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Alberta Social Economy Design Cafe

A Day of Collaboration for Alberta’s Social Enterprise and Social Finance Ecosystem

Applications are closed as of January 25, 2023 at midnight.

Stay tuned for updates about this round of the design cafe and future events! We'll be sharing via this web page, and our newsletter, updates about the chosen design cafe projects, how the process went, and updates on running the design cafe again in the future. 


Do you have...

Do you have a project or idea that brings together different groups or people in support of the broader social enterprise space in Alberta?


Do you have an idea that addresses a gap or unmet need when supporting socially minded businesses in Alberta?

Do you have a way to help increase the understanding and participating of parts of our community in social enterprise and/or social finance?


Do you have something that we haven’t even considered yet that you know will benefit the broader Social Enterprise and Social Finance space in Alberta?


We invite you to submit your project for our Design Cafe.

What exactly is this thing?

The Alberta Social Economy Design Cafe is a one-day immersive experience for individuals and teams who are focused on building and growing Alberta’s social economy. Part workshop, part collaboration, and part strategization, the Design Cafe is an opportunity for projects and ideas that are making Alberta the best place to build and grow. 

What is the social economy? 

The Social Economy consists of social enterprise and social finance organizations working towards increasing the scale of our impact and improving social outcomes for all Albertans.

Who should apply?

We welcome projects from all stages of readiness: from idea, prototype, or minimal viable product, to an initiative ready to scale. If you have a project that supports the capacity of the Alberta social enterprise and social finance ecosystem, you can apply. There is no requirement to have any level of incorporation or structure. 

What are the benefits to attending?

The Design Cafe is an opportunity to: 

  • Build relationships with resource organizations.

  • Gain insights from resource organizations. Come prepared to ask your questions.

  • Develop a clear understanding of the three lenses of design and their role in your project or idea.

  • Create a path forward with clear next steps.

What do you mean by projects and ideas?

The Design Cafe is intended for projects that are 

  • Collaborative in nature, either by those doing the  project or through the project participants

  • Supports general social entrepreneurship in Alberta (is not directly supporting a specific social enterprise or business)

Examples of a possible project or idea

  • A few Edmonton based organizations come together to facilitate a Peer Mentorship Program for Social Entrepreneur Mental Health

  • A few social finance intermediaries want to come together to start a fund that supports experimentation 

  • Someone wants to facilitate an engagement session with many different groups that come together to explore consistent language and definitions

  • Three capacity building organizations want to come together to develop a curriculum to help support not for profit organizations to better understand social entrepreneurship and social finance.  

What will the day look like?

The Design Cafe will be facilitated by The Social Impact Lab Alberta  (SIL AB). 

Using human-centred design principles and design practices, SIL AB will design the day’s activities to meet the needs and objectives of participants, and deliver: 


  • Collaborative Engagement Sessions 

    • Connecting like projects together for peer learning and potential collaboration 

    • Building and facilitating relationships between projects and resources that could lead to collaboration, funding, or other support. 

  • Designing for success session 

    • Using the three lenses of: desirability, feasibility, viability, you/your team will identify key next steps for advancing your project. 


You can also expect group warm-up activities, icebreakers (we promise nothing cheesy), and opportunities for reflective learning and session debrief. 

I have questions, what do I do?

Attend our Q&A session on January 16, 2023 from 11am to 12 via zoom.


You can also reach out directly to Please note that it can take up to 2 business days for a response, please do not leave your questions until right before the application deadline.  


How do I apply?

To apply to participate in the Design Cafe, please complete the expression of interest, via this google form, by Wednesday January 25, 2023 at midnight.

What happens after I apply?

AB Seed and The Social Impact Lab will review applications and assess for: 

  • Eligibility criteria (Alberta project, that will support the overall capacity of the broader ecosystem) 

  • Readiness for learning and collaboration at the design cafe (ie. you have an idea of what you’d like to gain by participating)

  • And selecting for a diverse range of projects and implementors 


Selected projects will receive a letter of invitation early February, including the details of the event, the expectations for participation, and how to prepare.  Attendees will be required to participate in a pre-interview in February, as well as a follow up session 3-6 months after the Design Cafe for updates and evaluation.  


The Design Cafe is being held Early March, with the location to be determined based on the overall location of the selected projects.  Travel bursaries will be available if required.  

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