Ideas Start, Develop, and Grow Here: Howard Armitage talks social entrepreneurship


St. Paul’s University College GreenHouse program has redefined academia-laden perceptions of entrepreneurship. The department held Social Entrepreneurship Fest, with the faculty of environment’s international development program, in UW March 31.

“Waterloo is one of the flagship universities in entrepreneurship [and our goal is to] become one of the leading innovation universities in the world” said Howard Armitage, special advisor to the president on entrepreneurship and opening speaker at the event.

GreenHouse promotes the pursuit of innovative, enterprising solutions to complex social and environmental problems, and aims to place social entrepreneurship within the wider innovation and entrepreneurship movement on campus.

“This is an important mandate and we hope for traction on campus, through other faculties as well,” said Andre Roy, dean of environment.

This program pushes the boundaries of a student’s academic perception. More than a pupil in a classroom, students are learning ways to utilize academic knowledge, becoming “agents of change” within a wider scope of academic university life and within social spheres regionally, provincially, and internationally.

Imprint sat down with Armitage after the event to discuss how social entrepreneurship at GreenHouse fits within the university and the wider business world.

“While we have so far reached staggering achievement, we are punching above our weight; we want to see continued growth in this particular area,” Armitage said. “I think we will see social entrepreneurship as a very solid third element to the entrepreneurship endeavours at the University of Waterloo.” 

The diction of traditional entrepreneurship has expanded to include terms such as “social innovation” and “social entrepreneurship” reflecting passionate study and the deliverance of meaningful impact.

“Our students are becoming active leaders in the region, on the international scene and have the opportunity and potential to lead to profound change,” Roy said.