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Advice from the Social Change Award Finalists: 2016 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

The Social Change Award celebrates an exceptional leader of a not-for-profit or charitable organization that is dedicated to helping others help themselves. These leaders assist in social change and improving the quality of lives around us, not to mention garnering extraordinary support from the community by championing philanthropy and volunteerism in Canada.

We asked this year’s winner and finalists for their best advice for other entrepreneurs:



Finalist: Dianne Fehr, Immigrant Access Fund

Each year, thousands of internationally-trained immigrants arrive in Canada with dreams of building a successful life for themselves and their families. Often, they arrive with excellent skills, education and experience, but face barriers to securing employment in their field and languish in unemployment or “survival” jobs. A significant barrier for many lack of funds to pay for the Canadian licensing/training they need to work in their field. IAF removes that financial barrier through a character-based micro loan program, with the vision of skilled immigrants being equitably integrated into the workforce and contributing their expertise to Canada’s economic and social success.



Finalist: Patricia Pottie, Strongest Families Institute

Strongest Families Institute is a federally incorporated not-for-profit institute that delivers evidence-based mental health programs to children, youth and families from a distance. Dr. Patricia Lingley-Pottie, President and CEO, is a passionate academic and professional who has dedicated her career to improving the lives of children and families through innovation. SFI’s groundbreaking distance-delivery system removes barriers that prevent families from accessing traditional mental health services. It provides, effective evidence-based and cost-efficient programs, when and where families need help. It achieves consistently strong clinical outcomes and high levels of family satisfaction.




Winner: Jennifer Flanagan, Actua

Actua is Canada’s largest science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education outreach organization engaging 250,000 youth each year in transformational experiences that help them achieve their potential. Actua’s delivery model includes a network of 34 university and college based STEM outreach organizations and its own outreach team, together delivering programming in 500 communities across every province and territory. Actua’s focus at the national level is on engaging Canada’s most underserved youth populations with the most innovative content in order to contribute to the diversity that is needed to drive social and economic innovation in Canada.



The collective impact of our country’s female entrepreneurs cannot be overstated. The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is the premier national awards program celebrating the achievements of the most successful in this inspiring group. Now in its 24th year, over 120 women have been recognized for demonstrating excellence—from economic growth to social change, from local to global reach, across multiple sectors. We’re honoured to shine a spotlight on them.