LEAP! is hosted by a partner organization in the community. The partner organization recruits participants and provides a classroom. SFU provides a proven program delivery model, with live online instruction and support.
LEAP! Approach to Entrepreneurship
To meet the goals of our program for partners and their entrepreneurs, we focus on four areas that are important for entrepreneurship development.
Support Networks: The emergence of small businesses in communities is often done on an individual basis with new entrepreneurs siloed off from each other. However, LEAP!’s cohort model creates and develops entrepreneurial networks to support each other through the early stages of growth and increase economic health through mutual aid, collective purchasing, new venture partnerships, etc.
Teaching Curriculum: LEAP! is a flexible and customizable curriculum based on the Lean Start-up Method, which has been used for many thousands of businesses globally. It focuses on the “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP), or the easiest and most cost-efficient venture to launch, and encourages testing and pivoting ideas so that entrepreneurs remain nimble and are able to pursue the best opportunities for growth. SFU CED brings not only the rigor of our university approaches to economic development, but also instructors and video content that supplement the core curriculum with sector-specific expertise and local case studies from Western Canada.
Enabling Environment: While entrepreneurs need to bring good ideas to the marketplace, the surrounding communities must also provide the resources and policy frameworks to enable entrepreneurial success. The LEAP! program therefore includes targeted outreach to local governments, financial institutions, and relevant stakeholders to encourage entrepreneurial support and awareness of CED methods. We generally partner with CBOs to identify these stakeholders, hold meetings or workshops, and build momentum around entrepreneurial programming. Our staff and instructors visit communities in person and participate directly.
Program Growth: Being an educational institution, SFU CED promotes capacity building and evidence-based decision-making in all of our work. We therefore support partner CBOs in establishing the capacity to run their own LEAPs through a “train-the-trainer” approach and mentoring of local staff. We also conduct surveys and longitudinal research with participants to understand the successes and challenges of the program, which is then presented back to our partners to help us collectively identify how to improve and grow program activities.