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‘Inspirational location’

Social Changemaker Space to cultivate generation of socially inspired leaders

By Susan White

Memorial University has a new space to foster social entrepreneurship and social innovation at its St. John’s campus.

The Social Changemaker Space is the new home of the Centre for Social Enterprise (CSE), located on the fourth floor of the Faculty of Business Administration.

“This dynamic new space will enable the Centre for Social Enterprise and Memorial to grow our leadership in the social enterprise and social innovation sector,” said Lisa Browne, Memorial’s vice-president (advancement and external relations). “In addition to nurturing the next generation of social innovators and entrepreneurs, the Social Changemaker Space provides an inspirational location for student innovators and community leaders to collaborate for positive social change.”

Nurturing students’ creativity

The CSE’s newly renovated home includes private meeting rooms, office space and co-working areas.

A group of people are standing and networking in an open space with a white ceiling and blue chairs on the right-hand side of the photo.
The grand opening of the Social Changemaker Space was held on Sept. 26 on the fourth floor of the Business building.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

In addition to providing a location from which the CSE will host events and deliver programming, the Social Changemaker Space also houses the Social Ventures Incubator.

Nancy Leung, a second-year master of business administration (MBA) student, is a member of the current incubator cohort.

She says the space is “wonderful to see.”

“It’s professional and encourages communication between people.”

Nancy Leung, a yellow woman in her early 20s, leans one arm on the back of a bright blue seat in a collaborative work space. She has long brown hair.
Nancy Leung is a member of the Social Ventures Incubator, run by the Centre for Social Enterprise.
Photo: Susan White

Ms. Leung got the idea for her social venture, Simply Wedding N.L., during her coursework last winter.

She wants to encourage more environmentally friendly and economical weddings by recycling used wedding decorations.

“The team is super supportive and encouraging to student entrepreneurs like me.” — Nancy Leung

One recent project repurposed leftover flower arrangements as a gift for long-term care facilities.

Ms. Leung uses the Social Changemaker Space for meetings and brainstorming.

“It was inspiring to see Memorial having a dedicated team providing support to nurture students’ social enterprises. The team is super supportive and encouraging to student entrepreneurs like me.”

Unique foundation

The CSE was founded in 2016 as a unique collaboration between the business faculty and the schools of Social Work and Music.

Its purpose is to enhance the quality of human experience through social enterprise and social innovation.

“This space has enormous potential to stimulate transformative ideas.” — Dr. Gillian Morrissey

It strives to nurture social entrepreneurs, strengthen social enterprises and drive social innovation at Memorial and throughout the province.

Dr. Gillian Morrissey, the centre’s acting manager, says launching the Social Changemaker Space is an important milestone for the centre.

“It allows us to connect more broadly with the social enterprise community by providing a much-needed collaborative space and empowers community members, researchers and students to connect and champion meaningful change,” she said. “This space has enormous potential to stimulate transformative ideas. I’m excited to see our momentum in this sector continue to grow.”

Kim Todd, founder of Guide to the Good, is one of CSE’s community partners.

“It has a positive vibe of ‘good things happening here.'” — Kim Todd

She used the Social Changemaker Space to hold interviews when she was hiring a graduate student for CSE’s Work Experience in Social Enterprise program.

“It was perfect,” she said. “The space is beautiful and inviting and very well laid out with interesting space to work in. It has a positive vibe of ‘good things happening here.’ I’m looking forward to spending more time in the space.”

Community impact

The CSE was one of eight leading community organizations to form the Newfoundland and Labrador Social Enterprise and Innovation Coalition in 2022.

In 2023 the centre received a Social Procurement Champion Award from Buy Social Canada, a national organization that aims to redefine how goods and services are bought and sold through social procurement advocacy, education and consulting.

The CSE is funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the Department of Industry, Energy and Technology, the Suncor Energy Foundation, the Fry Family Foundation, Emera and private donors.


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