On Thursday, July 9th, Startup Zone launched its first-ever Social Enterprise Accelerator cohort!

Created by Operations Manager Erin Robar who is heavily involved in the nonprofit industry herself (holding board positions with groups such as the Charlottetown Film Society), the cohort will be led by Startup Zone’s Business Development and Branding Specialist, Dee Enright.

The six companies involved, whether they’re for-profit or non-profit, are centered around a social objective. They will all be participating in our Accelerator sessions each week for the next 8 weeks, where they will be taking part in goal-setting sessions for accountability, and hearing from specialists in a different area of focus each week.

Get to know the cohort!

Empower PEI (Founder: Ashley Green)

Empower PEI is “a kick-ass online hub for local like-minded business owners to seek advice, share info and ideas, as well as build each other up, nurturing a strong community of business leaders in PEI”. Operating an extremely active Facebook group with over 1000 members, Empower PEI is redefining traditional networking in PEI. Ashley and the other group moderators (including board member Julie Ann Gauthier who is joining us in the cohort) go out of their way each day to ensure that everyone feels welcome in their group. Empower PEI is a space for those who are uncomfortable in traditional networking, underrepresented in certain business communities, new to PEI, and so much more. With an attitude that fosters collaboration over competition, Ashley and her team have brought waves of positive change to PEI’s business community. Ashley is also the founder of Ashley Green Design, and Local Legends Apparel.

ADHD PEI (Founder: Sandy Slade)

Simply put, ADHD PEI’s vision is “to be a network of support and advocacy for Islanders with ADHD and their loved ones. As a registered social worker and an all-around do-gooder, Sandy Slade’s life has been one full of advocacy work (working frequently with homeless folk, and those impacted by mental health struggles in a variety of ways). As someone who lives with ADHD himself, he saw gaps in the province of PEI in terms of the resources available for adults living with ADHD. Currently, ADHD PEI offers weekly peer support group meetings, delivers monthly newsletters with resources, and is currently in the process of launching a parent group for parents of kids living with ADHD.

Red Island Assist (Founder: Christine Thomas)

After learning that PEI’s child poverty rate stands at 17.4%, Christine Thomas created Red Island Assist “to create a program that could provide supplies throughout the school year to students ( school and personal care supplies), so educators have one less thing to worry about”. The starting project for Red Island Assist is to create a system where teachers can advocate for kids who they worry may not have the supplies they need, whether it be school supplies, hygiene products, etc. This confidential system would give students the confidence they need to be able to focus on their studies, no matter what their home life is like. Currently pursuing her master’s degree in counseling from McMaster University, Christine intends to focus her studies on addictions.

Atlantic Student Development Alliance (Founder: Daniel Ohaegbu)

Daniel Ohaegbu moved to PEI from Nigeria to attend UPEI, where he did his honors thesis in Psychology. Upon graduating, he became involved in a variety of entrepreneurial ventures to advocate for marginalized voices on university campuses, inspired by acts of racism that he and his peers experienced in Canada. After co-founding Overtime Entertainment, and while working on MICC Financial with his friend Jonah Chininga, Daniel is now focusing his attention on Atlantic Student Development Alliance – a nonprofit working to provide support, resources, and connections for students. “ASDA will aim to provide them with like-minded coaches and mentors to ensure they’re well-equipped with the right tools to enter the labour market upon graduation”. Daniel is currently working on nonprofit registration, and doing intensive market research with various employers. In his free time, Daniel also works on the board for PEI’s Black Cultural Society.

Au Naturel Solutions (Founder: Simonne Cormier)

At the age of 51, Simonne Cormier was diagnosed with breast cancer. After receiving a lumpectomy and bouts of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, she has been cancer-free for four years. With her new look on life, Simonne took it upon herself to embark on a journey that would make a significant and positive difference for other self-identifying women in her shoes. After dealing with breast symmetry and body confidence issues, Simonne noticed a huge barrier in which the only products available to her in the market were silicone or polyester, and there was no natural alternative. Upon winning the 2019 Ignition Fund (a $25,000 grant), she began working on a hypoallergenic and completely natural alternative, for which she just received her patent! With a motto of “comfort builds confidence”, Simonne is embarking on this journey to bring confidence to breast cancer survivors, transgender folk going through body transitioning, and anyone dealing with breast asymmetry or body image issues.

Tvaag (Founder: Meghal Vijayan)

When Meghal Vijayan moved to PEI having studied engineering in India and the UK, he decided he wanted a career change. He wanted to make a social impact, and bring a fashion product to the market that would make a positive impact, an alternative to what he had seen in the fast fashion industry. Tvaag is a vegan athleisure company currently producing leggings made with plant-based fabrics and infused with plant-based dyes. Focused on community empowerment, Tvaag’s “business practices are 100% Ethical and Fair-Trade, thereby abandoning sweatshop work culture. (They) are inherently supportive of empowering women with the right to fair wages in the workplace.”

Learn more about Startup Zone’s programming at the link below: