Category Archives: Social Innovation

SVI Hollyhock Alumni Receive Successful You Award

Small Business BC announced the winners of the annual Successful You Awards Contest, awarded to businesses who proved their excellence in six categories over 170 other BC businesses during the course of a rigorous five-month contest.

Winners were shortlisted by votes from the public and then submitted an application explaining to Small Business BC why they deserved to win where they then went on to be judged as to why they should be named BC’s best.

Two of the six winners of the Successful You Awards are previous alumni of Hollyhock’s Social Ventures Institute.

Congratulations goes out to:

Suzanne Siemens & Madeleine Shaw of Lunapads InternationalBest Community Impact
Lunapads International is a women-owned and operated social mission-based business and certified B Corporation. Its goal is to help individuals have healthier, positive experiences of their menstrual cycles, and by extension, their bodies overall.

Thanks to Lunapads customers who have made the switch to Lunapads’ washable cloth menstrual pads, over 1 million disposable pads and tampons are now diverted from landfills monthly. Lunapads also donates washable pads to women in developing nations through our Pads4Girls program.


Annalea Krebs of EthicalDeal – Best Online Marketer
ethicalDeal is a Vancouver-based online promotions company that runs integrated email marketing and social media campaigns for natural and organic brands. Its promotions go viral, with 1 in 4 shoppers sharing the promotion with friends on social media.

ethicalDeal launched two years ago and now has a team of ten and has run over 2,000 promotions that reach over 100,000 eco-minded shoppers. The company received the Better Business Bureau award for Advancing Marketplace Trust and Innovation, and was voted one of the top 25 women-run start-ups to watch by Fast Company.


See a list of all the winners and find out more about Small BC Business awards, here.

Video Branding for your Business


Video is now essential as the most effective way to build your organization’s identity and digital marketing strategy

Build upon your organization’s identity and digital marketing strategy with video content. Learn to create short videos to energize your company press room, promote a special project, or simply to keep current as a business professional.

See how one of Steve’s students’ films boosted the reach and profile of a local circus school/troupe for young people


Steve Rosenberg is an award winning writer/director and founder of Pull Focus film school.

SVI Hollyhock Alumni Featured at TEDx Vancouver

On October 21, 2013, Hollyhock Social Venture Institute participants were some of the many 2,300 brought together for a day of ideas worth spreading for TEDx Vancouver.  The Social Venture Institute community was well-represented, with SVI participants Joel SolomonJohn IzzoMark Brand and John Bromley each taking the stage to deliver the talks of their lives.

If you missed it in person, the videos of their talks have just been released:

A Journey of Mortality, Renewal & Ethical Investment: Joel Solomon at TEDxVancouver

The Impact of an Unconventional Solution: Mark Brand at TEDxVancouver

Disrupting the World of Charity: John Bromley at TEDxVancouver

The Defining Moment for a Generation-In-Waiting: Dr. John Izzo at TEDxVancouver

Our People: Joel Solomon TedX Talk

Hollyhock Board Chair Joel Solomon recently gave this TedX Talk in Vancouver – A Journey of Mortality, Renewal & Ethical Investment. Joel’s life work is in activating money and business into pragmatic models for long term balance of ecology and society. Renewal Partners, Renewal2, RSF Social Finance, Vancity and Tides Canada are important financial change agents where Joel plays key roles.


Hollyhock has given me clarity of life purpose, my wife Dana, and my new kidney, from co-founder Shivon. What will Hollyhock give you?

Joel is a co-convenor of two Leadership Institute Conferences at Hollyhock- 
Social Change Institute, June 5 – 9
Social Venture Institute, September 18 – 22

Our People ~ Amy Robinson

Can environmental sustainability, community engagement and the buy-local movement really increase profits for local businesses and help them compete in the global market? LOCO BC founder and business sustainability consultant, Amy Robinson knows so.

