Panel, Workshop Help Leaders Join Social Purpose Movement

Social Purpose Movement

Moderator Coro Strandberg with SPI panelists Richard Kouwenhoven of Hemlock Printers and Andrea Harris of Vancity discuss the benefits of social purpose at CapU panel discussion.

Every business owner wants their company to become a pillar of the community it serves.  

To learn how, more execs are turning to the Social Purpose Institute at United Way.  

A social purpose business helps address a complex societal issue as a core component of its business model. A social purpose company is an engine for good, generating social benefits alongside greater profits, loyalty and long-term viability. 

On May 21 a crowd of local business leaders gathered at Capilano University, to learn how the social purpose movement is transforming business for the better.  

City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan opened the discussion. She described how the most successful businesses on the North Shore are truly integrated with the local community.  

“Businesses are an integral part of any community,” says Mayor Buchanan.  

“They have the potential to transform communities and society for the better. The possibilities for generating social change are endless. Social purpose is an excellent way for North Shore businesses to unlock the positive, meaningful impact on our community and show local love. ”  

Social Purpose Movement

From right to left: North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan with SPI Director, Mary Ellen Schaafsma and Event Moderator Coro Strandberg.

 The panel that followed featured Andrea Harris, Director of Member and Community Insights at Vancity and Interim Executive Director at the BC Co-operative Association, and Richard Kouwenhoven, President of Hemlock Printers Ltd. 

Vancity has built a strong local reputation as a purpose-driven financial co-operative. Burnaby’s 2018 Business of the Year and a local leader in sustainability, Hemlock Printers has participated in the Social Purpose Institute’s Innovators Program. The series offers professional social-purpose training and coaching in a focused, small-group setting.  

“The experience has been very positive for our company,” says Richard. “We’ve always been a values-driven business. It’s really combining that ethic, those values, with some of the bigger sustainability and societal issues. We’re merging these together into a cohesive vision. 

Social Purpose Movement

Richard also credits the closely-knit cohort as a key motivator for him and his team.  

“Setting goals together and getting feedback from other companies was really a good setting for us. It helped us look at our business from an outside perspective.”  


Ready to take the next step with your social purpose movement? 

Spots are limited in our next Social Purpose Innovators Program. 
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Guests at the panel also heard from Lisa Dooling, Director, Community and Stakeholder Engagement at Neptune Bulk Terminals. In addition to running a generous annual fundraising campaign for United Way, Neptune Terminals has invested in a unique United Way community project to reduce vulnerability and isolation in Lower Lonsdale 

“We take great pride in being able to contribute economically and socially to the community, as well as operating responsibly and protecting the local environment,” says Lisa. “Being a good neighbour is one of our values, and we live by it in the way we operate and the decisions we make every day.” 

During a hands-on workshop immediately following the panel, participants learned more about what it means to be a social purpose business, the business case for having a social purpose , and the tools and resources that can help you start defining a purpose for their companies.  

Learning about the social purpose movement helps position emerging local leaders at the forefront of the fields. Workshops like this are the best way for business leaders to get started on their social purpose journey.  


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Our thanks to Capilano University and Neptune Bulk Terminals for helping making this event possible.  

From the panel discussion to the hands-on workshop, the takeaways were clear: Social purpose is here to stay – on the North Shore, across B.C., and around the world.  


To learn more about our next Social Purpose Innovators Program, or to find out about other upcoming workshops, take the first step and get in touch

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