Incubator celebrates outgoing grads, welcomes new cohort

Oct 24th, 2023

Sarah Croft

Four social ventures from the 2022-23 cohort graduated from the Social Ventures Incubator during a celebration recently at the Fluvarium.

The Centre for Social Enterprise (CSE) also welcomed six new social ventures into its 2023-24 cohort.

Two additional student-led social ventures were accepted at a later date, bringing the total number for the new cohort to eight social enterprises.

The incubator was previously open to current students at Memorial University but the eligibility criteria has expanded to include recent alumni within the past 12 months.

“Opening the Social Ventures Incubator to recent alumni allows for more engagement and collaboration with individuals who recently completed their academic studies,” said Dr. Gillian Morrissey, the centre’s acting manager. “It allows us to work with social entrepreneurs who are ready and eager to move fully into developing their social ventures.”

The graduates

Four students standing with incubator plaquesGraduating social ventures include:  Jessie Donaldson Art, Museful Teaching Resources, ReClaim Community CDO and Roots and Wings Fish Co.

Throughout the one-year term, the group completed a six-week course on human centred design led by Wendy Reid Fairhurst (MBA-SEE’20) and participated in a strategic planning workshop with retired Faculty of Business Administration professor, Lynn Morrissey.

The CSE, in partnership with the Centre for Social Innovation at the University of Cambridge, also offered multiple trainings on topics such as developing a business model, sales, business planning, social financing, funding, scaling and more, all through the lens of social enterprise.   

“Being part of a program that highlights the need for social entrepreneurship has been such an influential process,” said Hillary King (B.Comm.(Co-op.) & B.A. '20), co-founder of ReClaim Community CDO. “Getting connected to a network of passionate people who are looking to create change has helped us explore new ideas and collaborations as well as learn from others' expertise.”

The ventures also received business advisor support from Carolann Harding, chief executive officer of SmartICE, Doug Pawson, executive director of End Homelessness St. John’s and Courtney Rowsell, manager and community liaison of TaskforceNL.

“Having access to direct one-on-one mentorship allowed us to get real, impactful advice on setting up our business with a solid foundation and governance structure. This has helped us expand our board and keep up-to-date with the requirements needed to successfully run a non-profit,” said Ms. King.

About the graduates

Jessie Donaldson is the founder of Jessie Donaldson Art, an art farm that provides locals and tourists a place to slow down for general well-being. The art farm is a place to reconnect with tried and true ways of growing, preparing and preserving local food, and a place to experience art through lessons and workshops or through observing sculptures, drawings and paintings, both outdoors and within the gallery. 

Chanel Rolle is the founder of Museful Teaching Resources, a music education resource company. This venture seeks to help increase the representation of BIPOC musicians and multicultural classical music by making it more accessible to broader audiences.

Ms. King and Ms. Reid Fairhurst are the co-founders of ReClaim Community CDO, which aims to support non-profits, social enterprises, community-led groups and individuals with great ideas to realize their visions towards 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.

Lillian Saul and Nova Almine are the co-founders of Roots and Wings Fish Co., a social venture that enhances the viability of Newfoundland small-scale fisheries by expanding local market capacity for cod, an under-utilized fish species that’s quintessential to this province’s history and character.

Joining the incubator

The CSE is pleased to welcome the following ventures and student-entrepreneurs to our 2023-24 incubator cohort:

  • AbbaTek Group Inc. (Abdul-Latif Alhassan): a for-profit social enterprise that develops proprietary and open-source software and open data solutions to make better decisions about water and the environment in general.

  • Pattern Therapy Group (Heather Kere Quelleng) provides therapeutic services that centre the experiences of Black and racialized people. Inaugural services will include therapy for individuals with specialties such as therapy for Black Women, caregivers, people experiencing burnout and second generation Canadians.

  • Simply Wedding N.L. (Ka (Nancy) Yan Leung) aims to make weddings accessible for couples with different financial backgrounds, and ultimately restore the interest and confidence for young couples to arrange weddings and share the joy with their family and friends.
  • Annex Consulting (Hope Jamieson and Leslie Bradshaw) serves as a repository of knowledge for non-profits looking to grow their impact and sustainability, businesses interested in being more socially responsible, and affordable housing providers seeking to develop new projects or better manage existing portfolios.

  • Common Place (Antonia Francis and Dane Woodland) supports physical, mental and social well-being for adults in equity-deserving groups by providing a dedicated co-working and community space with inclusion-forward business practices. Amenities will include group exercise and intentional social connection through workshops and events.

  • East & Nowhere Songsmiths (Justin Layden) is a multi-faceted music venture, focused producing carefully crafted songs that celebrate storytelling. It aims to work with musicians of all levels of experience, and give a voice to those who may not have the know-how or the means to record a song on their own.

  • Twisted Tuckamore Arts and Land-Based Education (Tara Cashen and Sampson Vassallo) is a forest school offering affordable and cross-cultural learning on the land. It provides creative outlets to develop food skills, emotional resilience and ecological literacy.
  • NE1 Sports (Trevor Blackler) seeks to make hockey more affordable and accessible and to make an impact in social integration of new Canadians, low-income families and other marginalized communities through the sport of hockey. At the individual level, this venture will create a positive impact in participant mental, physical and emotional health.

Over the summer, the ventures received workshops and training focused specifically on early stage preparations, innovation and ideation.

This fall, they are undertaking the human-centred design course ran by Ms. Reid Fairhurst and in the winter, they’ll primarily focus on industry specific topics such as legal, marketing and social finance.

The CSE recently moved into its new Social Changemaker Space in the Business Administration Building at Memorial University, providing open-space, collaborative opportunities for students and community members. Social entrepreneurs may access the space to work on their ventures and hold team meetings.

Applications for the next cohort of the Social Ventures Incubator will open in January 2024.