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Small Businesses Key to Social Innovation

The world is constantly changing, and if you don’t adapt, you’ll fall behind. That is equally so for businesses, adjusting their practices and mindsets to become sustainable and ensure social innovation.

But what is social innovation?

“Social Innovation, like many other things, became a phrase that many people may not know what it means and renders itself to many different interpretations. That’s where my interest has gone,” says Tatjana Brkic, an Entrepreneurship Mentor. “My applied research and work in the past have focused on the transformational power of communities and society. Loneliness, anxiety, mental illness, segregation, discrimination, and income disparity, and all these social issues are universal.”

Tatjana works directly with businesses and organizations to evolve for today and the future. Tatjana is also incredibly knowledgeable on the subject as a highly qualified researcher, lecturer and mentor in areas of sustainability, social innovation, international economics and entrepreneurship with more than twenty years of professional experience leading projects in sustainable development, business intelligence, applied research, curriculum development, teaching for university and college students and public speaking.

Some mentions on her resume include a mentor at HEC Paris, Consultant UNEP, Red River Applied Business Research & International Business Faculty, and a participant in TEDx Active. She also helped create Square Metre for Peace, an inspirer and facilitator of a grassroots movement working together for positive peace locally, nationally and internationally.

Through Tatjana’s work, she has tried to answer the questions of who will solve universal issues by working with international organizations, big businesses, and governments. However, Tatjana believes where solutions will come from is the small business community. According to Tatjana, small businesses comprise 50 percent of most economies globally and constantly adapt and evolve because they are most affected by a crisis. A significant hurdle they are facing is a lack of a global network.

“They have the brilliance because they have to adapt,” says Tatjana, “and these people have the transformative power for society.” We have to make a community of small entrepreneurs. These small proprietors are living in their communities and can directly address their community’s needs. If those entities can unite, become a force of their own, they can change our society.

Tatjana has this advice for entrepreneurs: dream about your life and what you would like to do when you wake up. Whether through art, manufacturing, public relations, community involvement, find a job that can provide you with that opportunity, transform the job you already have, or start a business that would allow you to do that. She recognizes that there are systemic hurdles for newcomers and immigrants to Canada that can make creating these changes drastically more difficult. Empowering local and other small businesses can create a more welcoming environment where all can succeed. One possible way would be through a collaborative approach.

“We have been working to figure out if there is a way to develop not a whole business but a segment and attach it to an existing one. For example, you can have complementary businesses of someone teaching English outside of Canada, and I’m using virtual reality to do that. Suppose I’m a Chinese immigrant coming to Canada. In that case, I could approach the business with a similar product to teach Canadians Mandarin. I’m not going to create a business but a plaster that could be attached to yours. We’ll have common marketing, human resources, and accounting processes, and I can put the skill set I have to good use.”

The development of this concept has been slow going. Unfortunately, it has been challenging to secure funding, but the idea is promising.

“I would encourage young immigrants to attach themselves to someone who understands Canada and bring their knowledge to compliment.”


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural.

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