“I could see how this whole sustainability movement focuses on the environmental side, sometimes on the social side, but never on the economic side. The business pillar was missing.”

Hollyhock Scholarship Recipient Amy Robinson is ED and founder of LOCO, a growing alliance of local companies focused on strengthening communities, growing the local economy, and building strong, sustainable businesses. LOCO builds strength in numbers, sharing resources between businesses and creating economies of scale through the network’s business members. The new LOCO health care plan leverages the group to make health care accessible to even the smallest businesses. Amy has 14 years experience working with businesses to embed sustainability into operations. She has worked with organizations ranging from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to big industry, regional governments and the UN. However, she has a passion for small businesses, with their unique challenges and opportunities.

LOCO BC was recently featured in the following Vancouver Observer article  by Janel Johnson.

LOCO BC Empowers Local Businesses to be Environmentally Sustainable, Socially Engaged, and Profitable


Photo by Sara Dent

Can environmental sustainability, community engagement and the buy-local movement really increase profits for local businesses and help them compete in the global market? LOCO BC founder and business and sustainability consultant, Amy Robinson, knows so.

She founded LOCO BC after working for 12 years with big and small businesses on sustainability issues overseas, with the UN, and in Metro Vancouver.  Everywhere she went, she found something was amiss.

Says Robinson, “I could see how this whole sustainability movement focuses on the environmental side, sometimes on the social side, but never on the economic side. The business pillar was missing”

Robinson founded LOCO BC in 2009 to educate consumers, buyers, businesses and government about the importance of local ownership and what’s known as the “multiplier effect.” Local business owners tend to purchase higher level services like marketing and finance in their own communities. They hire local labour whereas big multi-national organizations centralize services.

“When you shop at those big chains,” says Robinson, “that money just leaks out of the community.”

Her years of experience showed her that successful local businesses are the cornerstones to successful communities.

“Even if the Walmarts and the HP’s of the world were as green as they could possibly be, we’re still going to have a big problem, there’s still a fundamental underpinning here that is problematic.”

For Robinson, educating consumers to spend local is key to increasing profitability for small businesses. “When you spend money locally it bounces locally three times, on average. Your money circulates when you shop at local businesses.”

Built on a membership business model, LOCO BC not only raises awareness about the positive impacts of buying local but also connects supports and promotes local businesses.

LOCO BC connects its 85 members to each other as a way to build community.

“We also make purposeful connections when we see them,” says Robinson. LOCO recently connected new member, The HIVE and its 70 members, with local office supplies member Mills Basics so they don’t have to purchase them from a foreign company. LOCO also recently connected Founding members Salt Spring Coffee with Community Partner Recycling Alternative to improve their zero waste program.

LOCO members can also connect with each other on the website’s online member directory or at the monthly social mixers. Robinson says the mixers give members the opportunity to meet each other and create links “organically.”

“Instead of us wagging our finger and saying, ‘you should localize your supply chain,’ they’re just meeting amazing people and they feel like ‘wow we’re part of this really amazing movement.’” Members also offer each other discounts.

LOCO BC supports its members by helping them to increase profits and decrease costs. One way LOCO BC is helping to decrease costs is by working with member Dehoney Financial Group to provide a health care plan for small businesses. Not only is it very expensive for small business owners to provide health care for their employees, large health care insurers sometimes don’t want to bother with them.

To promote its members, LOCO BC profiles each member business on its website and is launching a public awareness video campaign on member, The Tyee’s, online magazine.

Robinson was inspired to form LOCO BC by the North America-wide BALLE movement which envisages a network of self-sufficient communities connected to other self-sufficient communities.

“We wanted to create that culture in business, in consumers and in local government, where you look to what’s in your community first and you support those local businesses, who’re innovating on local levels.”

Says Robinson, “we live in a global economy. Everything you buy is not produced locally but you can support the businesses in your community that are supporting your community soccer team and hiring your kids. The philosophy is: local first.”