PostIt note with a drawing of a light bulb

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.

Remote video URL

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
Investment Readiness Program logo

The Legacy Leadership Lab has also received generous support from DUCA Impact Lab as the Platinum Sponsor for the Toronto MAP Workshop in January 2020, and from the Programme d'appui au relations canadiennes at the Secrétariat aux relations canadiennes of the Quebec Government for the online LAUNCH Workshop in February 2021.

DUCA Impact Lab logo
Quebec logo

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

The Making Box logo
Realize Strategies logo


Thursday, December 3, 2020

Join the last L3 events of 2020

Join as a guest at the L3 BUILD workshop!

Registration is now open for guests to join the Legacy Leadership Lab’s highly anticipated BUILD workshop December 8 and 10!

Every single one of Canada’s 1.3m small businesses are facing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and every single owner has a story to tell about surviving and sometimes even thriving through the challenge.

This fall, L3 met virtually with four Canadian entrepreneurs and produced this video to share the stories of history, family, dedication and perseverance at the heart of every Canadian small business.