BUILD: Growing Initiatives for Impact & Solidarity

What is the BUILD program?

BUILD is a free six-month program designed by, for, and with input from equity-deserving people—Indigenous folks, Black folks, and folks of colour.

Calling those who are prioritizing the health and well-being of people and the planet through system-shifting work. If you are working toward Better Futures For More Of Us by addressing your communities’ pressing social, environmental, or economic challenges, consider joining BUILD. 

BUILD is a good fit for initiatives that are currently active and looking to refine their model to grow their impact. We focus on strengthening the skills and foundations of people shaping and developing their initiatives (e.g. for-profit, non-profit, co-op, mutual aid, movement building, and collectives).

BUILD is for you if you want to explore topics including how best to communicate your initiative, how to gather ongoing feedback from the people your work serves, how to explore and test key revenue and or partnership opportunities, how to use key tools and frameworks for effective operations and finances and much more.

The program offers structured yet flexible support that will adapt based on what you and your initiative need. We will balance ambitious goals with moving at a kind pace, valuing joy, rest, and process as much as products and outcomes.

Sound interesting? Keep reading for full program details!

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We invite you to apply for this emerging program if your work prioritizes social, economic, and environmental liberation.

This may be right for you if:


  • Are a community-connected person working while racialized (Indigenous folks, Black folks, folks of colour)
  • Are excited to join a program led and populated by a representative team who get what it might be like for you
  • Have a deep understanding and knowledge of an issue your community is facing (e.g. lived experience or studied)
  • Are ready to deepen your commitment to your work in the world (e.g. sustainability shift to this being your primary focus; grow your initiative well enough to pay salaries and sustain people; establish an effective co-op model)
  • Could focus better on your work in shifting or transforming systems with support to relieve your survival burdens (e.g. stipends and support to help meet basic living expenses)

Your work:

  • Is focused on shifting systems toward the wellness of people or the planet or both 
  • Is “active and refining.” You’ve already tested your work with the folks you aim to serve or in the marketplace (e.g. service, product, offering) and are ready to deepen your impact
  • Has a clear working answer to the question “Who is your community” or “Who is your customer”
  • You have feedback from the folks your work serves—that this meets a need
  • You may know what support your initiative needs and are ready to learn how to make it happen

You + this program:

  • You are willing and able to commit 5–8 hours per week to the program from June–November 2023 (includes small-group learning time & independent work)
  • You are excited to connect with experts and professionals for tailored advice and support
  • You want to understand how to access resources (e.g. networks, funding, skills) to sustain or grow your initiative
  • You are excited to work alongside a small group of committed, impact-focused people working on their own part of the puzzle
  • It’s the right time for you to be part of a responsive program that will adapt based on learning how to best support you


Program Details

Applications open: Monday, May 8, 2023, (9:00 AM PST)

Applications close: Monday, May 29, 2023 (9:00 AM PST)

Online Information sessions: Tuesday, May 16, 12:00-1:00pm & Tuesday, May 23, 5:00-6:00pm — sessions on Zoom in Pacific Standard Time

Interviews: June 2–7, 2023

Offers + Confirmations: June 8–13, 2023

Program runs: June 20–November 28, 2023

Program sessions:  Tuesdays, 5:00–8:00 pm (PST): June 20; July 4, 18; Aug 1, 15, 29; Sept 12, 26; Oct 10, 24; Nov 7, 21 (online)

Retreat: July 28, 29, 30, 2023 (in-person) 

Fall Feast Closing Celebration: Nov 28, 2023 (in-person)

Dates: June 20–November 28, 2023

Session Times:
5:00–8:00pm PST, every second Tuesday beginning June 20 (June 20; July 4, 18; Aug 1, 15, 29; Sept 12, 26; Oct 10, 24; Nov 7, 21)

Virtual (with occasional in-person opportunities)

: In-person, July 28–30, 2023 | Location: TBC (Metro Vancouver)
Transportation support is available within the region.

5-8 hours per week (includes group sessions, self-guided time, peer-led opportunities)

No program fees for participants

We provide stipends for participants and reimburse select access expenses (e.g. care costs for dependents) to support participation

In this program, we aim to support you to:

  • Refine how to best communicate about your initiative
  • Gather ongoing feedback from the communities your work serves
  • Create or update an evolving action plan to move your work forward
  • Explore and test key revenue or partnership opportunities, or both
  • Consider your life and community in the context of your initiative
  • Connect deeply with a supportive network
  • Navigate the available resources for your work (funding, networks)
  • Utilize key tools and frameworks for effective strategy, financials, and operations

Program topics may include:

  • Refining Your Community Canvas / Business Model Canvas 
  • Resourcing Your Initiative: Funding Landscape & Opportunities
  • Storytelling, Marketing, & Community Building
  • Personal Leadership & Team Leadership

During scheduled sessions, we will: 

  • Create reciprocal relationships and learn from each other (e.g. case studies)
  • Cover content modules relevant to your work in the world, including space to practice
  • Invite external expertise (guest speakers, panelists)

Outside the sessions, we will:

  • Support you in strategically expanding your community circles and professional network
  • Connect you to expert entrepreneurs and skilled professionals for timely advice based on your needs
  • Host virtual and occasional in-person co-working sessions to support your momentum
  • Encourage accountability pods for deep work
  • Invite you to arising events such as panel discussions


Applications for the 2023 BUILD program closed on May 299:00 AM PST.

To sign up for the BUILD program mailing list, add your contact details here.


What do we mean when we say

Systems Change Initiative?

Any problem you want to address is rooted in a set of connected parts that overlap, called a System.

When we talk about “Systems Change,” we refer to a process designed to alter an identified system’s dominant or ‘normal’ functions or structure with purposeful interventions. It aims to bring about lasting change by altering underlying structures and supporting mechanisms which make the system operate in a particular way (including policies, relationships, resources, routines, power structures, and values.)

