First Winter Impact program sees 16 entrepreneurs hone their businesses

Marie Ang

At MaRS Centre for Impact Investing, we work with entrepreneurs who are not only building amazing companies, but are also trying to fix something they see as inherently wrong in the world. Whether it’s making it easier to ethically source garments from India, developing the future of composting in Ontario or helping charities and non-profits reduce their costs and inefficiencies, all of the ventures we support are driving social progress.

Thanks to the launch of the Ontario Social Innovation Voucher program from the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), we have been able to support 16 additional start-ups with education, advice and the chance to pitch to investors through our first ever Winter Impact program.

From testing their business model through to helping prepare their pitch to investors, we worked with the entrepreneurs during two months of workshops and advisory sessions, helping them challenge their assumptions and hone their value propositions. Partnering each venture with a mentor for additional one-on-one support, we saw some companies pivot and adjust their strategies during the program, while others have started raising capital and are poised to grow their businesses.

The program culminated in a Demo Day pitch event held at the TMX Gallery. Six entrepreneurs presented their businesses to an audience of investors, experts and potential partners. It demonstrated the calibre of social enterprises in Ontario and the growing interest in impact investing.

This was only the first cohort of the new Winter Impact Program. We can’t wait to see what comes next.

Author: Kevin Taylor, Senior Associate