The Innovators & Entrepreneurs Foundation is a charity whose mission is to support and celebrate businesses and their owners from marginalized communities in Canada. While in our infancy we have ambitious plans for growth recognizing the many needs of those we serve, particularly in the wake of the many complex challenges we continue to face here in our own country and around the world. Companies with less than 100 people  makeup 99.8% of businesses in Canada and consequently play a vital role in our economic recovery and Canadian prosperity.


    At the tail end of 2021, IEF in partnership with UPS and sponsored by Alexandra Horwood & Andrew James Labbad, launched 4 Micro-Grants, each $5,000. Through listening to the needs and feedback from our ecosystem supported by ongoing research we made the application process as user-friendly as possible and the program as fast as possible. Applications started pouring in from mid-December, we announced the recipients on the 15th of February 2022, and the funds were deposited in their bank accounts the following week. 

    We had over 1200 applications from every province and territory. Businesses from a multitude of sectors applied and so many with compelling stories of resilience, determination, and the ability to adapt with agility through the relentless complications COVID caused. While the adjudication process was challenging our 4 recipients stood out for many reasons. Learn more about them here: 

    The Creative Entrepreneurs Grant

    Sponsored by the Alexandra Horwood & Andrew James Labbad Fund.

    The purpose of this grant is to support entrepreneurs in creative industries (art, music, entertainment, fashion, independent media, design services, etc.) with their business development and growth.

    Janelle Desrosiers

    Janelle Desrosiers is a two-spirit and Métis woman living in Treaty 1 Territory. Also known as Winnipeg, Manitoba, this is the homeland of the Métis Nation, and the stolen lands of the Ojibwe, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene.

    Janelle is the founder and creative director of Bloom + Brilliance, which is a queer, feminist and Indigenous women-led design agency. Their mission is to build beautiful brands, websites and strategies for feminist and Indigenous women entrepreneurs, community leaders and organizations as they change the world.

    Janelle and her team believe that by channeling their passion, purpose, and power, feminist and Indigenous entrepreneurs are uniquely positioned to effect positive change on individual, community and global scales.

    The UPS Product Innovation Award

    The UPS Product Innovation Grant is awarded to entrepreneurs developing innovative products across any industry sector.

    Nadia Ladak

    Nadia and her partners met at university where they developed a love for business. What started as a school project soon took on greater meaning and is now their growing and innovative business for women, by women.

    Marlow’s mission is to provide a one-stop shop for modern menstrual & sexual wellness, starting with the first-ever lubricated tampon to ease insertion pain. They are committed to creating a world where menstruators can flourish rather than be held back by imposed barriers, furthering the United Nations’ sustainable development goals of gender equality & good health and wellbeing.

    86% of individuals have experienced tampon insertion pain due to anxiety, light flow, or medical conditions such as vaginismus. So Marlow created the first-ever lubricated tampon which consists of 100% organic cotton tampons & a bottle of lubricant engineered to perfectly coat the tampon in one easy, mess-free dip.

    Beyond this initial product, Marlow plans to create new innovations such as a more environmentally sustainable tampon that uses a seaweed-based plastic applicator. Their innovations will be driven by the community so that they can continue to advance women’s health both here in Canada and internationally.

    The UPS Global Impact Award

    The UPS Global Impact Grant aims to recognize entrepreneurs and innovators in marginalized communities making a social/environmental impact that transcends national borders through innovative products.

    Kim Parker

    Kim grew up in Ontario on her family farm where she developed her passion for gardening and grew a close relationship with plants. She believes everything in life builds up your skills for what you are supposed to be doing and is clearly passionate about combining her business acumen with her knowledge and understanding of harvesting and plant life. 

    Food Security Structures Canada is committed to helping address world hunger and food insecurity by providing communities and individuals with controlled-environment, indoor agricultural systems that allow them to grow fresh, nutritious, delicious food all year round regardless of location or climate.

    Kim is proud to partner with leading manufacturers to create the best structures for optimum indoor growing. Their unique lights, combined with vertical growing systems create a solution that can be used in homes, repurposed buildings, or new structures to provide maximum yields of diverse crops with very low operational costs all year round.

    The vision is for anyone to be able to grow high-quality, organic, and fresh produce with unmatched taste and unique flavors in any environment, in the world, in any climate, all year long. Kim and her team are working with homeless shelters and groups representing underserved communities to build food sovereignty both here in Canada and around the world.

    The Crisis Grant

    Sponsored by the Alexandra Horwood & Andrew James Labbad Fund.

    The Crisis Grant’s purpose is to support an entrepreneur or innovator who has been inadvertently affected by crisis i.e. natural disasters or directly impacted by the effects of COVID.

    Laurie Samuel

    Laurie Samuel has an impressive background working with law enforcement both here in Canada and the USA. She has studied criminology and throughout her earlier career became increasingly aware of the crime statistics regarding violence against women. It felt personal to her. She explained this could happen to your sisters or your mother, and by the time the call is made to the police, it is too late!

    What started organically through working out in her local gym has grown and continues to do so. Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, domestic violence numbers have skyrocketed with more and more women reaching out for help. The work of Cupid Sting has quadrupled. With lockdowns and in-person restrictions, they were not always able to help women face-to-face but they continue to find innovative ways to reach women remotely where they are.

    Cupid Sting is a women’s safety non-profit advancing the UN principle to empower women and girls. It is our mission to teach women and girls life-saving skills to protect themselves inside and outside their homes in order to reduce victimization. Working with victims and survivors of domestic violence, Cupid Sting also teaches self-defense classes to help women reduce their victimization.


    We ask that you work with us to promote these incredible women and their businesses, recognizing their CANIE Micro-Grant, the part they play in their communities, the country and internationally. We would be delighted to introduce you to any or all of the recipients and/or set up a time to chat with you and provide more information. 

    Our work and celebrations would not be possible without the incredible support from our sponsors, all of whom we thank most sincerely.


    The charity’s flagship program is called The CANIE Awards and this year’s applications for the competition open on March 28th, 2022. Celebrating Innovators & Entrepreneurs with ten award categories all across Canada. The finalists receive $10,000 in prizes. 




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