• Entrepreneurship

Futurpreneur’s Impact in Action: Young Entrepreneurs Shine on Parliament Hill

Celestine Fakoube | September 29, 2023

On September 18, we brought together an extraordinary group of diverse young entrepreneurs from across the country to spend the day with us at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. We did this to celebrate the resilience and success of Futurpreneur-supported entrepreneurs across Canada amid Parliament’s return for the fall session. Our Hill Day culminated with the ‘Welcome Back to Ottawa’ Reception where members of Parliament (MPs), government representatives, partners and staff connected with our Futurpreneurs. The evening was a testament to the vibrancy of Canada’s entrepreneurial spirit and the impact of Futurpreneurs in their communities across the country.

Standing: Mary Oliveira, Alex Carnio, Margarettha Pierre, Jon Piett, Sean Rayland-Boubar, Sheena Brady
Sitting: Nicholas LaValle, Debbie Shing, Elizabeth Mok, Christopher Mack
Photo by Thierry Sanon

Meeting Trailblazing Futurpreneurs

Our day began with an opportunity for our young entrepreneurs to connect with our team, including Futurpreneur senior leadership— exchanging insights and engaging with each other. Energized by these conversations, everyone embarked on a journey to the tour of Parliament that included a 360° multimedia exhibit offering a glimpse of the sections of the building currently under renovation.

Our day began with an opportunity for our young entrepreneurs to connect with our team, including Futurpreneur senior leadership— exchanging insights and engaging with each other. Energized by these conversations, everyone embarked on a journey to the tour of Parliament that included a 360° multimedia exhibit offering a glimpse of the sections of the building currently under renovation.

Parliament’s Shoutout to Futurpreneur

One of the highlights of our Hill Day experience was our visit to the House of Commons for Question Period. It was here that MP Darren Fisher gave a heartfelt shoutout to Futurpreneur, emphasizing our vital role in supporting young entrepreneurs and recognizing the profound influence we’ve had on fostering inclusive economic prosperity across Canada. We were honoured to be recognized by MP Fisher as well as many of our elected officials who work tirelessly with us to make a positive impact in our communities. 

MP Fisher also recognized one of our Futurpreneurs based in his riding: Nicholas LaValle, the founder of Clean Valley CIC. His innovative work in clean technology and biofiltration earned him well-deserved recognition from those in attendance in the House.

A Showcase of Ambition and Innovation

As we kicked off our Hill Day Reception at the Wellington Building, hosted by The Honourable Rechie Valdez, Minister of Small Business and The Honourable Minister Mary Ng, Minister of Export Promotion, International Trade and Economic Development, the spotlight continued to shine on the incredible entrepreneurs who joined us in Ottawa. They shared their inspiring stories and the fruits of their labour with policymakers, providing a captivating glimpse into the remarkable businesses they’ve built.  

MPs and staffers attending the reception engaged with entrepreneurs, delving deeper into their journeys to success. They also learned about how Futurpreneur played a pivotal role in supporting these entrepreneurs during the critical early stages of their businesses, from inception to overcoming the challenges of startup life. 

The evening was an interactive experience as attendees had the pleasure of learning about and savouring products from these dynamic businesses, each offering a unique flavour of innovation. Among the offerings were:

  • Fine Chocolates: Mary Oliveira, from Toronto, the founder of Mary’s Brigadeiro, treated our taste buds with exquisite Brazilian chocolates.
  • Decadent Ice Cream: Elizabeth Sin Yung Mok, the creative mind behind Ottawa’s Moo Shu Ice Cream, introduced us to her imaginative flavours.
  • Artisanal Tea Blends: Sheena Brady, the entrepreneur behind Ottawa-based Tease, invited attendees to explore her curated wellness tea blends.
  • Fine Wines: Debbie Shing, founder of Toronto-based Quvé, showcased the flavours of her fine wines, a testament to her passion for viticulture.
  • Urban Streetwear: Sean Rayland, the founder of Red Rebel Armour, brought a touch of urban fashion to the event, sharing his Winnipeg-based company’s social mission to create employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated Indigenous people to help them transform their lives for the better.
  • Innovative Sleep Solutions: Jon Piett, from Saskatoon, the visionary behind LOTUS, presented his sleep company, demonstrating how innovation can contribute to a good night’s sleep.
  • Clean Energy: Nicholas LaValle, the founder of Clean Valley CIC, based in Dartmouth, introduced the audience to his clean energy solutions, emphasizing the importance of sustainability.
  • Healthcare Innovation: Margarettha Pierre, the founder of KnowMediQ, based in Montréal, unveiled her one-stop-shop for personalized healthcare services, promising a brighter future for the industry.

Celebrating Young Entrepreneurs

Karen Greve Young. Photo by Thierry Sanon.

Our evening unfolded with a series of truly inspirational speeches. Karen Greve Young, CEO of Futurpreneur, expressed her gratitude to longstanding partners including the Government of Canada, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), and spoke passionately about the achievements of our young entrepreneurs across Canada. 

Minister of Small Business, Rechie Valdez, an entrepreneur herself, commended the impact of Futurpreneur on Canada’s economy. During her address, she emphasized the importance of supporting young entrepreneurs as a catalyst for driving economic growth.

Joanna Griffiths. Photo by Thierry Sanon.

Joanna Griffiths, Founder and President of Knix embarked on her entrepreneurial journey with the support of Futurpreneur and has since become a dedicated member of the Futurpreneur Board. During her inspiring address, she candidly shared her personal experience and praised the exceptional level of care and commitment that sets Futurpreneur apart.  

Joanna remarked, “There really is nothing like Futurpreneur in Canada. Part of the reason why I wanted to join the board was to give back all the help and support that I received. In my opinion, there’s no better way to have an impact on entrepreneurship in this country than by partnering with Futurpreneur.”

Making a Difference

The evening also featured inspiring messages from the leaders of Futurpreneur’s tailored loan & mentorship programs: Black Entrepreneur Startup Program and Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program

Holly Atjecoutay and Mona-Lisa Prosper. Photo by Thierry Sanon.

Mona-Lisa Prosper, Director of the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program (BESP) highlighted Futurpreneur’s commitment to addressing the specific barriers faced by Black entrepreneurs in Canada. She explained, “We have adapted our core offering by being more inclusive in regard to credit, and we also provide follow-on financing, to help entrepreneurs start and scale their businesses.” 

Holly Atjecoutay, Director of the Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program (IESP) emphasized Futurpreneur’s deep respect for and understanding of Indigenous voices and their remarkable resilience. Holly noted, “One major element that sets Futurpreneur apart is that we’re one of the only organizations in this country that offers on-reserve lending within our ecosystem.” She also highlighted how this program is driven by collaboration, co-creation and representation of the vast and diverse Indigenous population across Canada. 

Attendees experienced a firsthand glimpse into the impact of the IESP through a short documentary highlighting Sean Rayland-Boubar’s transformative journey within our program.

Empowering Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Futurpreneur’s Hill Day Reception went beyond celebrating the success of young entrepreneurs. It was our moment to illuminate the vital role of Federal Government investment in empowering Futurpreneur’s work to shape a more inclusive and prosperous economy for young entrepreneurs nationwide. The Government of Canada’s longstanding commitment has been instrumental in enabling Futurpreneur to reach more diverse young entrepreneurs, equipping them with the money, mentorship and tools they need to start and succeed. 

We are grateful for all who attended, and we are moved by the overwhelming response to this event, both in person and online. Here are some of the wonderful posts that beautifully capture the essence of our Hill Day experience: