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2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Social Change Award Winner: Melissa Sariffodeen


Melissa Sariffodeen

CEO, Ladies Learning Code

Winner, Social Change Award

Ladies Learning Code, founded by Heather Payne in 2011 alongside Laura Plant, Brenna Hughes and Melissa Sariffodeen, is a national not-for-profit organization championing digital literacy education for Canadians, working nation-wide and across all sectors to equip women and youth with technical skills. To date, the organization has taught over 60,000 Canadians code through their programs, including Girls Learning Code, Kids Learning Code, and Teachers Learning Code, which are offered in over 30 cities across the country. The organization believes technical skills are a tool of empowerment, and it is their mission to ensure that all Canadians — particularly women and youth — have the opportunity to learn these skills and be active participants in the digital age.


What is the one piece of advice that you would give to someone interested in building or running a not-for-profit?

Go for it! If you’ve identified a problem you want to tackle — the world needs you, but don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way. You don’t need to do it alone or re-invent the wheel — asking for help and collaborating with others helps move the dial for everyone, together.


What can other businesses learn from the way not-for-profit organizations measure success?

Community-first thinking and maximizing impact first vs. profit just makes sense. Prioritizing the impact on your community — customer, learner, patient, etc. ensures you’re creating products and services that people want and need and that has really positive effects on other metrics of success, too.



See all of the 2017 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award finalists.