Startup Canada Podcast: Tonya Surman on Building a Caring Economy

As a teen, like most her age, Tonya Surman was faced with the fate-defining question of choosing between good and evil. She knew the road to evil would be more lucrative, but instead, she made a decision to use her skills to make a positive impact on society. However, after feeling continuously disempowered by inefficiencies and lack of progress working at various non-profit organizations, Surman knew her frustration needed an outlet.

“I was confronted over and over again with people reinventing the wheel and getting nowhere. I found this to be infuriating,” said Surman. “My passion is driven by rage, by the frustration of people trying to do good, (of people) who care so deeply who are being confronted obstacle by obstacle, (and) who are trying to get their work to the next level.”

To help social organizations overcome this, Surman co-founded the Centre for Social Innovation, which works to catalyze social innovation in Toronto and around the world, and is currently its CEO. She’s also the co-author of the book The Community Bond: An Innovation in Social Finance and was also named the Global Ashoka Fellow.

In this #StartupPodcast, host Rivers Corbett chats with Surman about the social entrepreneurship revolution; shifting models of sustainability; trends, challenges and opportunities for social entrepreneurs in Canada; and, what needs to be done to support and promote the success of Canadian social entrepreneurs.

The Startup Canada Podcast Show is a production of Startup Canada, a grassroots, entrepreneur-led movement to bring together, celebrate, and give a voice to Canada’s entrepreneurship community. On the podcast, award-winning entrepreneur host Rivers Corbett speaks with the movers and shakers of Canada’s entrepreneurship community to give a glimpse into the future of business, and share insights on everything from social innovation to the future of work, investing, and why we need to think bigger to take our businesses global. Join Rivers Corbett for new episodes every Tuesday airing at 10 AM ET for lessons, trends, and opportunities in entrepreneurship from Vancouver to Fredericton; and Israel to Peru.

You can find every episode of The Startup Canada Podcast Show at


Startup Canada

Startup Canada is a grassroots network of entrepreneurs working together to build an environment for entrepreneurship in Canada.

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