Impact Entrepreneurs Pitch Ventures at SEG’s Impact Business Showcase

July 14th, 2023

Edesia’s Executive Director and Newport Mayor Address Impact Accelerator Graduates and Call for Sustained Focus Across Rhode Island on Social Enterprise and Inclusive Entrepreneurship 

PROVIDENCE, RI – Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG), the state’s leading network of business support for social impact entrepreneurs, celebrated the nine graduates of the latest Impact Accelerator cohort with a marquee pitch event that included remarks from Edesia Executive Director Maria Kasparia, Newport Mayor Xay Khamsyvoravong, and Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Liz Tanner. The nine recent Impact Accelerator graduates pitched their ventures to potential investors and the public, and more than three dozen impact entrepreneurs from other SEG programs staffed demonstration tables to highlight their ventures and growth. 

The Impact Accelerator is one of SEG’s four entrepreneurial programs and bolsters established, revenue-generating ventures. This cohort of Impact Accelerator graduates included an innovative delivery model for mental health treatment, a zero-waste oral care company, and an individualized-affordable healthcare initiative

“If Rhode Island’s and Southern New England’s economies are going to truly thrive, we need to ensure that we are fully supporting entrepreneurs and business owners who are focused on making a social impact,” said Social Enterprise Greenhouse CEO Julie Owens. “Our Impact Accelerator graduates are creating jobs, building wealth, and investing in local communities. As importantly, they’re laying a foundation for broader growth and future entrepreneurs.”

Graduates also heard from Maria Kasparian, executive director of Edesia. Edesia is a model of best practice for social impact ventures. Founded by Navyn Salem as a non-profit, social enterprise, Edesia makes life-saving, ready-to-use foods that address a crisis of global malnutrition. The Rhode Island-based venture has nourished more than 20 million children in more than 60 countries and has partnered with UNICEF, WFP, USAID. 

“…” said Maria Kasparian, Executive Director of Edesia

Since its start, SEG has grown a portfolio of more than 600 businesses and nonprofits creating positive social impact through improvements in access to educational opportunities, training and employment, healthcare, financial services, healthy food, basic human needs, affordable housing, and a safe and healthy environment. 

The Impact Accelerator is one of four tentpole programs SEG offers, each focusing on specific areas depending on the need, and skill level of the participant. The Accelerator provides support and resources to high-potential social ventures that have already generated revenue and helps guide entrepreneurs who are ready to take their venture to the next level. As part of its mission SEG seeks to accelerate impact by providing inclusive support and networks for entrepreneurs and businesses committed to positive societal and economic change, with the goal of creating a more just, equitable, and resilient economy achieved through social purpose business. 

“Creating an economy rooted in inclusivity and equity ensures that everyone has a level playing field to innovate and excel. In doing this, we’re laying a strong foundation for long-term success and prosperity,” said Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Liz Tanner. “By breaking down barriers and encouraging diversity in our business sector, we unlock an enormous reservoir of talent and ideas. The new SEG Program graduates are catalysts, driving our communities and economy towards a brighter future.”

Through strategic partnerships across Newport, outreach efforts, and technical assistance, SEG places budding social entrepreneurs into its core programs that are offered virtually. In 2022, SEG served over 20 social entrepreneurs in Newport/ Aquidneck Island to ensure they have access to the resources, tools, and networks they need to be successful. 

“..” said Xaykham (Xay) Khamsyvoravong, Mayor of Newport

SEG was one of the first incubation and accelerator organizations in the country to focus on social impact as a pathway to create opportunities, especially for those entrepreneurs and businesses that traditionally face barriers to access. Since launching, the Accelerator has provided 244 social entrepreneurs with the tools, networks, and resources to grow their business and impact. Additionally SEG has loaned $237,500 in growth capital to Rhode Island social enterprises through their loan fund, improving the lives of over 5 million people. 

About Social Enterprise Greenhouse: 

Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG) accelerates impact by providing inclusive support and networks for entrepreneurs and businesses committed to positive societal and economic change. SEG fosters an ecosystem of diverse stakeholders who work to enable a more just, equitable, and resilient economy. SEG is based in Rhode Island and operates statewide virtually and from sites in Providence, Newport, and Pawtucket/Central Falls. Its network of 2,000+ enterprises and 200+ business and community leaders contributes time, expertise, and funding to grow Rhode Island’s social impact ecosystem. To learn more, visit


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