ST. JOHN’S, NL – The Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE) hosted its 23rd annual Entrepreneur of the Year Awards on Thursday, November 26th, 2020, streamed live from the Delta Hotels by Marriot St. John’s Conference Centre. The event celebrates women in business in Newfoundland and Labrador, and seven business owners were awarded and honoured tonight for the positive impacts they’ve made in our province.
Charlene Brophy, president and CEO of Fonemed, took home the pinnacle Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, sponsored by RBC Royal Bank. This award recognizes a long-time entrepreneur who has made a significant impact on the economy, and whose success is an inspiration for other women in business. Fonemed is an international telemedicine company that provides clinical services and software solutions to more than 15 million individuals throughout Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. A registered nurse by background, Brophy acknowledges that a significant factor in her success has been the desire to make a difference and using her acute care background knowledge set in the business world. A seasoned executive and inspiration to many, Brophy reflects on the importance of mentoring young entrepreneurs who are up and coming here in the province.
“I think it’s important for women entrepreneurs, right throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, to reach out, to support one another, to not be afraid to ask for help, and share our lessons learned,” says Brophy. “I think that’s how we’re all going to succeed, by showing others it can be done.”
To learn more about Charlene Brophy, please click here.
Emily Bland, SeedEO of SucSeed, took home the Young Entrepreneur Award, sponsored by College of the North Atlantic. This award recognizes an entrepreneur, 35 years of age or younger, that has owned and operated a business for at least two years. SucSeed designs and builds hydroponic gardens and empowers anyone to grow fresh produce year-round, with each garden built in partnership with Choices for Youth.
“SucSeed is on a mission to educate one million students every single year across Canada, teaching about sustainable agriculture, healthy eating and waste reduction,” says Bland. “For us, that’s our way of creating a more sustainable agriculture sector here in Canada.”
To learn more about Emily Bland, please click here.
Deborah Dunne of Alderwood Retirement Centre, took home the Economic Impact Award, sponsored by the Hebron Project. This award recognizes an entrepreneur whose business has significantly impacted the local economy, improving the economic position of the community in which it operates by employing local resources, stimulating growth and contributing to sustainable community development. Alderwood is a retirement centre for seniors with different levels of care, including level 1, level 2, and enhanced care.
“What I love about Witless Bay and the Irish Loop is that they’re like an extended family to Alderwood, and they’ve always embraced our seniors,” says Dunne. “They’re the backbone to our society.”
To learn more about Deborah Dunne, please click here.
Afiya Altaf, co-owner and head chef of Curry Delight, took home the Momentum Award, sponsored by McInnes Cooper. This award recognizes an entrepreneur who has demonstrated significant growth and/or growth potential within a one to three year time span, having built a business that is adaptable and apt to successfully leverage opportunities for continued growth. Curry Delight started as a vendor at the Farmer’s Market and has now expanded to a family run restaurant and take-out located in Mount Pearl, serving authentic Pakistani/Indian cuisine using handmade, local, or organic ingredients as much as possible.
“My favourite thing about being an entrepreneur is the pride that you feel,” says Altaf. “That something that is so personal to you is appreciated and liked by other people.”
To learn more about Afiya Altaf, please click here.
Lauren Saunders and Emily Evans, creators and co-directors of The Shop, SALT, took home the Trendsetter Award, sponsored by Bluedrop Learning Networks. This award recognizes an entrepreneur who owns and operates a successful business that employs innovation and original thinking in both its operational and promotional activities. This entrepreneur’s business stands out from others in its industry for setting trends and turning traditional ideas on their heads. The Shop, SALT is a clothing brand based out of St. John’s, NL that promotes the salt philosophy – being “SALT of the earth” – genuine, good-natured, and true to yourself.
“I think the key to our success has really been our friendship and staying true to ourselves. That’s ultimately the meaning behind our brand,” says Saunders. “Our audience sees that and relates to us, and it’s a relationship with them as well. I think we all grow together, and they want us to succeed, and they see that we’re working really hard,” says Evans.
To learn more about Lauren Saunders and Emily Evans, please click here.
Ashley Sullivan, co-founder of Creatros Technologies, took home the Trailblazer Award, sponsored by Cox & Palmer. This award recognizes an entrepreneur who owns and operates a business that has excelled in a non-traditional industry for women-owned businesses or successfully established a business in an industry uncommon to the area in which it operates. Creatros Technologies is a start-up company based in St. John’s, NL that develops AI-powered intelligent skills traceability tools for tech companies which track the skills of technical employees.
“What inspires me the most is seeing other entrepreneurs take something from nothing and build it into an amazing company,” says Sullivan. Adding her advice for entrepreneurs, “Don’t take no as a closed door, but a conversation. You can learn more from a no than a yes.”
To learn more about Ashley Sullivan, please click here.
“For over two decades NLOWE has been honouring outstanding women business owners of Newfoundland and Labrador through our Entrepreneur of the Year Awards,” says Margaret Budgell, president of NLOWE’s Board of Directors. “These award recipients are helping to create a stronger and more diverse business landscape in our province, and we are happy to celebrate them and their contributions, especially during such a challenging year.”
“2020 has been such a difficult year for all of us, especially for local businesses right across the province,” says Jennifer Bessell, CEO of NLOWE. “Being able to recognize these outstanding women and participate in such a good news story is something that we are very proud of.”
The awards event was live streamed on NLOWE’s YouTube channel. Along with six award presentations, tonight’s awards event brought virtual greetings from Honourable Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador; Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for ACOA; and Her Honour The Honourable Judy May Foote, Lieutenant Governor.
NLOWE’s 2020 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards is proudly supported by ACOA and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Award sponsors include RBC Royal Bank (Entrepreneurial Excellence Award), College of the North Atlantic (Young Entrepreneur Award), Hebron Project (Economic Impact Award), McInnes Cooper (Momentum Award), Bluedrop Learning Networks (Trendsetter Award), and Cox & Palmer (Trailblazer Award). Other sponsors include Stewart McKelvey, Alderwood Estates, and MAKEvents, with video production by Walsh Productions.
NLOWE has been handing out Entrepreneur of the Year Awards since 1998. For more details about the awards, please visit www.nlowe.org/awards.
Founded in 1997, NLOWE is the only provincial organization that is dedicated exclusively to the support of women in business. NLOWE provides valuable and relevant training, resources, and opportunities to help women develop and grow their businesses. NLOWE offers services to women in business thanks to ACOA, The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).
To learn more about each 2020 award recipient, please visit our YouTube Page.