approach to bringing geoexchange heating and cooling to homes in older urban areas.
“Our biggest gains are the synergies arsing from our collaborations, which resulted in a nice evolution of the project and a vision of a (scalable and replicable) community thermal network that would tap into various sources of energy, including geothermal and currently wasted heat. Junction Geo has partnered with our fellow agent Groundswell Energy to produce the pre-feasibility study for a chosen pilot area. We have a commitment of the City to provide the data for this study. We are working with TRCA on initiation of a Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan (SNAP) which will include a community energy plan. For 2018 our big goals are to formalize our partnerships and to secure funding for the planning and feasibility study phase of the project, including community engagement.”
Green Story is a marketing and analytics platform that helps green companies connect with customers by showcasing their positive environmental and social impact.
“We got our first international clients in US, Nigeria (with more coming in India and elsewhere). We proved our platform on the crowdfunding scene. One of our clients got a Kickstarter done for $60,000, and another reached their $9,000 goal by using our platform and metrics. We were awarded the SOCAP Entrepreneurship Scholarship and were finalists in the OCE Social Innovation Pitch competition. We were awarded the SEDF grant and the OCE Smart Start Seed Fund grant. We ran our first joint workshop with fellow agent, Random Acts of Green!
Another great collaboration was our speech at the Ethical Brands Directory launch event in London with the Ethical Brands Directory team and a similar presentation at Queens University courtesy of SWITCH Kingston. In 2018, we’re looking to grow even more! We’re expanding to international markets, growing our team and looking to work with large multi-nationals to truly make an impact.”
Jessica Machado & Sarah Brigel
Microbe Hub aims to reduce a community’s carbon footprint by using composting as a method of diverting organic waste and as a platform for science literacy programming.
“Getting into the CSI Agents of Change Program helped us create curriculum and workshops for school programming. In 2018, we plan to pilot Microbe Hub Makerspace Compost Kits in 5 schools/ classrooms.”
The Organic Council of Ontario is the voice for organics in Ontario. We represent organic farmers and businesses and help them to grow Ontario organics from field to plate.
“We partnered with MPP Peter Tabuns (NDP) and MPP Sylvia Jones (PC) to introduce the Organic Products Act, a private members bill that gives the provincial government the power to regulate the word organic within the province. We also launched the #actONorganic campaign to support the bill. As a result of this work, the bill passed second reading and the government of Ontario has just finished consulting with the sector. We are looking forward to a regulation being implemented in 2018 and continuing to push for supports for small-scale farmers to certify. We hired CSI members JRC9 to build an exciting new Ontario Organic Business-to-Business Directory and our upcoming Grow Ontario Organic microsite. The directory will help more Ontario eaters and buyers purchase local organic products and displace imports. The directory will also help us track important sector data. The Grow Ontario Organic microsite will allow us to share our plans to grow the Ontario Organic sector to 5% in 5 years (5% of Ontario acreage). We have big plans for 2018: to get Bill 153 passed; consult on and Recommend small-scale certification supports; launch the Ontario Organic Directory; expand our membership to encompass all certified organic operators; and begin Implementation of our 5% in 5 Years Grow Ontario Organic Strategy Plan.”
Peggy Sue Collection Inc. is a clothing company founded upon the beliefs of revitalizing the North American fiberscape with a transparent and traceable Supply Chain of Farmers, Mills and Makers.
“Some of our big wins for 2017 were Toronto Womens Runway Show, Vancouver Eco FashionWk Show, FTA Design Forward’s Most Sustainable Canadian Designer, Testex sponsored trip: Shanghai/Tokyo, InterTextile Shanghai Feature, DX Emerging Designer Overall Winner (and of course being a CSI Agent of Change). Fashion Takes Action Sponsored a Competition Design Forward of which we were the Winning Competitor for Most Sustainable Canadian Designer. This year, we’re going for the CAFA’s (Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards)! Fingers crossed! We applied for categories: Emerging Designer in Fashion, Accessories, Innovation and Impact Award. We are rolling out our “Better Basics”, aiming for a 100K in revenue from our everyday functional apparel that supports Organic, Bio-Dynamic, Bio-Diverse, Hyper Local Farming, and Carbon Reducing Textile Upcycling. We are hoping to become a LeviStrauss Fellow for the upcoming May 2018 Class. We are aiming to be in 50 new stores in North American by end of 2018 and to offer farm tours to our community of our local farmers that we work with! And our dream goal is Downtown Toronto Studio Space and Store Combination for an immersive apparel experience!”
Random Acts of Green™ is a social enterprise that offers social media advertising services. We advertise for our clients utilizing our engaging and empowering brand to showcase environmental initiatives.
“In 2017, our Green Acts Program solidified, we acquired more sponsors for Random Acts of Green, and secured a social investor. We’ve had some great partnerships: The Peterborough Petes, Peterborough Mitsubishi, Canada 150 Tree Give-Away, and Green Marketing Workshop with Green Story. This year we are going to frow our Green Acts Program, grow our consulting services, and continue to grow our audience and fan-base.”
Ripple is a social enterprise working to combat food insecurity throughout Canada. Focusing on vertical farming techniques, Ripple operates out of Canada’s first Urban Farming Unit at the Evergreen Brickworks.
“2017 saw us get a $2M Federally Backed Loan, expanded our team to 5 people, secure two grants and an Innovation award all totalling around $70k. We were revenue positive in year one all thanks go being nominated as an Agent of Change! We had great collaborations this year with Seneca College & HELIX, Farm Credit Canada, OceanWise, Trent University, and others. In 2018, we’re moving into our large scale farm and growing A LOT of good food for good people.”
ShiftRide is a peer-to-peer car sharing platform, allowing people to rent cars from car owners nearby.
“ShiftRide got to launch in the Kitchener/Waterloo region and surpassed our first 250 trips provided for members around the city. We collaborated with a local car dealership in Waterloo for our pilot, to list the first few cars on the platform, allowing us to get initial traction. In 2018, we’re expanding across the Kitchener/Waterloo region and launching in cities across Ontario.”
Carter Li & Laura Bryson
SWTCH is an online marketplace for residential electric vehicle (EV) charging. By enabling residential EV charging, SWTCH aims to improve EV charging accessibility and promote the mainstream adoption of EVs.
“SWTCH’s big wins this year include being featured in the Globe & Mail, receiving the Lieutenant Governor’s Visionaries Prize in scientific and technological innovation, and being accepted into a six-month accelerator based in Waterloo that promotes women in leadership roles at tech firms. In terms of product development, we commercialized our technology and established strategic partnerships to drive SWTCH’s long-term growth. We have been collaborating closely with members of the EV Society of Ontario and Waterloo Region Electric Vehicle Association to address barriers to electric vehicle (EV) ownership, including right and access to EV charging in multi-tenant residential settings. In 2018, we plan to scale our electric vehicle (EV) charging management solution across settings that are critical EV ownership, including multi-tenant residential, workplace, and public destinations.”