Source: Migrant Systems Change Leadership Program, 2022

Venture & Alumni Initiatives

Wondering what a systems change initiative might look like? Check out these case studies from alum of our other programs.


Refugee Livelihood Lab Case Study:



Refugee Livelihood Lab Case Study:

The Global Market


Refugee Livelihood Lab Case Study:

Roots 'n Shoots

Wondering if you're a fit?

Below are hypothetical participant profiles of the types of people and teams we hope to support!

computing science student photos for recruitment posters

"Anum (she/her)"

As a nursing student, Anum noticed a pronounced gap in women’s health—recognizing and understanding symptoms of iron deficiency. With a few folks in her personal and professional circles, she hosted workshops and talking groups to share knowledge, with positive feedback from folks she worked with and the people who attended. After one year of hosting these, she explored the early-stage idea in a program that helped her refine her work to the top five under-serviced health conditions for women aged 30-45. Now in her second year as a practicing nurse, her goal is to sustainably embed this community solution back into the larger healthcare system and to expand the service to be available in multiple languages. She wants to connect with expert professionals for advice and feedback and be in a group again for accountability.

A non-binary person sitting behind a desk

"Kio (they/them)"

Kio has worked in policy for eight years in municipal government and various organizations to lift up their community. They recently engaged in policy-focused capacity-building and consulting “on the side” and are ready to expand this as their main focus. They want to learn about Equity-Centred Design to integrate it into their work. They also want to grow their confidence in business tools and frameworks, so they can expand their relationships with organizations nationally. 


"Food-Sovereignty Collective"

What began as a common need among a group of friends who were missing the flavors of home turned into a social enterprise. The three friends started out catering fusion global potlucks, then learned that their neighborhood is classified as a “food desert”. They turned their attention to enduring solutions for food security, and changed focus to permaculture community gardens. Eager to grow and scale their idea, and have gotten feedback from accelerator programs they’ve applied to that they need to focus on getting more clear on the basics, before they are ready to scale. They want to refine their marketing and branding, while making sure they continue to centre equity and community needs. Their main focus is how to tell their story to find different revenue sources to keep this going. 


Meet the People Shaping The Program


Bahar Afshar (she/her) | Facilitator, Equity-Centred Accelerator

Bahar is a facilitator and business coach passionate about working with entrepreneurs with a mission to serve their community. She brings over 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur, program manager, and consultant. She has owned and operated a clothing store in Vancouver and worked in economic and community development with government bodies, not-for-profits, and educational institutions across BC. She immigrated to Canada with her family at the age of sixteen, living and working on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples since then. As a settler and a first-generation immigrant, she is deeply interested in initiatives that centre on building inclusive communities and focusing on the common good.

Humaira Hamid (she/her) | Manager, Equity-Centred Accelerator

Humaira believes life is bigger than we might imagine, and that kindness is always called for. She is the Lab Manager for the emerging Equity Centred Accelerator portfolio at RADIUS. The portfolio explores how to support Better Futures For More Of Us, starting with lifting up the good work folks are already doing in their communities to address the most pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges they face. Humaira brings experience from a breadth of roles across industries, including early-stage startup coach and resource navigator, college instructor, bespoke event producer, and program designer in the non-profit sector. Her most valued roles are as Auntie, sibling, daughter, partner, and friend. Humaira holds certifications in community choir leadership, Movement Flow, and community capacity building, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of British Columba. A naturalized Canadian with Bengali heritage, she continues to weave formal learning with cultural teachings and a complex historical legacy. She makes home on the lands of the Okanagan syilx with a sassy bunny, a loving partner, and a hearty appetite for potatoes.

Ilhan Abdullahi (she/her) | Manager, Health Promotion Lab

Ilhan is a Somali-Canadian whose parents’ migration journey brought her to these unceded Coast Salish Lands at a very young age. Stemming from her family’s experience of being racialized newcomers, Ilhan has been passionate in addressing social and health inequities and developed a commitment to social justice. Having spent some time in community activism, youth work and health promotion in the Lower Mainlands of Vancouver, Ilhan then moved to Toronto to pursue her Masters in Public Health and gain a critical intersectional analysis on what promotes vulnerability to health inequities. She has recently returned to BC and is ecstatic to get involved in health equity and community work. When she’s not working, you can find her embarking on solo travels somewhere in the world.

Candice Day (she/her) | Manager, First Peoples Enterprise Accelerator

Candice is the manager of the RBC First Peoples Enterprise Accelerator Program (FPEAP). This program works in partnership with Indigenous-led organizations to co-create entrepreneurship programming that will best serve their communities. The FPEAP is committed to delivering entrepreneurship programming with an Indigenous lens, upholding Indigenous knowledge and worldview. Candice believes that an economy that is dynamic, just, sustainable, and resilient is one that supports and is informed by the wisdom of Indigenous entrepreneurs. She wishes to centre this wisdom and strength within the FPEAP, and work with partners who do the same. Candice brings a background in social enterprise development within urban Indigenous organizations to her role, as well as an MBA in Social Enterprise Leadership from the University of Fredericton. Candice is of Secwepemc, Chinese and European ancestry. Growing up in northern BC has given her a deep appreciation for the wild parts of this province…and within herself 😉 She lives for exploring both while on her DRZ400.


Making The BUILD Program Possible

BUILD is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre. Le projet BUILD est financé par le Centre des Compétences futures du gouvernement du Canada; Definity Insurance Foundation; Community Foundations of Canada; Gore Mutual; Vancouver FoundationRBC FoundationHealth Sciences Association; BCAA; and SFU’s Community Engagement Initiative.


Questions for the BUILD program team?

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If you have questions about the BUILD program, email