Dear Venture for Canada Supporters and Stakeholders,
Change is the only constant. Amidst the turmoil of the past year, Venture for Canada experienced significant growth while doubling down our efforts to cultivate an exceptional organizational culture and invest in equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Reflecting on 2021, antifragility has become more important than ever to study and understand. Naseem Taleb defines antifragility as the ability to thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors, writing “the resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”
Taleb argues “you get pseudo-order when you seek order; you only get a measure of order and control when you embrace randomness.”
Ironically, trying to minimize disorder makes you more vulnerable to risks. In volatile times, everyone needs to develop antifragility. Venture for Canada fosters the entrepreneurial skills and mindset of young Canadians so that they are prepared to thrive, rather than stumble, in response to the setbacks life throws at them.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented health, economic, and social challenges. It tested our resolve as individuals, organizations, and communities. Despite these obstacles, Venture for Canada emerged more impactful than ever.
Over the past year, we invested in enhancing our programs, organizational capacity, and commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
The Veritas Foundation reported Venture for Canada as the 6th fastest growing charity in Canada over the past five years. In 2021, 2,574 young Canadians participated in our programs, 97% increase from the previous year, and 50x the number of participants who went through VFC’s programs in 2016.
In 2021, VFC launched the Intrapreneurship program, which provides current post-secondary students the opportunity to work on projects on behalf of innovative small and medium-sized enterprises across the country. This program is VFC’s first foray into making short-duration work-integrated learning opportunities available to students (remotely) in every region.
Last year, we began to deliver programming in Quebec and hired our inaugural two staff members based in the province. In 2022, we’re excited to build upon Venture for Canada’s foundations in Quebec to serve more young Canadians and employers.
Venture for Canada’s first cross-sectoral partnership, the Reskilling Retail Workers project, launched. The research, design, and prototyping project tests a training program to support retail workers displaced by the pandemic through re-skilling. We’re grateful to work with partners like Rippen, Shopify, and the Centre for Indigenous Innovation and Technology.
In 2021, Venture for Canada invested in enhancing our organizational culture as the staff team grew from approximately 18 to 30 people.
We are proud to share that 100% of staff members indicated that they are proud to work at VFC in an anonymous survey that was conducted late last year.
We are also committed to continuing to work hard to ensure that Venture for Canada remains a fantastic place to work. In 2022, we aim to continue to enhance our supports of employees through implementing a benefits program and RRSP matching.
We are committed to prioritizing serving young Canadians who come from under-served groups. In 2021 53% of Venture for Canada’s program participants identified as women and 41% identified as visible minorities, with a commitment to deepen our reach.
Venture for Canada significantly increased the number of scholarships available to support young people with financial barriers to participating in the Fellowship Program. Last year, Venture for Canada raised $120,000 in donations to support 40 scholarships for young people to become Venture for Canada Fellows, which is four times the amount raised in 2020 and will be distributed in 2022.
We also invested in ensuring that VFC’s workplace reflects the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion through providing training to staff on a wide variety of subjects including mental health, Indigenous issues, and neurodiversity.
In closing, all this impact would not have been possible if it was not for VFC’s staff, board members, donors, alumni, participants, volunteers, employers, and other stakeholders. We are truly appreciative of this collective support and can’t wait to see what the Venture for Canada community can accomplish together in 2022.