CCSBE 2016 Comes to Guelph

Posted on Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Written by Andrew Nixon

Over the span of three days at the end of May, Canadian, American, and international academics, small business owners, industry partners, and members of various NGO's descended upon campus for the 2016 edition of the Canadian Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Conference. The conference, jointly hosted by CBaSE and the College of Business and Economics (CBE), promised a boutique, intimate setting aimed to spark conversations and build partnerships to identify and tackle the issues facing Canadian small businesses and entrepreneurs. True to CBE's vision of creating Leaders for a Sustainable World, the conference theme was "Business as a Force for Good", with a range of topics including:

  • Social, Environmental and Ethical Enterprise

  • Gender and Enterprise

  • Rural Enterprise

  • Business Creation and Innovation

  • Enterprise Education

  • International Entrepreneurship

The first day began with a welcome reception at PJ's Restaurant. As attendees trickled in, Melanie Lang, the Director of CBaSE, greeted everyone with a short speech to officially start CCSBE 2016.

City of Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie opened up the morning of day two to welcome the delegates to the city. Day two also featured a panel discussion on Women in Leadership and Entrepreneurship; Melanie Lang moderated a lively discussion between the audience and Brenda Irwin (Managing Partner of Relentless Pursuit Partners) and Petra Kassun-Mutch (founder of LiisBeth Magazine & Eve-Volution Inc.), and Julia Christensen-Hughes, Dean of CBE. Jim Estill, Guelphite and current CEO of Danby, delivered a keynote presentation highlighting his habits for success to close out the day.

It was then off on a shuttle downtown to Miijidaa for The Taste of Guelph, where Court Desautels, Director of Operations of The Neighbourhood Group, walked diners through both a sumptuous menu and the journey they took to become Guelph's first B Corp restaurant. The wonderful three-course meal gave attendees time to relax after a full day of presentations while continuing conversations over a range locally sourced food and beverages. Dixon’s Distillery, Wellington Brewery, Royal City Brewing Co., and Revel Cider were amongst the featured businesses. The evening captured the conference theme and underscored the practice of using business as a force for good.

Gavin Armstrong, CEO and founder of The Lucky Iron Fish, continued this theme on the morning of the final day during his keynote presentation about his work to combat global iron deficiency. After the final concurrent sessions wrapped up, Melanie Lang delivered the closing remarks to an audience that wished that the days hadn’t gone by so quickly. Reflecting on the success of the conference, Lang had to say “CCSBE is a non-traditional boutique conference allowing delegates the opportunity to take a deeper dive into issues relating to entrepreneurship, enterprise education, and small business management. The intimate setting allowed for discussions around best practices, policies, and programs. We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to host and to help convene these conversations."

Julia Christensen-Hughes echoed Lang’s statement, “This conference was an excellent opportunity to showcase the University and the City of Guelph, and to demonstrate our shared commitment to seeing business as a tool for positive social change. By having a mix of academics and organizational leaders in attendance, we were able to explore themes of social entrepreneurship and corporate social responsibility as well as the opportunity to embed more of this content in Canadian business curricula.”

The CCSBE Board of Directors was also impressed by Guelph’s hosting prowess, with CCSBE President Mary Kilfoil (Assistant Professor and Launch Dal Academic Lead, Dalhousie University) adding, “I want to express my congratulations to Guelph for hosting the 2016 CCSBE Conference – I had great conversations and thoroughly enjoyed the calibre of discussion in each of the sessions.”

Click here for photos from the event.

CCSBE 2016 would not have been such a success without the generous support of our sponsors:


The Canadian Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (CCSBE) is the only member-based organization in Canada whose goal is to promote and advance the development of small business and entrepreneurship. Run by a volunteer Board of Directors, CCSBE works to create a network of academics, practitioners, and policy influencers who are interested in discussing and sharing best practices and research in the field.

About CBE

The College of Business and Economics is Uniquely Guelph in all the best ways. We attract students and faculty who have a social conscience, an environmental sensibility and a commitment to community involvement.  We offer robust and challenging majors to students in four academic units:

Our vision is to develop and be Leaders for a Sustainable World.

Our mission is to provide a transformational learning environment that encourages critical reflection, personal growth, community engagement and global awareness, and promotes comprehensive understanding of both traditional and emerging themes in management and economics. We foster social and ethical responsibility and prepare graduates for leadership roles that will improve the effectiveness of their organizations and the well being of people in Canada and around the world.

About CBaSE

Housed within the College of Business and Economics and located in the University of Guelph's Business Innovation Zone (uoG-BIZ), The Centre for Business and Student Enterprise (CBaSE) shares a 12,000 square-foot multidisciplinary co-working space where students and youth entrepreneurs can access on-campus business support and advisory services to turn their ideas into successful businesses. At CBaSE we approach entrepreneurship as a daily practice rather than a discipline. We are committed to offering access to entrepreneurial thinking and experiential learning which challenges the status quo.

CBaSE enables collaboration with the local community and offers programs that have the potential to transform students' understanding of their disciplines, world-views and abilities. From these experiences, students are also given the opportunity to master disciplinary knowledge and develop essential skills and attitudes for life and career success.

CBaSE acts as the gateway between the business school, the University of Guelph campus, and the surrounding Guelph community, facilitating interdisciplinary collaboration and real-world experience.

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