Growing Business for Good in Burnaby

The social purpose in business movement is growing, and the city of Burnaby is quickly becoming a centre for social purpose excellence. In an exciting announcement, the Social Purpose Institute at United Way (SPI) will be partnering with the Burnaby Board of Trade (BBOT) to help grow business for good in Burnaby. This marks the first-ever partnership with a business association to promote social purpose in business and opens the door to an acceleration of the movement and adoption of social purpose practices within Burnaby. Among other things, this partnership will help to establish a Burnaby-based cluster of Social Purpose businesses, leaders and collaborators.

Social purpose is an emerging trend in business – where companies define contributing to societal good as a key motive, and place it at the core of their operations. Social purpose gives companies a competitive advantage, helps them navigate turbulent times, and creates new opportunities for maximizing profits and building shareholder value. Social purpose is good for business and good for society .             

“The BBOT and the SPI is hitting the ground running in 2020,” said Michael McKnight, President and CEO of United Way of the Lower Mainland. “This partnership aims at developing an outreach strategy to involve more Burnaby-based businesses in the work of SPI, including leadership sessions, workshops, and the possibility of a “Social Purpose Innovators” cohort exclusive to Burnaby businesses. This is just the beginning of an amazing journey in purpose. We are at the leading edge of a movement that is prime to explode with enthusiasm from all corners of the business world.”

A Natural Partnership

The vision of the Burnaby Board of Trade (BBOT) is to be the recognized leader in championing an innovative, sustainable, socially responsible and robust business community in Burnaby.

The goal of the Social Purpose Institute is to grow the social purpose movement across Canada and internationally to help businesses become engines for good – by doing business – and maximizing their positive impact on the communities in which they operate.

Given the strong business and community benefits business can realize from having a social purpose, the Burnaby Board of Trade and the Social Purpose Institute at United Way took hold of a natural partnership to formalize the work.

“We are delighted to be partnering with the Social Purpose Institute,” said Paul Holden, President and CEO of the Burnaby Board of Trade. “Helping Burnaby’s businesses embed social purpose into their business model will be a game changer that will drive social and business innovation, and position Burnaby as the centre of business leadership. I’m excited to see where this takes our community.”

To date, several BBOT members have participated or are currently participating in the Social Purpose Institute’s programs to embed social purpose in their business models, including:

Burnaby businesses represent roughly 25% of the participants currently running through the Social Purpose Innovators and Implementers programs.

“As a proud member of the Burnaby business community, we are very excited to see the BBOT partnering with Social Purpose Institute. The BBOT has played and continues to play an important role in helping local businesses adopt socially and environmentally progressive business practices. This initiative is another way the BBOT can bring businesses together and help them succeed in the long term, building a stronger community in the process. We look forward to supporting this work through our association with both organizations.”

Richard Kouwenhoven, President & COO, Hemlock Printers

At the end of the day, all parties involved hope to grow the “Purpose in Business” movement – placing Burnaby at the centre of an exciting push forward.

“Business leaders in Burnaby have been inspiring early adopters of the social purpose model, demonstrating how partnering with the Social Purpose Institute at United Way can help your business become more resilient, sustainable, and profoundly positive for the communities you serve,” said Mary Ellen Schaafsma, Director of the Social Purpose Institute. “This partnership will showcase Burnaby as an example to other cities and help more local businesses integrate a social purpose into their practices, for the benefit – not only of their business – but of their entire community. We’re excited to see where this partnership will lead us.


About the Social Purpose Institute at United Way

The Social Purpose Institute (SPI) accelerates social purpose in business across Canada, and exists to grow business for good. It does this through education and awareness, collaborations, research and structured environments that help businesses incubate, accelerate and scale social purpose as a way to drive both business growth and the company’s potential for social good. SPI’s business workshops and services help business leaders identify and leverage their company’s core social purpose to create positive change in their industry and community as they create new value for their employees, customers, partners peers, and shareholders.

About the Burnaby Board of Trade

As Burnaby’s local Chamber of Commerce, The Burnaby Board of Trade (BBOT) is Burnaby’s most active business networking, advocacy and economic development organization. Working closely with the municipality, its members, and various community stakeholders, the BBOT supports the growth of business both locally and internationally, and fosters a sustainable business environment through networking, education, advocacy and development. The Burnaby Board of Trade acts as a Catalyst for economic development in Burnaby, a Covener of business, community and political leadership and Champions for the businesses who make Burnaby their home. For more information visit

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