The story of Tyze Personal Networks offers lessons for aspiring social entrepreneurs, says Tyze president and CEO Vickie Cammack.
Founding Tyze, a certified B-corporation two years ago, Cammack will be sharing her experience of developing a social purpose business during the Social Innovation and Finance study tour, which kicks off Monday, Jan. 17 in Vancouver.
The three-day tour organized by Social Innovation Generation (SiG), PLAN Institute, Ashoka and Causeway, will bring together leaders and other stakeholders in social innovation and social finance to participate in roundtable discussions, policy agenda development and promote collaboration and leadership in multiple sectors.
The event will also feature an open house at Simon Fraser University’s Segal School of Business aimed at attracting students who will be the next generation of social entrepreneur leaders.
Cammack, who will be speaking at both the study tour and open house, says Tyze was founded on a principle common to many social businesses — people solving their own problems and then finding a vehicle and resources to distribute and scale the innovation.
“The beauty of social innovation and social finance is it really brings everybody’s assets to the table. Where many of our initiatives and attempts in the past have left out the people at the centre of the solutions,” says Cammack.
Tyze builds on research from the PLAN Institute, which Cammack co-founded, that highlighted the power of personal networks to help people face life challenges.
The Vancouver-based company offers secure online social networks for people to “connect, collaborate and care.” The service strengthens relationships and addresses isolation, according to Cammack.
“We have people using Tyze who are facing a variety of life challenges, that could be a chronic illness, a mother bedridden during pregnancy, someone with HIV/Aids, a person with a disability … these are all examples of our users today,” says Cammack, adding people from around the world are using Tyze, and the company is working with partners in three countries.
“So we’ve taken this knowledge cultivated by individuals facing a particular challenge, and we are now spreading it out there much further and wider using business tools.”
Cammack says she’s experienced challenges operating in “this space between social and profit,” but has been able to access a number of revenue streams including philanthropic dollars for Tyze’s pilot, paying customers and investors who see the company’s social mission “as important as becoming profitable and sustainable.”
Cammack does credit B.C. for being a hub for social innovation and finance.
“Would I have been able to do this elsewhere I don’t know,” says Cammack. “In British Columbia we really have something going and I would add that the tour is coming here to look at what’s going on. This is a national tour that is coming to B.C. because there are so many good examples of social innovation and finance happening.”
When speaking at the tour, Cammack says she hopes people walk away with “a real sense of excitement about the possibilities for social innovation and social finance.
“We have this vast canvas in front of us that we can paint in vibrant colours that stem from solutions that people have generated themselves and involve multiple sectors in helping us grow a better world,” says Cammack.
To learn more about the Social and Innovation Tour, click here.
To learn more about Tyze, click here.
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