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Locals Pitch for Prizes and Social Change

On Thursday, November 21st, 2013 at the Rotary Centre of the Arts the non-profit society Okanagan Changemakers will present ChangeUp.

ChangeUp gives socially minded leaders the chance to pitch their great ideas to make positive social change and their vision to creative a stronger, healthier and more vibrant region. Up for grabs is over $20,000 in prize money and services in kind to help the winners achieve their social goals. The audience votes for the most inspiring and sustainable idea in four categories: For-Profit, Non-Profit, Established Registered Charity or Youth Led Initiative.

An independent council of leading changemaking business leaders ranked applicants based on 3 key components. Social impact, sustainability and innovation. Applicants had to fit within any of the four categories and of course, their business idea had to embrace either a full social enterprise model or be a for-profit company with a focus on a social goal.

“We loosely call it a 'Social Dragon's Den',” said Trina Speiser, one of the team of volunteers who is helping to organize the event. “We don't want to infringe on that trademark but it gives people a general idea of what ChangeUP is. Of course, we are a nurturing and positive society and none of the judges would be considered Kevin O'Leary.” She added with a laugh.

Over 40 different applicants pitched their cause and 12 finalists (3 in each category) were named earlier in the month. The list contains some recognizable names:

GreenStep Solutions Inc

Two Hat Security

ED-ucation Publishing

Olive Us Education Initiative Society

Central Okanagan Food Policy Council

Okanagan Car Share Co-op

Metro UP Financial Asset & Literacy Foundation

Inn From the Cold

John Howard Society of the Central and South Okanagan


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There will also be a social innovation trade show for those who didn't make the final to expose their business idea to the like-minded community in the hours prior to the event.

To prepare the finalists for their big chance, Okanagan Changemakers will provide consultants and business leaders who will be hosting pitch preparation sessions. This mentorship opportunity is essentially a win outside of the prizes as the companies will learn how to craft their social value proposition to the general public in order to succeed.

“Social innovation is a nimble and fast growing emerging market,” said Speiser, “Participating in this event will provides companies with the connectedness to not only the democratic leaders in this movement, but the community of individuals who are collaborating for change.”

Audience tickets to attend ChangeUP are $45 each and can be purchased at: This includes access to the networking hour, a social enterprise showcase, food, live music and lots of inspiring stories. Partial event proceeds will support Okanagan Changemakers (OKCM) launch programming to strengthen nonprofits and invest in collaborative solutions for all sectors to become more socially innovative. OKCM will also provide mentorship for social impact organizations as well as connect and engage community leaders.

British Columbia is one of the first provinces in Canada that has officially appointed a Social Innovation Minister. British Columbia is also leading the charge on recognizing this area of growth through policy and legislative changes in the Community Contribution Company (C3) act.

“Our original committee of seven 100% volunteer contributors have recognized that this emerging market will have potent relevance in years to come. We've banded together to embrace Social Innovation and collaboration for positive change,” enthused Speiser. “We've been hosting monthly meetings that provide content and information applicable to this space and have seen our group grown from about 15 members to over 100. What this tells us is that people have an appetite for REAL earnest and sustainable change for the better. Okanagan Changemakers hopes to be the conduit between that mindset and creating a movement towards measurable impact in our community.”

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