Legacy Leadership Lab - L3

Cliquez ici pour le site français.

The challenge

The small business succession challenge has been in Canadian headlines for decades, but business owners and their communities still struggle to manage ownership exits gracefully. In addition with the COVID-19 regulations affecting nearly every small business across the country, more business owners than ever must make tough choices about the survival and sustainability of their enterprise.

These are systemic issues that require expert-led problem-solving.


The solution

One owner’s exit is the chance for a whole new beginning. Businesses that are essential parts of their local communities can be converted from their traditional origins to social purpose or cooperative enterprises to continue that entrepreneurial legacy.


The process

A small team at WISIR out of University of Waterloo’s School of Environment, Enterprise and Development is running structured social innovation workshops in three formats: the Design Stream, the Activation Stream, and the broader L3 Community monthly events. The Legacy Leadership Lab will assist L3 members in developing market interventions and prototypes that allow conventional and social finance players, business service providers, and community leaders to facilitate social purpose conversions of existing businesses in their own towns, while connecting them to a larger ecosystem, a large and diverse professional network, and a growing body of knowledge and research on social acquisitions.


The people

WISIR’s team is running and facilitating the L3 initiative and virtual workshops, but the workshop participants are the ones doing the heavy lifting. If you or your organization is looking to design and test new market solutions in social finance and succession, consider joining or forming a Design Group.

We are looking for

  • small business owners,
  • small business service providers,
  • small business financiers, and
  • other experts in the fields of business succession, cooperative and social enterprise development, and business conversions

who are interested in modeling and remaking Canada’s succession landscape.

Consult the navigation menu on the left for more details.


Legacy Leadership Lab is supported by generous funders and sponsors.

The Legacy Leadership Lab is funded by the Government of Canada's Investment Readiness Program.

canada logo

IRP logo

The Legacy Leadership Lab has also received generous support from DUCA Impact Lab as the Platinum Sponsor for the Toronto Workshop in January 2020.

DUCA Impact Lab

Finally, we recognize the generous in-kind support of the following organizations: The Making Box, Realize Strategies.

Making Box logo 

Realize Strategies

  1. Mar. 16, 2021Community Update: Final Findings and Continuity
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    * click here for the French version.

    After over 18-months of hard work, the Legacy Leadership Lab will conclude its first iteration as a leader in social acquisition research and design at the end of April.

  2. Apr. 27, 2021Meet an L3 Activator: Elizabeth McRae
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  3. Feb. 16, 2021Meet an L3 Activator: Mark Shields
    Mark Shields

    This interview is part one of a series of interviews with L3 Community members in the Activation stream. The L3 Community is a fast-evolving group of stakeholders that are involved in designing, delivering, or supporting products, services, and initiatives that will enable social acquisitions in their own communities and contexts. Members in the Community’s Activation stream aim raise interest around Canada in building systemic support for social acquisitions and social p

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