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Centre for Building Sustainable Value · Rebecca Zuker, HBA '23 Candidate

Ivey alumna spurs social impact on a global scale

Nov 21, 2022

Kelly L

Photo Credit: Kelly A. Lovell

While pursuing a dual degree in Medical Sciences and Business Administration in 2013, then student Kelly Lovell had aspirations not only to make a meaningful difference within her local community but around the world.  

Letting Passion Spark Social Change 

Starting her first business at 19, Lovell began her entrepreneurial journey pursuing her ventures alongside her undergraduate studies. Over the next few years, Lovell built a stellar track-record as a strategist and youth consultant for global youth campaigns, working with top governing bodies and multi-national corporations including Coca-Cola, H&M, IBM, Staples, Toyota Tsusho, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Office, World Health Organization (WHO), UN Women, and the United Nations Department on Social and Economic Affairs (UN DESA)  

Her experiences in social innovation, entrepreneurship and preparing for the future of work led her to found BridgingTheGap Ventures in 2019. Lovell noticed that the areas of social innovation were highly fragmented and independent; what’s more, young people were often not included or welcome in these spaces. This gap prompted Lovell to create her company that actively works to eliminate these barriers and create a space for more inclusive programming.  

“As seen in the name ‘BridgingTheGap’, we wanted to serve as a bridge to create unity in the youth sector,” Lovell explains. “By bringing all organizations together to facilitate collaboration, we have developed a streamlined channel for various stakeholders—decision-makers, brands, policy makers, celebrity influencers—to connect into all of the amazing initiatives that each is respectively doing and to have one unified touch point to engage mission-aligned young people. BridgingTheGap is the hub to all of the spokes of the wheel that is the youth sector.”  

Innovating Amidst Uncertainty 

The following year, in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Lovell launched YOUNGA®the largest global festival for impact. YOUNGA brings people from all across the world together to collaborate on solutions for making our world more inclusive and sustainable. Specifically, YOUNGA focuses on engaging underrepresented and underserved groups in their programming to help increase opportunities for enrichment and development. Over the past two years, YOUNGA has upskilled over 4,000 young people in 150 countries—99% of whom now state feel empowered to take action in their own communities.  

How Ivey Enriched Her Entrepreneurship Journey  

Now looking back on her Ivey experience, Lovell values the case-based method that exposed her to experiential situations and served as a great learning opportunity. The HBA program taught her about the unspoken principles and practices of the business world that became beneficial in her professional career.  

Two years after Lovell left the HBA program to pursue her entrepreneurial ventures, she returned to Ivey through the Ivey Academy, where she completed the Communication and Leadership Presence Certificate aimed at executives. After being in the entrepreneurial space for quite some time, Lovell recognized the importance of soft skills such as emotional intelligence (EQ) and negotiating in building working relationships. The executive education program helped further her interpersonal skills and grow her reach even wider.  

“The experiential component is the most essential component for your success after graduation,” notes Lovell. “It’s the skills you develop ancillary to the knowledge-based learning in school that makes you that double threat—proficient in both hard and soft skills.”  

Social Impact is the Future of Business 

As Lovell looks forward, she strongly believes social enterprises will be the future of business—where sectors will merge, and all organizations will incorporate impact within their business models. Why? Consumers are increasingly making choices that align with their values and many companies are missing out on this opportunity by segmenting sustainability from other divisions rather than integrating it. When a company puts purpose into the value system of their organization, benefits like higher employee retention rates and closer relationships with consumers consistently occur.  

“Impact shouldn’t just be a CSR priority—sustainability and purpose are cross-cutting elements,” asserts Lovell. “Sustainability should be integrated into the fabric, culture and ethos of your organization—from hiring practices and team culture to your supply chain, it should be a consideration in every part of the business.” 


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