Theory of change strategy

Theory of change and strategy

We operate systemically and strategically to enact positive, scalable change around the world — today and well into the future.

We want to see a world where everyone’s basic needs are met. A world where everyone can live to their full potential.

To realize this vision, we adopt a multi-pronged and innovative approach. We work at multiple levels – from investing in founding stage enterprises through our ventures programs, to triggering high-level policy changes through our advocacy work.

Creating lasting and positive change means renovating entire systems. The root causes that hold people back are deeply entrenched in our social, political and economic systems: from banking and finance through to more sustainable housing solutions.

These systems have proven inadequate for billions of people around the world. They are fundamentally broken. They need to change.

We adopt a systemic approach. We strive to foster practical on-the-ground contributions to immediately benefit communities in Canada and Africa, while working to create long-term innovations to impact people’s lives and communities on a global scale.


In order to improve and disrupt broken social systems, we need to create change. To that end, our model of Systems Change Leadership is about investing in leaders capable of enacting transformation. We achieve this through fostering ideas, collaboration and innovation to improve living conditions for underserved people in Africa.

By training leaders through our Fellowship programs and pairing them with innovative African business ventures, we support accessible, sustainable and inclusive economic opportunities.

The problem we’re solving: Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs)—namely those that create goods and services that markedly improve the lives of impoverished and underserved communities (either directly or indirectly)—are crucial to sparking sustainable growth.

At present, SGBs do not receive the critical support they need to thrive. This is particularly true in Sub Saharan Africa, where entrepreneurial ecosystems are weak. The challenges facing African entrepreneurs include:

  • Weakened supply chains.
  • Lack of infrastructure support.
  • Inability to access capital, talent and business networks.

At the same time, the engineering profession touches many systems. Engineers have the skills required to solve these challenges, and transform many of the industry sectors SGBs operate in: from agriculture and communications to water delivery and transport.

However, the engineering profession is not optimized or expected to contribute to this variety of social change.

Systems Change Leadership is about reframing the role of the engineer and partnering leaders with African SGBs to enact and accelerate global development.

The solution: With the necessary skills and perspective, Systems Change Leaders can provide the spark that Small and Growing Businesses need to revolutionize systems, to better serve impoverished communities.

We invest in creating Systems Change Leaders in Canada and Africa through:

  • Encouraging the engineering community to evolve the profession’s global role and responsibilities.
  • Equipping pioneering professionals with the skills to help African SGBs solve the problems they face, through our Fellowship programs.

We support Africa’s progressive SGBs by coupling our Fellow talent with seed investment. We combine funding with mentorship, practical talent and strategic advice to spur the success of innovative and scalable founding-stage businesses.

See our success with Small and Growing Businesses


Support groundbreaking businesses in Africa to scale their impact globally.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and the challenging environments of Sub-Saharan Africa are birthing revolutionary approaches to problems that affect the globe.

From sustainable agricultural practice to developments in communications technology, we partner with innovative businesses and invest in ideas based on potential for impact at a global scale.

Where appropriate, we bring ventures together to unlock sector-level innovations.

This is achieved by:

  • Fostering first-of-their kind social enterprises with the potential to impact millions of people living in poverty, through our unique investment model.
  • Tailored, long-term investments of up to $100,000 in Small and Growing Business Ventures.
  • Embedding long term EWB Fellows in on-the-ground initiatives to support business progress and accelerate growth.
  • Interrogating and refining methods of service delivery in our Governance for Sustainable Services portfolio.

Empower the next generation of Canadian and African leaders to enact systems change.

To create ongoing, sustainable change and facilitate impact into the future, we are cultivating a network of 30,000 EWB visionaries through the Systems Change Leadership program.

Systems Change Leaders are trained to adopt a comprehensive perspective of global systems, and equipped with techniques to identify opportunities and develop strategies to improve them.

This is achieved by:

  • Institutionalizing leadership, innovation and social purpose into the Engineering profession in Canada through the Systems Change Leadership program.
  • Making our chapter system sustainable and scalable, to deepen the level of impact we have on the 600,000 person Canadian engineering community.
  • Developing the brightest minds in Canada, equipping them with practical skills and insights, and embedding them as change agents through Fellowship programs.
  • Supporting and empowering African leaders to create change through the Kumvana Fellowship.
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