The past two years have been possibly the worst time to start and build a new venture, from a business perspective. They’ve also been perhaps the most crucial time in modern history for persistent social innovation.
That’s why Future of Good is excited to present our 2022 list of 21 new social impact founders to watch. Each founder on this list is working on a promising solution for a more equitable, sustainable, caring post-pandemic Canada.
The organizations these founders lead are all three years old or younger, and are tackling issues like climate change, inequitable maternal health, the fashion industry’s waste, barriers to impact investing for Indigenous women, inaccessible tech, and more.
And this year’s list tells us that ambitious solutions are coming from those historically excluded from Canada’s social impact spaces: two thirds of these founders are women, two thirds are racialized founders, and just more than half are living outside of central Canada.
Future of Good chose the final 21 from a list of more than 200 nominations, with the help of a selection panel: Danielle Graham, venture partner at Archangel Network; Keith Ippel, CEO and co-founder of Spring Activator; Nabeela Merchant, senior associate with the TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good; and Naysan Saran, CEO and co-founder of CANN Forecast (and a member of last year’s list of new founders to watch).
The 2022 New Founders To Watch list is presented in partnership with the TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good, a $100-million corporate-impact fund that invests in for-profit companies and founders committed to driving social innovation and solutions for transforming healthcare, caring for our planet, supporting responsible agriculture and enabling inclusive communities. Stay tuned for more stories about these 21 founders’ stories, experiences in the Canadian social purpose ecosystem, and more.
Founder and CEO, Mommy Monitor
Elsie Amoako is the founder of Mommy Monitor, a platform, based in Ontario but operating Canada-wide, that connects parents with culturally safe and personalized perinatal care, support and education. In fact, Amoako devotes much of her career to maternal health — she’s also the founder of the Racialized Maternal Health Conference. Amoako’s advice for other founders? “Be true to yourself and your original mission.”
CEO and Co-Founder, ALT TEX
Coming from a family of textile manufacturers, Myra Arshad is determined to disrupt the wasteful and unethical fashion industry. Arshad built ALT TEX, a startup that creates textiles from re-engineered food waste. Last spring, the ALT TEX team raised a $1.5 million seed round, and Arshad is now focused on taking the polyester replacement solution global. Ashad’s advice to other founders? “Solve the biggest problem you can find. You’re going to spend the same amount of time building out a food delivery app vs a sustainable biomaterials company. You might as well choose the most meaningful and difficult problem you can find to solve and you might just find yourself doing it successfully.”
Founder and CEO, Untangle Money
Did you know that for every $1 a man has in wealth, a woman has 32 cents? “Let that sink in,” says Kristine Beese. “This means that women are far more likely to retire in poverty, and this is NOT ok. We deserve a better future than this.” That’s why Beese, based in Ontario, created Untangle Money — financial products that help close the gap and take into account the financial differences women experience.
Founder and CEO, LABORA
Rene Blanco’s B.C.-based company, LABORA, works with an underserved population: temporary foreign workers. LABORA is a platform that allows workers to send and track their international money transfers at the best fee and exchange rate available in the market. The company recently added tax filing and optimization, and next up, Blanco says, is support for financial retirement planning.
Co-Founder and CEO, MICC
Jonah Chininga believes everyone should have access to credit, so he co-founded MICC, a P.E.I.-based app that allows users to build credit by making regular payments (which are reported to credit bureaus) to a pool with friends. “Over the past year, we have helped marginalized business owners access affordable small business financing, and international students access funding to complete their education,” Chininga says. “This segment makes up the majority of the credit invisible population in Canada.”
Founder and CEO, Be One to Give
Tony Colley describes himself as an introvert, disruptor, and social entrepreneur. That last descriptor refers to Colley’s work as founder of Ontario-based Be One to Give, “a surplus food recovery app that simultaneously combats food waste and food insecurity across Canada.” So far, Be One to Give has redistributed over 17,000 pounds of food, fed more than 13,000 people, and diverted over 64,000 pounds of GHG emissions.
Founder and CEO, Ethical Digital
Katrina German and her Saskatchewan-based team have their work cut out for them — they’re “planning to change the trajectory of the internet,” German says. German is the founder of Ethical Digital, a digital marketing company focused on “respect for everyone everywhere…starting with the internet.” Ethical Digital works on research projects related to — you guessed it — ethical digital practices, and works directly with clients.
Founder, Accelerate Her Future
Dr. Golnaz Golnaraghi is an award-winning social entrepreneur, author, speaker, and gender and racial equality advocate who founded the Ontario-based organization, Accelerate Her Future — ”a career accelerator providing tailored programs for self-identifying Black, Indigenous and women of colour to launch their careers in business and STEM while building networks of solidarity and action.”
Founder and CEO, tiptap
You may have seen Chris Greenfield’s Ontario-based company’s innovation at the counter of your local Tim Hortons or accompanying a Salvation Army kettle campaigner. Greenfield is the founder of tiptap, a device that accepts tap payments for quick, on-the-spot donations to charitable causes (the company is also expanding into transit and events). tiptap has raised millions of dollars for charities since the company’s launch and has even launched the tiptap foundation.
