John Paul de Silva is the Founder and Managing Director of Social Focus Consulting, a Canadian company that offers "affordable business solutions to help non-profits achieve greater impact with optimized resources," according to its website.
Here, John Paul de Silva shares his wisdom about creating positive social change through business practices.
Four Questions with John Paul de Silva
1. How did the idea for the business model come about?
Based on experience with smaller non-profits, it became clear that they face many of the challenges, such as the need for cost control and maximizing operational efficiency, that their private sector counterparts encounter. With this in mind and considering my passion for social change, I wanted to create an opportunity for smaller non-profits to reap the organizational enhancement that comes from customized business solutions.
2. How did you decide to join this sector?
I constantly strive to improve my community. My first job post-undergrad was running the Study Sessions program at the University of Toronto. This was a program I founded, while a student, to help my fellow Life Science students have a more personalized learning experience. This was something that I felt was needed and personally longed for after studying in a large university setting and feeling disconnected from my professors. Over 800 students went through the program with over 16,000 hours of study session time administered.
Besides school, I also seek to improve the communities I live in. As a born and raised Torontonian, I've lived in a few neighbourhoods including Parkdale and Crescent Town but have spent most of my life in Malvern, a community that has struggled to achieve a positive reputation. Growing up and volunteering there (in hospitals, seniors homes, etc.) and seeing firsthand the consequences of drugs, gangs, and violence, increased my understanding of the need for social improvement.
I launched Social Focus Consulting because I believe that social change can most effectively be accomplished through business strategies.
3. How do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from people. Whether it's hearing on the news about a person whose overcome illness and hardship to become successful, or listening to old rap songs (e.g. A Tribe Called Quest), or watching my younger cousin mature into an adult with a family of her own, people and their stories inspire me the most.
4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
I don't have any rituals, per se, to become creative. Although I find that the dullest times are often the most conducive to creativity. For example, ideas often hit me when I'm at the gym on the treadmill, or when I'm stuck in traffic, or when I'm taking the subway into downtown.