Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G6
For the past five years, the Epp Peace Incubator at Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement has helped more than a dozen ventures leverage supports available in the Waterloo Region innovation ecosystem. With a unique focus on peace entrepreneurship, the Centre’s Incubator program provides support and mentorship to ventures seeking to advance peace locally and globally.
The Centre welcomed three new ventures to its Incubator program this September, all of whom are dedicated to applying creative solutions to real, complex social problems.
Maison Verte is a social enterprise working toward improving food security and sustainability in Waterloo region and beyond. Founded by Waterloo alumni Anam Rahman and Divya Sarin, Maison Verte has been building momentum through public workshops and innovative projects with community partners that focus on urban farming. Maison Verte is built on the pillars of education, community, and research, with research being the primary purpose of the venture’s involvement with the Centre. Maison Verte is currently working on developing a network of support for farmers, using digital platforms to create an avenue for mentorship and collaboration. The Centre was recommended to Rahman and Sarin by various community members for the comprehensive support it offers to local start-ups. “We’re excited to be a part of a Waterloo-based program that offers us mentorship beyond just business coaching," says Rahman. "It offers holistic support that speaks to our goal of making a social impact."
ESG Tree, a start-up that provides organizations with a way to monitor their environmental, social, governance (ESG) data and performance, also joins the Centre this Fall. ESG Tree is a service platform that serves investors and their needs, carving out a new segment of the market. Majid Mirza, the founder and CEO of this enterprise, is a Ph.D. student in the Faculty of Environment with research interests in private capital markets and sustainable development. ESG Tree has garnered much attention recently, grabbing first place in Concept’s 2020 Graduate Student Startup Fund competition and participating in Velocity’s incubator program. With over ten years of experience as a project manager and consultant in the sustainability and ESG management fields, Majid is excited to be involved in a program found at the intersection of his passions: social impact, technology, and business. “The Centre will provide grounding and depth to ESG Tree, providing a rounded out, unique type of support,” Mirza affirms. “On top of our commercially driven objectives, there is strong tie in with our values such as peace and social justice, which shapes ESG Tree’s long term objectives.”
Lastly, BWT Consulting aims to investigate the models used to support innovation in Ontario’s public sector. Spearheaded by St. Paul University College Greenhouse’s Program Manager and Startup Coach Brendan Wylie-Toal, this initiative arose out of his involvement in GreenHouse’s Workplace Innovation program, seeing the model’s applicability in a wider context. Wylie-Toal will be conducting an “Open Innovation in Healthcare” research project, focused on understanding if and how the public sector is developing a more enterprising, innovation mindset. This project will involve analyzing the strategies of organizations such as KidsAbility, Schlegel Villages, and Grand-River Hospital. His research has been made possible by Mitacs Accelerate Entrepreneur funding, which connects graduate students with an approved incubator such as the Centre—the first Mitacs approved social impact incubator in Canada—to advance their studies and their start-up. With extensive experience in research and innovation management, as well the environmental and start-up services industries, Wylie-Toal saw connecting with the Epp Peace Incubator to be a natural choice: “GreenHouse and the Centre have closely aligned values and roles within the Waterloo region social innovation ecosystem. Not only can the Centre support my research in its learning and understanding stages, but also in its application stages as I look to implement my findings and engage with new partners.”
Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well at the University of Waterloo. Even at a distance, the Centre is committed to continuing to help connect ventures with social innovation tools, “thinking and working politically” expertise, and PeaceTech prowess. The Epp Peace Incubator program’s community, mentorship, and funding opportunites provide fertile soil for innovative ideas to grow into impactful ventures that advance peace.
Do you have venture or idea that would benefit from the the Epp Peace Incubator program? Email Centre Coordinator Michelle Jackett at firstname.lastname@example.org to start the conversation.