St. Paul's GreenHouse

Spring 2017

Quantifying the impact of the Social Impact Fund

St. Paul’s GreenHouse launched the Social Impact Fund in Fall 2014 to provide early-stage funding for high-potential social-purpose ventures and, in some cases, smaller amounts for students to complete initial research on an identified problem.

In less than three years, 35 grants totalling approximately $50,000 have been provided by the Fund. Of the 27 student founders who have received this support, 17 are still pursuing their ventures either full- or part-time. Impressively, Fund recipients have gone on to secure an additional $350,000 of venture funding and $250,000 of in-kind support. 

Where are they now? Catching up with five previous winners of the fund

Christina Hassan (Marchand)

GreenHouse alumni meet for dinner in Calgary Co-founder of FullSoul Canada, a Calgary-based not-for-profit that equips hospitals in Uganda with medical supplies.

FullSoul now has three paid staff in Uganda and 14 volunteer staff in Canada. Through the deployment of medical kits, as many as 65,000 babies will be delivered more safely in Uganda.

Christina completed a Masters in Public Health and is currently studying Law at the University of Calgary. This summer she will complete an International Development and Diplomacy Internship with the United Nations Association of Canada, during which her focus will be on human trafficking in Southeast Asia.

As it continues to grow and mature, Christina expects FullSoul to focus on assisting Ugandan hospitals with medical infrastructure. 

Trishala Pillai

Trishala Pillai Co-founder the Dialogue Xchange, a community-powered forum for engaged dialogue and inspired action.

Trishala completed her studies at UWaterloo and has gone on to employment with Shopify Plus, an enterprise e-commerce software platform – but she continues to work on the Dialogue Xchange with her co-founder Pragya Dawadi.

In March, Trishala was selected as one of six inaugural recipients of the Venture for Canada RBC Social Enterprise Fellowship.

Zied Etleb, Moazam Khan, and Matthew Sefati

Three Curiato co-founders display their productCo-founders of Curiato, a healthcare technology startup that is developing a variable pressure redistribution mattress and pressure injury management software to help patients and medical professionals better manage bedsores.

The team won $25,000 in the Velocity Fund Finals in Fall 2016, and more recently, secured $60,000 in JumpStart funding from the Accelerator Centre. They were also named top Canadian team in the business plan segment of the Stu Clark Investment competition hosted by the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba.

Richard Yim

Richard YimCo-founder The Landmine Boys (now Demine Robotics), a tech startup that has developed robotic solutions to safely excavate and deactivate land mines without the need for human intervention.

Richard is currently completing the Master in Business Entrepreneurship and Technology program and continues to achieve success with his team. The Landmine Boys have successfully tested two prototypes on landmine components in Cambodia and have recently secured $25,000 in new funding after winning first place in the fifth annual Canada’s Business Model Competition. The Landmine Boys beat out 80 teams from 25 universities across Canada and secured the right to pitch in the international competition in Mountainview California in May. 

Rachel Thompson 

Rachel Thompson reads with her grandmotherFounder of Marlena Books, a startup that is developing special books and therapeutic recreation products for adults with dementia.

Marlena Books now has five titles available for sale online and is working furiously to fill orders that have come in since being featured in news stories on both CBC and CTV. Rachel most recently won $25,000 in the Velocity Fund Finals competition, and has plans to create a customizable e-reading platform to connect readers, family members and caregivers. 

Social Impact Fund recipients for Winter and Spring 2017

Michael Wideman, Eggplantr

Michael’s venture will make it easier to grow food gardens using a digital tool to generate and print permaculture planting layouts on biodegradable weed barriers. He will be using the funding to incorporate his business and build and test his prototype.

Bailey Jacobs, Green2Green

Bailey is developing a platform to make it easy for home renovation contractors to access government incentives for environmental retrofits. She will be hiring UWaterloo students to design and build a wireframe for her application with this funding.

Pragya Dawadi, The Dialogue Xchange

Pragya’s work fosters engaging dialogue on pertinent social issues, such as gender equity and mental health. She will use the funds to pilot Dialogue Xchange events in Guelph, Waterloo, and Ottawa.

Nicole Yang, rePublic

Nicole aims to create more engaging public spaces through interactive art installations paired with an app.

Anna Chang, Midori

Anna’s venture, Midori, will investigate how to alleviate textile waste by repurposing used textiles into eco-friendly clothing.

Big Ideas Challenge winners announced

The Big Ideas Challenge is a social venture competition, with winners receiving GreenHouse Fellowships during the summer months. This year, five social enterprises received Fellowships totalling $9,500 and the possibility of accessing $15,000 more through the Social Impact Fund.

They are:

MapleKey, a modular sleeping pod service

Soleful, a technology to reduce falls among older adults

Cultured, a plant-based approach to culturing meat

SEED, an innovative approach to burial

Arawelo, a cross-cultural women’s health platform.

Learn more at -- and if you think can be helpful to any of these ventures, please get in touch. GreenHouse students are always looking for industry contacts, market intelligence, and mentors.