Celebrating diverse social entrepreneurs

Aug 25th, 2022

Sarah Croft

From dog rescuing to upcycling household food waste into energy, the Centre for Social Enterprise (CSE) recently celebrated the graduation of a diverse group of social innovators from its Social Ventures Incubator.

Five social entrepreneurs from the 2021-2022 cohort graduated on May 13. Six new social ventures were welcomed into the 2022-2023 cohort at the same event, which was held at The Fluvarium on May 13.

Memorial’s Social Ventures Incubator was founded in 2020 and remains the only incubator for social enterprises in the province.

The graduates

Five graduates of the social ventures incubator posing with their plaques with the manager of the centre for social enterprise

Howby, Recycle on the Rock, Renewabli Waste Solutions, ReWild Wellness and #RisingYouthPreneur completed their one-year terms in the incubator.

Their time in the incubator involved working with business advisors Carolann Harding (SmartICE), Courtney Rowsell (TaskforceNL) and Doug Pawson (End Homelessness St. John’s) for business development and mentorship.

The group completed two training programs — social return on investment with SiMPACT and human centred design with Wendy Reid Fairhurst — and they participated in training sessions focused on legal matters with Allison Wade of Peddigrew Wade Law; strategic planning with Keith Collins, executive-in-residence at Memorial’s business faculty; and incorporating as a B Corp with Emily Bland and Andrea Peet, SucSeed.

The graduates also benefitted from building connections with other local social entrepreneurs such as Constanza Safatle of Newbornlander and Lloydetta Quaicoe of Sharing our Cultures.

About the graduates

Mariana Jimenez Ojeda and Garrett Melee are co-founders of Howby, a social venture that aims to provide a safe and long-lasting home to dogs through value-added training while positively influencing the well-being of people with mental health conditions.

Trevor Bessette is the founder of Recycle on the Rock, a social venture fighting to decrease plastic pollution in Newfoundland and Labrador and to educate the population in the process. 

The goal is to establish a large network of community drop-off points throughout the province that will allow people to easily recycle common waste plastics that are overlooked by current waste management systems.

Jess Spooner is the founder of ReWild Wellness, which fights climate change by reconnecting people to the natural world through nature-based programs. It focuses on women, particularly those in vulnerable situations, and offers hiking, life coaching, forest therapy, mood walks and all-inclusive backpacking adventures.

Mandy Penney is the founder of #RisingYouthPreneur, which aims to reduce unemployment and poverty rates among youth with disabilities while also increasing the number of young entrepreneurs with disabilities and the number of accessible businesses.

Taejha Young is the founder of Renewabli Waste Solutions, a social venture that aims to create consumer-based waste disposal solutions that are both zero-waste and climate-neutral as a means of up-cycling household food waste into energy.

Joining the incubator

The 2022-2023 incubator cohort includes:

  • Corner Broken Spoke Bicycle Co-operative (founder: Kellyann Henderson) provides the community with affordable cycling options and knowledge. By working to promote cycling as a viable alternative to car culture, rather than a recreational activity used in conjunction with cars, with the goal of changing the community landscapes towards a more sustainable future.
  • ReClaim Community CDO (founders: Hillary King and Wendy Reid Fairhurst) supports non-profits, social enterprises, community-led groups and individuals with great ideas to realize their visions for enacting change at a local, place-based level. They believe in the power of open-source knowledge sharing, doing business differently, using the resources and assets at hand, and being creative and innovative in the pursuit of developing affordable housing.
  • Rolle Equity Publishing (founder: Chanel Rolle) has a mission to increase the representation of BIPOC and multicultural classical music by making it more accessible and creating more visibility for BIPOC artists. Rolle Equity Publishing will transcribe all compositions and publish them in an anthology.
  • Roots and Wings Seafood (founders: Lillian Saul and Nova Almine) will enhance the viability of small-scale fisheries by expanding local market capacity for cod, an under-utilized fish species that is also quintessential to this province’s history and character. Roots and Wings will operate out of the Bonavista and Avalon peninsulas and connect small-scale fishers to local markets through branding, packaging and distributing salted cod to tourists, restaurants, convenience stores, hotels and local consumers.
  • Seed to Spoon Farm (founders: Adam Grevatt and Sarah Crocker) has a mission to strengthen economic and social resilience in Newfoundland and Labrador through responsible agricultural and business practices. It aims to create an economic engine that removes barriers to seasonal, nutritious foods and promotes an ecologically sustainable food system.
  • Jessie Donaldson Art (Farm) (founder: Jessie Donaldson) will provide opportunities for physical and mental well-being through creative activities outdoors and inside.  This will start from a grassroots state of mind with lessons and workshops that down the road will evolve into an art farm.

Getting down to business

Following the induction celebration, the new cohort took part in the incubator’s first kick-off training weekend.

They participated in training and workshops on topics ranging from what is a social venture, business canvas planning and social impact strategy. Guest speakers included Colin Corcoran (Genesis), Dr. Alex Stewart (Memorial’s Faculty of Business Administration), Dr. Brennan Lowry (Memorial’s Environmental Policy Institute, Grenfell Campus) and Chelsey MacNeil (Choices for Youth).

Over the next year, the cohort will participate in a variety of training programs designed to support the growth and development of their social ventures. The incubator also provides start-up funding and one-on-one mentorship with a business advisor from the local social enterprise ecosystem.

Applications for the next incubator cohort will open in December 2022.

Applicants must be current Memorial students or have graduated from Memorial within six months prior to the application submission. Questions may be directed to socialenterprise@mun.ca.