Royal Bank of Canada
November 21, 2006
Congratulations to 2006
RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Award Winners
Close to 1,000 people gathered to celebrate and support the winners of this year’s prestigious RBC Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Awards (CWEA), sponsored by RBC Financial Group, at an inspiring ceremony in Toronto on November 21. The preeminent awards provide national recognition to Canada’s women entrepreneurs, whose successful businesses and achievements contribute so much to Canadian and global economies as well as to their communities. Here are the seven outstanding women selected from a record 875 nominations received from across Canada this year – a 55% increase over 2005:
- RBC Momentum Award – to Susan Niczowski, Summer Fresh Salads Inc., Woodbridge, ON – Since starting her business from the kitchen of her parent’s house in 1991, Susan has grown her food company into a $41 million business and a recognized brand in Canada and the U.S. She and her team of employees – who share her passion for quality food, her belief in excellent customer relations and her vision of aggressive growth – have set a target of 15% annual revenue growth.
- Deloitte Start-Up Award – to Tracy Gray and Suzanne Mick,Discover Wines Ltd., Kelowna, BC – Tracy and Suzanne have created the most successful, privately-owned specialty VQA Wine and Gift Store in British Columbia since establishing it in 2003. Believing that the excellent wine of Central BC was being overlooked, they saw an opportunity to make the winery experience accessible by opening a store that provides excellent service through its knowledgeable staff and that acts as an information centre for BC wineries.
- BDC Exporter Award – to Kyle MacDonald, Phoenix Interactive Design Inc., London, ON – With the intent of improving the technology behind financial institutions’ self-service products such as ATM machines, Kyle created the only company in Canada, and one of only three worldwide, that competes on a global level in the ATM software solution market. She revolutionized the industry and has travelled millions of miles over the years to develop solid client relationships and turn Phoenix into a global leader. Its talented professionals routinely raise the bar in retail banking with software solutions.
- Intel Innovation Award – to Yvonne Tollens, ComputerAid Professional Services Ltd., Okotoks, AB – Raised on a cattle ranch, Yvonne turned her passion and knowledge into creating the first company to provide technology and software solutions for the cattle industry. Since 1986, ComputerAid has improved the lives of cattlemen by reducing paperwork, simplifying industry processes, and making it easier to manage over $1.5 billion of cattle and commodity inventory annually. It is now one of Canada’s most successful agricultural software companies.
- Bell Trailblazer Award – to Lola Rasminsky, Avenue Road Arts School, Toronto, ON – In 1993, Lola founded the school to fill a gap left by the dissolution of arts programming in the public school system, becoming the first entrepreneur in Toronto to run an arts school as an independent business without government support or an arts institution’s backing. Today, more than 1,200 students between the ages of nine months and 90 years, ranging from inner city children to corporate executives, attend.
- Energy Savings Group Lifetime Achievement Award – to Lisette (Lee) McDonald, Southmedic Inc., Barrie, ON – Lee began her career as a critical care nurse who saw an opportunity to improve existing medical equipment to prevent inadvertent administration of more than one anesthetic agent at a time. Within six months of operating her business out of her home, Lee’s products were being sold to hospitals around the world. Today, 23 years later, the company has three divisions and over 100 employees, sells to more than 62 countries and holds numerous patents.
“These winners all share a strong vision and a relentless passion in pursuing their dreams,” says Jim Westlake, Group Head, Canadian Personal and Business Clients, RBC Financial Group. “They have influenced and benefited our economy through hard work and resolve; but more importantly I believe, they have become positive role models for the young women of today.”
Since the awards were launched in the early ’90s, over 5,000 women have been nominated, including many RBC clients. “There was a huge increase in the number of applications, particularly from Western Canada,” says Pat Pape, President of the Powerpoint Group Inc., producers of the awards. “And the addition of a new award this year to recognize an outstanding exporter also allowed us to expand the tribute to remarkable Canadian women.”