Founder and Executive Director, The PREP Academy
Ashley Hill’s organization, the PREP Academy, is a community based non-profit that inspires and coaches African Nova Scotian students to pursue higher education. As the first in her African Nova Scotian family to attend university, Hill “has faced challenges and experienced systemic barriers in her pursuit of obtaining a higher education,” her bio reads. “It was through her lived experiences that shaped her dedication to student access and success. Her career and desire to help others is inspired by her grandmother, Bernetta.”
Co-Founder and CEO, DISCOVELO
In 2019, after 17 years in high-pressure consulting work, Scott Keesey was feeling so much work-induced anxiety that he decided on a career change. He partnered with his co-founder, John Carson, to create DISCOVELO. The company built software that helps teachers use any stationary bike and iPad to help their students regulate their emotional energy. Based in Yukon, Keesey says he’s most excited about starting to build the company’s impact thesis, theory of change model, and impact measurement framework over the next year or so.
Co-Founder and CEO, My Normative
A passionate advocate for and scholar in gender, sex, health, and accessibility, Danika Kelly created Alberta-based My Normative, which fights the erasure of women and people who menstruate in modern Western health science — including through an app with expansive health information for this population. “It’s so important that the work we do at My Normative transcends the needs of the company and moves the needle on the science of female health more broadly,” Kelly says.
Co-Founder and CEO, Grey-box
Valentin Kravtchenko founded Quebec-based Grey-box to bring free WiFi access to classrooms in remote areas where access to the Internet and electricity is inconsistent. If Kravtchenko could give one piece of advice to other social entrepreneurs, it would be: “Be curious, ask for help and get your hands dirty by doing the hard work.” Over the next year or so, Kravtchenko says he and his team plan to create and implement an ethics framework for the company.
Founder, Executive Director, and Editor in Chief, the On Canada Project
Samanta Krishnapillai took the On Canada Project from “passion project to social enterprise” in summer of 2021. The Ontario-based project began as the ON COVID-19 Project, which worked to supplement “official communications about the COVID-19 pandemic that lacked compassion and did not speak to young Canadians, marginalized folks, and those with less privilege.” Now, the social enterprise’s goal is even bigger — to give Millennials and Gen Zers the information they need to engage in conversations about social issues more broadly “using a compassionate tone that calls people into conversations, rather than calling people out.”
Co-Founder and CTO, LUCID
Aaron Labbé is on a mission to “unlock the full potential of music to improve the human condition” — no small feat, but one he and his team are making headway on through Labbé’s Ontario-based company, LUCID, music and digital products that practitioners and individuals can use as treatment for mental health challenges. Labbé says some of LUCID’s success stories include “an anxiety patient telling me that they’ve been able to reduce their use of benzodiazepines, a pregnant mother easing her stress during childbirth, and a pediatric surgeon calming their nerves during a life-threatening surgery.”
Founder and CEO, Sage Initiative
A Carrier from the Lake Babine Nation, Sage Lacerte founded Sage Initiative to help Indigenous women navigate the world of impact investment. “Generations of Indigenous womxn haven’t had the opportunity to participate at the economic table,” Lacerte says. “My mom, father, and their siblings all went to residential schools and church-run day schools…Now, we’re seeing the first generation of young people who can even consider having investable capital and what to do with it. It requires transformation from a survival mindset to an abundance mindset.”
Founder and Head of Operations, COOK-UP
“As the daughter of an immigrant mother,” reads Trishauna Linton’s bio. “Trishauna learnt early on that business ownership and economic independence, particularly for immigrant women of colour, can be life changing. Born and raised in May Pen, Jamaica, Trishauna has lived experience and understanding of the power of food and entrepreneurship to build community and spark positive community transformation.” And that’s why she built COOK-UP, an Ontario-based food business incubator for marginalized food entrepreneurs.
Founder and CEO, Fable
Alwar Pillai’s mission is inclusive digital design. She created Fable, an Ontario-based platform that connects companies building digital products to people with disabilities who are willing to test those products for accessibility. One of Pillai’s proudest accomplishments, she says, is assembling the Fable team. “You can solve the right problem, have the right product, but if you don’t have the right team to execute, you go nowhere. I’m incredibly proud of the team we’ve built, they impress me every day.”
Founder and CEO, Kanin Energy
Janice Tran’s Alberta-based company, Kanin Energy, where she leads, in her words, “an amazing rockstar team purpose built to decarbonize heavy industry.” To be more specific, Tran and her team work with industries like mining and manufacturing to turn waste heat into energy. In 2022, Tran herself is focused on embracing her position as “role model for women minority leaders in the workplace” — in a heavily male- and white-dominated industry, no less.
Founder and CEO, Choro
“While I originally anticipated helping the average neighbour with ‘chores and cheer’,” says Karen Yip, who created Choro, a B.C.-based digital platform that connects seniors to helpers nearby for companionship and home help, “I never envisioned that we would be deployed to help the elderly in our community who have been victims of assaults, elder abuse and financial abuse.” Yip’s proud of all the connections made through Choro, but especially helping the most vulnerable seniors in her community at such a difficult time.
Michele Young-Crook is a 2-Spirited Anishinaabe, Bear Clan with mixed heritage who founded IndigiMall, an Ontario-based e-commerce platform hosting (for free) more than 75 Indigenous-owned businesses, from art to fashion, beadwork, moccasins, accessories, and more. Young-Crook says she’s motivated by a “relentless commitment to providing Indigenous communities, womxn, and youth with the tools to overcome barriers.”
2022 New Founders to Watch Presented by