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4 Entrepreneurs Awarded Catalyzing Grants at TEF Pitch Competition

On Tuesday, December 11, six emerging social entrepreneurs pitched their early-stage business ideas to a panel of expert judges at TEF’s pitch competition, each seeking to secure up to $10,000 to further develop their idea.

The Pitch Competition was the culminating event in TEF’s fall ESE Idea Accelerator program, which supported a cohort of 25 individuals and organizations to develop early-stage employment social enterprise ideas. Employment social enterprises are businesses, that create employment opportunities for people facing barriers to the labour market, including newcomers, people with disabilities, and people who have had engagement with the justice system.

On Tuesday evening, four of six entrepreneurs were selected to receive ‘Catalyzing Grants” – grants of $5,000 – 10,000 to complete a feasibility study and business plan to further develop their employment social enterprises.

Winning entrepreneurs included:

  • Christine McGlade, an independent entrepreneur who pitched TransAction, a digital marketing agency that will employ transgender people facing barriers to the labour market. The employment social enterprise aims to provide both transitional and long-term employment, and provide employee benefits such as free access to lawyers to support with name change documentation, as well as cover costs related to gender confirmation surgery.

  • East Scarborough Boys and Girls Club, a multi-service agency that pitched Fades 2 Success a full-service, mobile barbershop, which will provide low-cost haircuts to members of the East Scarborough Community. The enterprise will create transitional employment opportunities for youth facing barriers to labour market, including those with experience with the justice system, with an interest in the barbering industry.

  • Elizabeth Fry Society of Peel-Halton, an agency that pitched Mattress S.H.A.R.E, a mattress recycling business in Peel Region that will creates long-term and transitional employment opportunities for women who have been in conflict with the criminal justice system. The enterprise will collect discarded mattresses, reducing the number of mattresses that end up in landfills, recycling them based on regional requirements.

  • Abena Offeh-Gyimah, an independent entrepreneur who pitched Adda Blooms, a wholesale food and beverage enterprise, which sells products, such as cold-pressed juices and snacks infused with African superfoods. The employment social enterprise will employ racialized who have limited employment experience, equipping them with skills, experience and networks necessary to secure long-term employment in food and beverage manufacturing, marketing and sales.

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The competition was judged by four expert judges, including Mark Gordon, Managing Director of ONCAP, a Toronto-based private equity firm; Myrna Angelica Coca Paz, a Spanish language interpreter with Interpreter Services Toronto, an employment social enterprise that employs newcomer women; Parin Kothari, the Founder of Livelihood Café, a Kensington Market-based employment social enterprise café and catering enterprise that employs newcomers; and Anne Jamieson, Senior Manager of TEF, at the United Way of Greater Toronto.

The over sixty members of the audience who attended the competition were also inspired by the two additional competition semi-finalists pitched at the competition, but did not secure catalyzing grants. Entrepreneurs Jasmin Burns and Souleyman Haggar pitched ABC2 an employment social enterprise that provides cleaning and inventory management services to restaurants and bars, and create employment opportunities for people facing a variety of barriers to the labour market, including mental illness, and newcomer status. Additionally, entrepreneurs Ryan Knight and Derrick Fagan pitched ACBN Creative Works Agency, a digital marketing and video production social enterprise that seeks to employ youth and newcomers facing barriers to the labour market.

The Competition was hosted by TEF, a program of the United Way Greater Toronto, which is supported by the Federal Government, the Province of Ontario, and the City of Toronto. TEF is a leading Canadian provider of supports to employment social enterprises.

TEF is currently recruiting applicants for its winter Accelerator, which will focus on entrepreneurs creating employment social enterprises that employ people with disabilities. Applications close Friday, December 14t, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

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