SVN Conference Celebrates 25 Influential Years
New and seasoned members say 3-day event inspires and motivates their work
Friday April 20, 2011 -- Camille Jensen
STEVENSON, Wash. – The Social Venture Network (SVN) kicked off its 25-year anniversary celebration yesterday at its annual spring conference, recognizing an influential movement that’s using business for social change.
SVN executive director Deb Nelson welcomed the approximately 200 attendees, noting the biggest story to happen in 1987, the inaugural meeting of entrepreneurs, thought leaders and investors that formed SVN, is one most people have never heard.
It was in that first meeting at Gold Lake Ranch in Colorado, founders Wayne Silby and Josh Mailman put forth a new vision for business: to be a positive force for change. Twenty-five years later, there are millions of socially responsible companies and social enterprises all over the world demonstrating that business can care for all of its stakeholders, not just shareholders.
“SVN and its members helped launch that movement, and they helped incubate incredible sister organizations that expanded that movement: Business for Social Responsibility, Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, Net Impact, SVN Europe, America’s Sustainable Business Council, the list goes on and on,” said Nelson, and invited SVN’s earliest members to stand up for recognition.
The three-day event in Stevenson, Washington convenes social entrepreneurs, investors, and change-makers to connect, learn and collaborate with each other on how to build a just and sustainable economy for the next 25 years.
Attendees ranging from first-time participants to seasoned members were praising the event.
“I think it’s incredible that these people have been building this conversation for years,” says Bix Bickson, a first time participant, and director of Institute B, an incubator for start-up businesses that are committed to profitability and social impact in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Leslie Carrere, co-founder of Restore the Earth Foundation, which partners with business to conduct large-scale restoration projects, says she’s only been at the event for several hours, and was moved to tears during one of the sessions.
“So often we are very myopic in our own little world trying to work so hard to make good things happen, and the idea that this organization has this fabulous resource available for all to come and gather and learn from has, only in such a short period of time since I’ve been here, touched and inspired me.”
Gretchen Wilson, founder of Gretchen Wilson Designs, was one of the first women to join SVN 20 years ago. She says the conferences have served her varying needs over the years, from an early-stage entrepreneur needing mentorship, to reinvigorating her soul during trying times, to sharing her learning and experiences with others.
“I’ve only missed one or two conferences out of the whole experience. If I were to miss it, I would feel like something was missing from me,” says Wilson.
— More to Come