Last Wednesday I went to an Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Development Drinks meeting where the topic was Microfinancing in Canada.  The speaker was Ray Folkins, a management consultant by trade (MM, CA, CMC), and an avid social entrepreneur.  He is currently the co-president of P4 Bottomline (where the P4 stands for People, Planet, Peace, and Prosperity).

P4 is a  non-for profit organization  comprised of a team with strong management and entrepreneurial backgrounds, that provides assistance to start-up social purpose organizations or helps existing social purpose organizations grow in scale.  It’s basically start-up consulting specifically for social entrepreneurs.

It’s exactly what OCRI EC tries to do through it’s many programs; to guide, mentor, and support entrepreneurs  but P4 is specifically  focused on social entrepreneurship.  This impressed me for many reasons.  First of all “social entrepreneurship” in today’s age is largely thought of as an oxymoron.  One rarely thinks entrepreneur when they are speaking of development work.  But for all intensive purposes, an entrepreneur is an entrepreneur whether it is for a social and/or non-for profit purpose, or whether it is a more classical money oriented bottom line start-up.

I for on am intrigued. My friend and I have been going around in circles for the last little while trying to identify a good start-up opportunity.  At the same time, we’ve been identifying various volunteer and developmental work to become involved in.  But yesterday, hearing Ray Folkins speak,  it clicked that those two objectives could be linked.   Of course keeping a start-up a float when you are non-for profit could be a larger challenge, but if others have done it, and there are support services available to show you how to combine the two, then why not?

Other random interesting things noted at Ray’s talk yesterday:

  • Most people don’t realize that microfinancing occurs in Canada, but it is required, and programs like CYBF, are exactly that.  A loan program for people who are unloanable by banks.
  • Woman are the most likely to repay loans – this is true in microfinancing for both developed and developing nations.  (I just thought I’d put that in :0)  ).
  • Canadian charity laws are archaic and must be revamped to support and encourage growth
  • Recommended Author:  David Korten (When Corporations Rule the World, and “Agenda for a New Economy: from Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth)
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