Equity-Centred Accelerator

Reimagining what an accelerator could be

What is the Equity-Centred Accelerator?

 

The Equity-Centred Accelerator is a growing suite of programs and offerings at RADIUS SFU. 

Our vision is to shift systems so that they work better for more of us, and the folks who are most impacted are leading the work while being resourced and recognized for it.

The Equity-Centred Accelerator elevates and centres the ideas and priorities of Indigenous, Black, and racialized folks leading transformative social, economic, or environmental systems change initiatives with and for their communities. This emerging work lifts up for-profit, non-profit, cooperative and other ventures, policy change and advocacy initiatives, movement-building, funding vehicles, and other emerging expressions of systems innovation. 

The Equity-Centred Accelerator continues a growing movement to support deep shifts in the systems which govern our lives toward equity, dignity, and sustainability for all people and the planet. The programs offered are designed to lighten systemic burdens on equity-deserving folks in entrepreneurship and social innovation, who are working under the enduring legacy of White supremacist capitalism. Recognizing that some of you doing this work in your communities may not see yourself in the term “entrepreneur” or “innovator,” is part of how the Equity-Centred Accelerator work emerged: to expand the conversation to meet your realities.

Definitions

What we mean when we say

Equity-Centred: Deliberate design to recognize and unpack power structures inherent to the way things are currently structured. Equity is about each person getting what they need to thrive.

Pod: A pod is a type of relationship within transformative justice work developed by disability activist Mia Mingus (Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective), who created pod mapping to create a self-care community. In the context of our programs, we hope the pod serves as a space to gather with those you trust, respect, and cultivate reciprocal relationships with.

Systems Change Initiative: Any problem you want to address is rooted in a set of connected parts that overlap, and this is called a System. When we talk about Systems Change, we are referring to a process designed to alter the dominant or ‘normal’ functions or structure of an identified system with purposeful interventions. Systems change initiatives aim to bring lasting change by altering underlying structures and supporting mechanisms which make the system operate in a particular way (including policies, routines, relationships, resources, power structures, and values). Source: Migrant Systems Change Leadership Program Playbook 2022

Goals

Why an Equity-Centred Approach?

The way you work needs to make sense in the context, culture, and rhythms of your larger life. 

Indigenous, Black, and racialized folks are doing imaginative, innovative, and timely work to address pressing issues in hope of achieving health equity, migrant justice, and dignified economic realities. The Equity-Centred Accelerator plays a small part in supporting this important work by lightening the systemic burdens these leaders and innovators may face while working toward Better Futures For More Of Us.

We are reimagining our traditional incubator and accelerator programming to support folks that are ready to take their ideas to the next level. This reimagined suite of programming values relations, process, momentum, joy, healing, and restoration alongside typical success metrics like launching a venture, securing funding, or creating tax revenue.

We invite our many alumni from RADIUS programs, folks in the RADIUS community, and folks in the broader region to join us.

 

How This Came To Be

This work emerged as a part of a broader Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) journey at RADIUS. We questioned why we have strong engagement from a broad range of folks across most early-stage programming yet little involvement from Indigenous, Black, and racialized folks in our later-stage and acceleration programs. Where could we do better?

We commissioned an external assessment and report in 2021 that helped us identify both clear gaps in RADIUS programming and the broader ecosystem. There was a real need to be met, and some indication we could be the ones to meet it. This led us to embark on extensive community consultations with ecosystem partners, RADIUS alumni, and Indigenous, Black and racialized social innovators to investigate what equity-centred supports might look like on a structural, programmatic, and cultural level.

We have shaped what we heard from these community consultations, along with the deep learnings from concurrent RADIUS programming like Trampoline, into the emerging Equity-Centred Accelerator.

Programs

1. Concierge Service

Do you have an idea that would support your community’s health? A business that you want to grow but aren’t sure exactly how to? A non-profit that’s expanding rapidly and you could use a “point me to the right resource”? 

If so, reach out to us at concierge@radiussfu.com with questions on how to deepen or grow the social, economic, or environmental impact or sustainability of your idea, business, or innovation, and we’ll connect you with the appropriate training, resource, or human/organization. 

We know there’s a gap in services that account for BIPOC leaders’ lived realities and navigation of financial opportunities that help them scale their initiatives and that offer safe and supportive spaces. This concierge service, alongside our customized mentorship and BUILD program was established specifically to eliminate this gap.

