Future of Good is excited to present the 2020 list of new founders to watch.
Now is a challenging time for new social impact organizations, non-profits, co-operatives, and social enterprise startups. Demand for many startups’ services is rising while fundraising is becoming more difficult and federal government support is largely falling short.
But this period of time is also presenting an enormous opportunity to rise to the challenge of rebuilding our country. And these 21 new founders are poised to do just that.
Each founder on this list is building a promising solution for a more resilient, caring, inclusive, sustainable society — solutions that are vital for communities to build back better post-pandemic.
Featuring founders of social impact organizations less than three years old, this list includes those working on causes like food security, youth climate action, accessible in-home care, inclusive leadership training, housing affordability, and more. These founders are entrepreneurs, innovators, and leaders of today and tomorrow. Their work moves us forward, and is worthy of celebration.
Nominations for the list opened in March with only two requirements: nominee organizations must be under three years old and work in Canada. An internal team brought the submissions down to a shortlist of 35, then a selection committee made up of Future of Good’s advisory board and member community each submitted their top 21 picks, and the votes were tallied.
Future of Good’s selection committee for this year’s 21 New Founders To Watch:
- Anna Laycock, former CEO, Finance Innovation Lab
- Danielle Graham, Principal, Sandpiper Ventures
- Hannah Rundle, Corporate Sustainability Analyst, Scotiabank
- Ilse Treurnicht, former CEO, MaRS Discovery District
- Joanna Buczkowska-McCumber, Executive Director, League of Innovators
- Manu Sharma, Strategic Advisor, Centre for Social Enterprise Development
- Rachel Berdan, Social Enterprise Program Manager, Pillar Nonprofit Network
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Aidan Scott (He/Him)
Improving the accessibility of mental health support
Aidan Scott is the co-founder and CEO of Speakbox, a digital platform that allows counsellors and clients to share notes, care plans, goals, and progress. After experiencing mental illness in his own life and seeing first-hand the barriers preventing millions from accessing care, Scott recognized that for mental healthcare to be effective, patients and care providers need to function as one harmonious team.
Alexandra Daignault (She/Her)
Starting necessary conversations about Indigenous rights
Alexandra Daignault describes herself as an “accidental social entrepreneur.” She founded Sarjesa — a tea company that uses its platform and products to raise awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as well as gendered violence across other marginalised communities — during her undergraduate studies at Mount Royal University.
Ana Gonzalez Guerrero (She/Her) and Dominique Souris (She/Her)
Co-founders, Youth Climate Lab
Empowering the next generation to take climate action
Dominique Souris and Ana Gonzalez Guerrero are the co-founders of Youth Climate Lab (YCL). Driven by the need to create a more just and inclusive transition towards a sustainable future, Gonzalez Guerrero and Souris are providing young people across the country with the tools and resources they need to take climate action in their communities.
Candies Kotchapaw (She/Her)
Founder, Developing Young Leaders of Tomorrow, Today (DYLOTT)
Empowering a generation of Black Canadian leaders
After experiencing systemic racism during graduate studies, Candies Kotchapaw founded Developing Young Leaders of Tomorrow, Today (DYLOTT), a Black youth-focused leadership incubation organization, geared towards changing the career trajectory of Black youth. Kotchapaw is working to empower leaders of colour, today and tomorrow.
Chenny Xia (She/Her) and Carol MacDonald (She/Her)
Improving the accessibility of in-home care
Chenny Xia and Carol MacDonald are on a mission to make in-home care more accessible. They co-founded GotCare, one of the largest networks of care workers in Canada, helping to reduce wait times for in-home care across the country. Xia brings a background in service and systems design, and MacDonald brings her experience as a healthcare worker to their innovative work on GotCare.
Cheyenne Sundance (She/Her)
Founder, Sundance Harvest
Fighting for food justice and sovereignty
Cheyenne Sundance is a self-taught organic farmer who has worked in both rural and urban settings. She’s the founder and farmer of Sundance Harvest, an urban farm in Toronto, Ontario that focuses on food justice and eradicating systemic racism in the food system. She also works as a food justice educator with experience in community organizing and political resistance movements.
Claire Elizabeth Williams (She/Her)
Co-founder, New Leaf Project
Taking direct action on homelessness
Claire Elizabeth Williams is the co-founder and executive director of the New Leaf Project, an organization that provides direct cash transfers to people experiencing homelessness. NLP is taking bold action to create a positive impact on people’s lives at precisely the time they need it most, and has provided valuable insight for other organizations working toward direct cash transfer-based solutions.
Dr. Alina Turner (She/Her)
Connecting Canadians with the services they need
A researcher and entrepreneur, Dr. Alina Turner is the co-founder of social enterprise HelpSeeker, a digital platform that connects people across the country with nearby social services. HelpSeeker uses machine learning, data science, and social innovation to help people gain easier access to services that improve their lives.
Jennifer DeCoste (She/Her)
Engaging in deep, grassroots community development
Jennifer DeCoste is the founder of a network of barter-based folkschools in Nova Scotia called Life.School.House. This platform creates stronger neighborhoods and reduces social isolation by offering nourishing spaces where neighbours can learn, connect, and thrive. DeCoste and her team are now sharing their expertise across Canada, supporting others to create their own community-led folkschools.
