A social entrepreneur who believes businesses can help boost communities is bringing his innovative ideas to Lethbridge College. Mark Brand will lead a design thinking workshop with Lethbridge College students and employees on Thursday.
Brand is one of North America’s foremost social entrepreneurs, having launched 11 businesses. He is determined to breathe new life into struggling and disjointed communities through his work in social impact businesses. He has had success in creating sustainable business models that make a difference, while also achieving profitable bottom lines.
“Much of Mark’s message revolves around the idea that if a community is unwell, then we are all unwell,” says Megan Shapka, Lethbridge College manager of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “He has specialized in creating businesses that fill needs in the community and create better lives for those who live there. We are excited that he is willing to share his expertise with our community.”
Brand helps groups understand how to use their own passion and purpose to make the world a better place through their own work. He is an expert in design thinking and systems innovation, having served a fellowship at Stanford University’s d.school, an academic institution at the forefront of applying and teaching design thinking.
Design thinking is a skill emphasized in the college’s extracurricular Agriculture Entrepreneur in Residence (AgENT) program, where students work with industry mentors to solve real-world problems facing the agriculture industry.
“What we’re trying to do with AgENT, Mark is already doing,” says Shapka. “Agriculture and food sustainability is a social issue, it’s a cornerstone of our community, so we’re looking forward to the insights he can bring that will help drive us forward.”
Along with overseeing five impact companies under the MB Inc. banner, Brand is a Stanford fellow, Professor of Innovation at USC, Executive Chef for The American Refugee Committee and Pope Francis's Laudato Si Challenge. It’s through his cooking, advocacy, systems design and love for the community that he’s found a unique balance in business and purpose.
Brand will lead an interactive workshop from 9 to 11 a.m. on Thursday in The Pivot, Lethbridge College’s student entrepreneur space. Brand will also give a keynote speech on Wednesday afternoon.