Building Lasting Relationships: SVI Nourishes Social Entrepreneurs

Building Lasting Relationships: SVI Nourishes Social Entrepreneurs

Co-ordinator Heidi Hartman says developing space for participants to be vulnerable is rewarding career

When Social Venture Institute (SVI) co-ordinator Heidi Hartman decided to stand in front of participants and share how she’d recently moved to Vancouver and was looking for friends, she didn’t know how fortunate her appeal would be.

Four years later, from the six women who approached her immediately after her talk, three are among Hartman’s most cherished friends.

Establishing a space for meaningful connection is a driving force behind Hartman’s work planning SVI, a four-day intensive, interactive inquiry into the day-to-day challenges of running a socially-conscious enterprise.

  Heidi Hartman
Photo credit: Jaime Kowal

“I get a lot of joy in creating a space where people feel safe and comfortable, and they can let a bit more of their vulnerable side come out,” says Hartman, adding this is often hidden in the business world.

“Being able to see people interact in a more creative, playful open manner is just really inspiring.”

One of the ways the conference breaks down barriers is by engaging participants in the creation of SVI workshops. Hartman says several months before the conference they’ll review the attendee list and ask registrants if they’d like to present based on their expertise, or perhaps offer their business for the case study session.

“We really believe it’s not a matter of having experts in the room, but actually the expertise and brilliance in the room comes from every person contributing,” says Hartman.

Hartman credits one of this year’s keynote speakers, Sherry Stewart Deutschmann, for reaching participants through a universal entrepreneurship story.

Stewart Deutschmann started LetterLogic, named one the 50 Fastest Privately-Owned Women-Led Companies in North America by Entrepreneur Magazine, from her garage. She set out to tackle an industry, and through the process learned to revamp her work in ways that benefitted the environment and community.

“She was able to show up with a beautiful humility. She came from a place where people were able to relate and connect to her. They could see where she was in her business was actually an attainable space for them,” recalls Hartman. “It was an incredible start to SVI.”

This year, 140 people took part in the SVI retreat at Hollyhock on Cortes Island Sept. 14-18. Since then, Hartman says there have been at least three-to-four informal gatherings among participants. The desire to be together after spending four days as a group is exactly the outcome SVI hopes to achieve, says Hartman, adding she hopes these relationships nourish and sustain those who are making a positive difference in the world through their business.

SVI participants can join its LinkedIn group, and anyone can join SVI's Facebook page.

To learn more about SVI, click here.

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Writer Bio

Camille Jensen's picture
Camille Jensen

Camille Jensen is an employee share ownership consultant with ESOP Builders, Canada’s largest provider of employee share ownership plans (ESOPs) for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Prior to joining ESOP Builders, Camille was a generative journalist and team member at Axiom News. She credits her time at Axiom as fundamental to her understanding that business is one of the best opportunities to make a difference in the world.

Camille is a B.C. Partner for Social Impact and volunteer with Okanagan Changemakers.

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