Katie Heggtveit (She/Her)
Founder, Bootcamps for Change
Using physical activity to connect with people experiencing homelessness
Katie Heggtveit founded the award-winning organization Bootcamps for Change, which facilitates custom in-shelter fitness, sports rehabilitation, and #SweatierForTheBetter employment programs for youth experiencing homelessness. Bootcamps for Change has an incredible success rate: 100 percent of its scholarship recipients have now exited the shelter system and live independently.
Kim Aitken (She/Her)
Founder, Aitken Frame Homes
Addressing the housing affordability crisis
Kim Aitken is the founder of Aitken Frame Homes, houses designed to be more affordable, stronger, and more energy efficient. Through her involvement with the Muskoka Women's Advocacy Group, Aitken saw how the unaffordability of housing was affecting people’s lives, and decided to create a solution that would make buying a home more accessible.
Lliam Hildebrand (He/Him)
Co-founder, Iron & Earth
Building tools and resources for our transition to renewable energy
Lliam Hildebrand is the co-founder of Iron & Earth, an organization that helps oil and gas workers transition their skills toward the renewable energy industry. After working as a welder and steel fabricator for the oil and gas industry, Hildebrand had the opportunity to use his skills to build a wind farm, and soon after had the idea to help other oil and gas workers transition their skill sets, too.
Lourdes Juan (She/Her)
Founder, The Leftovers Foundation
Reducing food waste while improving access to food
An urban planner and entrepreneur, Lourdes Juan is the founder of the Leftovers Foundation, an organization ensuring that good quality food from restaurants, bakeries, grocers and distributors stays out of landfills by redirecting this food toward service agencies working with communities who need better access to food.
Nada El Masry (She/Her)
Co-founder, RADIUS Refugee Livelihood Lab
Supporting refugees and newcomers to Canada
Nada El Masry is a Libyan-born Palestinian who came to the unceded land of the Coast Salish peoples just over 10 years ago. Having worked with racialized migrants for several years, El Masry co-designed RADIUS Refugee Livelihood Lab, which aims to build social, economic, and political capital for racialized refugee and migrant communities.
Natasha Freidus (She/Her)
Facilitating aid for people displaced by climate crises
With two decades of experience in human-centred design for social change, Natasha Freidus has seen first-hand the need for better responses to climate crises. She co-founded NeedsList, a tech company creating software that aggregates needs of people displaced by crises and offers for local help in real-time, to foster collaboration between stakeholders, reduce waste, and increase efficiency.
Naysan Saran (She/Her)
Co-founder, CANN Forecast
Making water management systems more sustainable
Naysan Saran is taking action on Sustainable Development Goal 6 — clean water and sanitation. Her company, CANN Forecast uses artificial intelligence to help municipalities more efficiently and sustainably manage their water systems. With a background in both computer engineering and mathematics, Saran is passionate about using artificial intelligence to help solve environmental challenges.
Rachel Kiddell-Monroe (She/Her)
Radical, community-first approaches to health crises
Rachel Kiddell-Monroe founded the SeeChange Initiative, an innovative platform with Inuit communities to address the tuberculosis epidemic and a Community First COVID-19 Roadmap to support isolated, at-risk communities in preparing for COVID-19 outbreaks. Kiddell-Monroe is a humanitarian worker, a lawyer and an activist, passionate about promoting humanity and solidarity for people and our planet.
Rusul Alrubail (She/Her)
Founder, the Parkdale Centre for Innovation
Closing the innovation gap among people of colour
Rusul Alrubail is working to close gaps in accessibility to innovation, the tech industry and entrepreneurship, especially for underrepresented groups: women, newcomers and those from low-income backgrounds. She’s the founder of the Parkdale Centre for Innovation, a non-profit incubator and accelerator focusing on supporting founders of colour and who are newcomers to Canada.
Tessa Lochhead (She/Her) and Karen Nutarak (She/Her)
Co-founders, the Pirurvik Preschool
Delivering culturally relevant early education in the North
Tessa Lochhead and Karen Nutarak are the co-founders of the Pirurvik Preschool in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, which provides culturally relevant early education centered and based on the Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ) principles. The Pirivik Preschool also serves as a training facility for early childhood educators across Nunavut and was the recipient of a $1 million Arctic Inspiration Prize.
Trevor Bell (He/Him)
Building solutions for climate change adaptation
Trevor Bell is the founder of SmartlCE, which empowers Indigenous communities to adapt to increasingly unpredictable ice conditions. SmartICE was recognized by the United Nations in 2017 for its novel climate solution and was the recipient of a Governor General’s Innovation Award in 2019. Trevor is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
Wendy Morrison (She/Her)
Founder, YZED Projects
Strengthening Yukon’s social impact ecosystem
Wendy Morrison is the founder of YZED Projects, a company whose core offering is REVyzed, a program to build organizational effectiveness and help Yukon-based non-profits thrive. REVyzed is working with community and technology experts to develop accessible tech solutions, tools, coaching and support.