innovation | December 13, 2012

Tonya Surman: "We Need To Celebrate And Cheer On Our Entrepreneurs"

Tonya Surman knows a lot about the power of community to jump-start innovation and foster a culture of creativity. The co-founder of the Centre for Social Innovation was chosen to host a Canada-wide event aimed at compiling a strategy to create a more entrepreneurial economy in the country. At her organization, she provides a shared workspace that houses nearly 350 non-profits and social enterprises—allowing them to save on overhead costs as well as collaborate and learn from each other. As she explains in a Financial Post article, the strongest component to creating a start-up culture is community. “Building a vibrant entrepreneurial culture needs to come from the bottom up, driven by entrepreneurs who have the desire to build their own businesses and to contribute to the creation of an entire entrepreneurial ecosystem,” she says in the article. “We need to celebrate and cheer on our entrepreneurs, and ensure that our media, communities and campuses enable entrepreneurship.”

Over the course of the event, Surman collaborated with citizens from across the nation to hear their thoughts on how to bring Canada into an entrepreneurial economy that can survive and thrive. The majority of respondents said that: "entrepreneurial communities, at a local level, are the heart of inspiring, supporting and accelerating the growth of startups." Recently awarded the Global Ashoka Fellow (which is considered by many people to be a Nobel Prize for social entrepreneurs), Surman advocates for the power inherent in startup culture and the potential it holds for new businesspeople to make positive change in society. The new economy is a collaborative one, she says, and those who will be the most successful in it will be those open to embracing a community-driven culture of innovation.

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