Mark Brand

Mark Brand

Social Entrepreneur | Restaurateur

Mark Brand is one of North America’s foremost social entrepreneurs. With 11 businesses under his belt, he is an example of a new form of leadership that encompasses good in every step. Determined to breathe new life into our struggling and disjointed communities through his work in social impact business, Brand shares his message on the importance of sustainable business models that make a difference, while also creating successful bottom lines.

Eight years ago, Brand took over Save On Meats, a Vancouver-based institution that has provided food security and access since 1957. In 2013, he created The Token Program, an alternate currency to feed those in need without a cash exchange. Since then, more than 125,000 tokens have been redeemed, filling 125,000 empty stomachs, and creating  a quarter million interactions between those who have and those in need in Vancouver. The Token Program has launched with partners from San Francisco to Nova Scotia.

In addition, in partnership with his charity A Better Life Foundation (ABLF), more than 2.1 million meals have left Save On’s doors to feed those who struggle. Additionally, dozens of people who were formerly homeless have found a home. ABLF works with community agencies, marginalized individuals, and governments to create tangible waves of change.

Along with overseeing the five impact companies under the MB Inc. umbrella, Brand is a Stanford fellow, professor of innovation at the University of Southern California, and an executive chef for The American Refugee Committee. It’s through his cooking, advocacy, systems design, and love for his community that he’s found a unique balance in business and purpose.

Brand leads audiences through real life examples coupled with emergent practices in design thinking and systems innovation. Mixing storytelling and engagement, Brand helps groups understand how to use their own passion and purpose to make the world a better place through their own work. He is also a certified integral facilitator and helps to unstick groups facing deep challenges through design.


Business with a Conscience

Mark Brand believes that good business doesn’t have to come at the cost of doing good. Discussing the tenants of blending corporate and community leadership, Mark draws on his own decades-long experience of successful social entrepreneurship to guide and encourage audiences in their own endeavours. Fully customizable, Mark can discuss his own experience (and lessons learned); the best practices for employing people who traditionally have had barriers to employment; mentorship; the importance of leverage and partnerships; thinking outside the box; and sticking to your philosophies during tough economic times.

A Better Life

Mark Brand’s “A Better Life Foundation” works to facilitate empowerment and a sense of wellbeing for those who struggle with addictions and mental illness issues by providing food security, education, and employment training. Speaking on the organization’s conception to its present-day incarnation, Mark stresses the importance of community involvement to create a meaningful life, as well as the current and future state of non-profits in Canada and beyond.

Building Better Communities

Successful and vibrant communities are built with real inclusion.  Mark Brand works in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, a community long recognized as being in flux.  The space of  one city block separates million dollar condos and 8×10-single-room occupancy’s dedicated as housing for the mentally ill and addicted.

Brand’s work in the DTES encompasses food security, training, employment, and strategic partnerships with developers and social enterprises alike.  He works to change  policy municipally–and perception nationally–in an effort to help create and build better communities that are rich, inclusive, and wonderful places in which to live and work, and  where residents  look after one another.

He speaks on this topic with the passion that translates to all levels of business and society, regardless of color, creed, or financial status.