Business Model Innovation for Social Entrepreneurship

How can social organizations thrive in a post-funding society?

A special innovation circle session was held with Maya Roy and the Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto.  Through turbulent economic times, Maya and staff leadership grew a team of committed members and made the organization a successful NGO for helping new families settle into Toronto. With impending budget cuts, they are faced with an immediate need to change their business model from a publicly supported service to a social entrepreneurial model.

York University’s Antony Upward presented the “Strongly Sustainable” Business Model Canvas (an innovation of the BMG canvas) the framework for group ideation and collaborative design. In large and small group sessions, the group explored innovation of business and revenue models, service provision, new relationships and communications channels.  As the first public unveiling of the research and design of the  “strongly sustainable” business model, we gained valuable and practical feedback on the applications of the new approach.

Generating one group’s model based on its “What If” starting point (orange label).

Sharing the group’s model with the whole and Antony collecting and aggregating the unique values of each in a common map.

This was the first public application of the Strongly Sustainable Business Model Canvas – and most of the participants were unfamiliar even with Alex Osterwalder’s original Business Model Canvas. Therefore, even with all having watched Alex’s videos and our handout materials, we found the session required a significant degree of education in the methods. The SSBM Canvas is not a tool that can be applied “out of the box” but requires context setting and some training in the concepts.

May Roy shared her experience with the process in terms of outcomes for Newcomers:

The use of the expanded canvas allowed NEW staff, volunteers and members plan though how the organization will continue to innovate in the next 3 years. We used the DWD session and day long strategy sessions to discuss, argue, debate and sometimes cry over the challenges and opportunities inherent in a time of economic restructuring.