This past June, Boris traveled to Kenya and met with families whose small dairy businesses had become much more profitable through their engagement with LishaBora Hydroponics, one of the ventures in EWB’s incubator. There was ambition, pride, autonomy, opportunity and respect in every minute of my conversation with the entrepreneurs he met. Their potential was already there. We made a humble yet effective, targeted yet scalable, thoughtful and therefore lasting, contribution to unlocking it.
What’s most exciting for us is that LishaBora has the potential to disrupt a system that for now, largely ignores the hundreds of thousands of families in Kenya who produce milk informally, leaving their potential unrealized. All we did was throw our support behind an innovative thinker, who supports other entrepreneurs, who in turn support their community. Yet by constantly striving for excellence in our contribution, we might have been transformative.
In 2015 we focused our attention on reaching excellence in our most effective areas of impact, and we can say with great pride that we succeeded.
This year, we reached a new level of excellence in our incubator services—embracing our mission to deliver the most impact with the resources we have: our people, our flexible seed funding and our community. From clearly defining the incubator services we offer to forming an Investment Committee, we made big strides in refining how we support innovative, early-stage enterprises as they deliver large-scale social impact. With these strong systems in place, we are ready to focus our talent, our time and our money where it will have long-lasting impact for hundreds of thousands of people—like at LishaBora.
In 2015, we also grounded ourselves in why we do what we do: we invest in people who can create a thriving and sustainable world, where everyone’s basic needs are met and where everyone can grow to their full potential. We consolidated the best of our leadership development approach. And we demonstrated our ability to create lasting, positive change by supporting bold entrepreneurs wherever they take action to benefit their community.
EWBers also created remarkable change across Canada in this pivotal year. Our members and partners set the tone for a Canada that will show leadership internationally. We met with tens of thousands of citizens, engaged candidates in 90% of ridings—including 46 Members of Parliament in the new government—to declare their commitment to Canada’s leadership internationally, including Prime Minister Trudeau. This is good for the world, and will translate into impact in communities that need it most in the years to come.
Finally, we have all grown as leaders—and we now have much better understanding of how our community is enabling this growth. We reached a milestone with Systems Change Leadership by rolling out workshops to unlock the leadership potential of our members; we gathered extensive feedback from our alumni about their long-term engagement in EWB; we’re well-positioned to foster leadership wherever we take action, more intentionally, in 2016. It is inspiring to see our commitments as individuals and as a whole—and to know that so many of us are working together to build a world we will be proud to leave to future generations.
Yours very truly,
Shayne Smith, P.Eng.
Chair, Board of Directors
Boris Martin, PhD.