Adjusting Capitalism Back to its Essence

Adjusting Capitalism Back to its Essence

New social venture incubator, accelerator intended to revolutionize field

Growing up in the tiny fishing town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, a subsistence-based economy familiar with boom or bust, Kirby Brown experienced firsthand the power of community.

“The sense of reliance on your neighbours is a very real one,” Kirby recalls. “It's not even necessarily a conscious decision, it's just part of how you live.”

That early experience seeded his belief in the potential of community to create change and make a difference in people's lives, eventually moving him to the professional path he is on now, creating social ventures. The most new of these, and still in its incubation stage, is a social venture to nurture and accelerate the launch of other social ventures.

“To me, the world is in trouble from a whole bunch of different perspectives, and the solutions all centre around community connectedness in the sense of shared responsibility,” says Kirby, who has stepped into the social venture field from a successful career in the ski business. He was a senior executive with the B.C. ski resort Whistler Blackcomb and then president and COO of a smaller ski town, Panorama Mountain Village, which he sold last year to a collective of local residents.

Kirby notes both he and his partner on this latest social venture, Air Miles for Social Change national director and social entrepreneur at heart Owen Ward, have had conversations on the fact that they're business people by nature, they live in a capitalist environment, and while the ideal might be to abolish or switch from that system, the answer they're coming to is to work with it.

“We need to figure out ways to use the energy of the capitalist model for good,” says Kirby.

“(We need to) adjust it to get back to its essence, which would be enabling people to live fully, without being a detriment to other people.

“To me that comes back to a sense of community, a global community, (and the idea) that you can help people create a sense of ownership in their lives and ownership over ideas and implementation that are nurturing to the planet and other people.”

Social enterprises, he adds, can be the vehicle for enabling people to live up to their potential, which means helping to solve the world's problems.

Owen and Kirby have identified a couple of qualities they would find most inspiring to see in the processes and systems around the social venture incubator/accelerator they're launching.

First, the processes and systems would be elegant, that is, beyond efficient, but in some ways beautiful. Second, they would be organic, that is, working with natural processes so that things could “grow and blossom.”

They see both those qualities leading up to infinite scale-ability, that is, creating “somewhat unfathomable amounts of change.”

“We didn't want to be able to imagine the difference that it would make; but we wanted to be able to seed things, and watch them grow in new and different directions,” says Kirby.

The power in the model is in understanding very small to very large ideas, running them through an evaluation on their thrive-ability and then surrounding them with the appropriate talent and capital to manifest them.

“It's about inspiring a new breed of entrepreneurship and supporting that with a tremendous amount of brain power and assets around industry knowledge in whichever sector they're participating in, as well as the capital to invest and keep on investing in them as they build and grow,” says Kirby.

Owen has suggested the model has the potential to revolutionize the way social ventures are launched in the next 10 years.

“That is very much our ambition,” says Kirby.

Reflecting on a question around how valuable he plans for his effort in this to be, Kirby says at the end of the day “we want to make a difference,”adding the goal is absence of ego.

“We're at a place and time in human history where each individual has to make a difference for things to change on a scale and in a time-frame that can actually correct some of the issues that exist in the world.”

He foresees the ideal outcome being that culture shifts towards understanding social business as the only way to do business, not one of several.

The social venture, which has yet to be named and incorporated, will be tested early next year.

If you have feedback on this article please contact Michelle at 800-294-0051, ext. 27, or e-mail michelle(at)


Writer Bio

Michelle Strutzenberger's picture
Michelle Strutzenberger

Generative Journalist


Reprint This Story

Axiom News content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Stories may be reprinted in their entirety with permission and when appropriately credited.

Please contact Axiom News at
1-800-294-0051 for more information.