by Groundswell Social Ventures cohort member, Trixie Ling
In the past few months at Groundswell, we have been challenged to test our assumptions, validate our ideas, deepen our personal growth, and experience the joys and hardships of building social enterprises. We have been inspired by the fundamental paradigm shift of thinking and operating in a capitalist economy to a sharing or collaborative economy. One of the biggest shifts is how we view our “capital” and place value on the vast resources and gifts around us.
In the world of business, gaining financial capital is often seen as priority and has the highest value for a successful venture. But in an interconnected economy and community, our capital extends far beyond money and reaches out to the people, networks, and environment around us. The rich networks and layers of resources around us include social capital, cultural capital, knowledge capital, spiritual capital, place capital, natural capital, and experiential capital. While many of these cannot be quantified, they hold the key to building and maintaining a successful and sustainable venture. In the world of social enterprise, these resources and networks help to create positive systemic changes and build inclusive, vibrant and healthy communities.
In this season of learning about social enterprises, I have developed a deep awareness and gratitude for the gift of social capital, which has supported, encouraged and inspired me as I envision my purpose, goals, and ideas with others in my local and global community. Social capital can be seen as the networks, shared values, and understandings between people living and working together. In a highly individualized society, we need strong networks and links to our neighbourhood, community and city to build cooperation, connections and social innovation.
Through my personal development work at Groundswell, I have discovered the rich and diverse networks that I have built and gained over time through school, work, church, traveling and volunteering in neighbourhoods and communities. In the last few weeks, I have expanded my social capital by connecting with others who have similar passions, shared values and understandings about the powerful links between food, cultures and stories. This humbling, challenging and meaningful process of building networks involves making cold calls, emailing strangers, and going to many coffee meetings. Along the way, I have met inspiring leaders in my community, built strong partnerships in neighbourhoods, and connected with social entrepreneurs across Canada, United States, England, Scotland and Australia. I am very thankful for the leaders, mentors, alumni and current cohort in Groundswell, who are part of my social capital and family in the sharing economy.
As I develop my social venture to support and empower immigrants and refugees to share their diverse cultures, stories and food with others, I hope to help newcomers build up their social capital and develop a stronger sense of belonging, connections, inclusion in communities. While it takes time, trust and commitment to create social capital, the connections are rich, nourishing and long-lasting. As social entrepreneurs, we need supportive networks and relationships to keep us grounded and accountable for our work, and encourage us to continue making a positive impact in our community.