2. Customized 1:1 Mentorship

An opportunity for RADIUS SFU alumni, current and former students, past participants, and entrepreneurs wanting to take the next step in their venture, social enterprise, co-op, or idea. Whether you need assistance in concept validation, formalizing your business model, marketing and branding, prototyping and testing, or commercializing your vision, we offer one-on-one, customized, and free mentorship throughout June and July through our Mentor-in-Residence program.

Book a 30-minute, one-on-one session with Alia Sunderji, a RADIUS Lab Educator, Activator, and Founder of Luv The Grub, with over 10 years of work experience in marketing roles within the food, music, and publishing industries.

This offering is currently on pause.

3. The BUILD Program

BUILD is a free six-month pilot offering designed by, for, and with input from equity-deserving people — Indigenous folks, Black folks, folks of colour. Launched in 2023, BUILD is designed for a small pod of committed people working toward Better Futures For More Of Us by addressing the pressing social, environmental, and economic challenges faced by their communities.

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 growing their initiatives (e.g. for-profit, non-profit, co-op, mutual aid, movement building, collectives).

Equity-centred in this offering looks like: 

  • Co-creating curriculum tailored to the needs & background of folks in the program
  • Facilitating peer-processing learning spaces
  • Providing care funds for dependents & stipends to support participation
  • Thoughtfully curated one-on-one time with racialized entrepreneurs & subject-matter professionals for conversation, coaching, & consultation
  • Inviting rest, joy, and imagination throughout the process

Please visit the BUILD page for complete program details.

The BUILD program is currently on pause.

In learning from the cycle of seasons, good programming is attentive to both root and shoot. Though we could be carried by the excitement of this year’s success and push for rapid or continuous growth, we know this might endanger the health of the program, including the intentions, outcomes, participants, and team members.

Instead, we are making space to reflect, digest, and integrate learnings from this inaugural year of offering the BUILD program.

To stay in the loop of what comes next, including related events and future co-work sessions, sign up for our email list. You can email questions or comments to concierge@radiussfu.com.

THE TEAM

Meet the Founding Equity-Centred Accelerator Team

Alia Sunderji

Alia Sunderji (she/her) | Entrepreneur-in-Residence

Alia is a social entrepreneur and lecturer at Simon Fraser University, where she teaches Sustainable Innovation and Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Passionate about the fields of sustainability, poverty alleviation and impact investing, Alia is the Founder of Luv The Grub, an emerging social enterprise that operates at a number of levels in the food system by capturing produce seconds that would otherwise go to waste, hires newcomer refugees and immigrants through a paid employment training program and produces delicious chutneys and spreads for the local market. In addition, Alia is also the Co-Founder of Liv & Lola, a fair trade home decor business that works with artisans in rural areas of Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Thailand where employment opportunities are scarce in an effort to lift them, their families and their communities out of poverty.

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.

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

Humaira believes life is bigger than we might imagine, and that kindness is always called for. The Equity-Centred Accelerator 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.

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.

Alycia Berg (she/her) | Intern

Alycia is a BCom student at the UBC Sauder School of Business, specializing in Marketing with a concentration in Sustainability and Social Impact. She is energized by the idea of using business as a force for good, and building a circular economy with equity at its core. This summer, Alycia is supporting the Equity-Centred Accelerator at RADIUS with research, planning, and program delivery. She is excited to bring her prior experiences in marketing and project management to the team. Outside of RADIUS, you'll find Alycia developing new recipes in the kitchen, nurturing her house plants, or outside on a run (always accompanied by a new Spotify playlist).

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Questions for the Equity-Centred Accelerator program team?

If you have questions about the Equity-Centred Accelerator at RADIUS, email us at concierge@radiussfu.com.

CURRENT FUNDERS & PARTNERS

Making The Equity-Centred Accelerator Possible

Thank you to our current partners and funders.

The Equity-Centred Accelerator is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre, Definity Insurance Foundation, and the Vancouver Foundation.

Founding FUNDERS & PARTNERS

Building Lasting Partnerships

The Equity-Centred Accelerator is grateful for the support from our founding partners and funders.

SFU’s Community Engagement Initiative; the Government of Canada Future Skills Program; Definity Insurance Foundation; Vancouver Foundation; Gore Mutual; BCAA; Community Foundations Canada; RBC Foundation.