Last week Futurpreneur Canada hosted its second Action Entrepreneurship Summit presented by Meridian in Toronto. This annual event brings together entrepreneurs, mentors, business leaders, policy makers, non-profit leaders and others from across the nation to discuss how to best support and advance youth entrepreneurship in Canada.

The day started on Wednesday, May 13 with the Enlight! Entrepreneur Forum hosted at the Arcadian Court in downtown Toronto. Opening remarks were made by Futurpreneur Canada CEO, Julia Deans, and Sandra Odendahl, the Director of Corporate Sustainability & Social Finance at RBC Canada. Successful entrepreneur, Jay Klein, Founder and CEO of PUR Gum, was the keynote speaker of the day where he shared some useful (and humorous) insights on how he developed his idea into a viable and profitable enterprise.

Following the speeches, the group of young entrepreneurs broke out into the afternoon sessions hosted by industry professionals focused on business growth, financing and finding new customers. The engaging first half of the summit led to #AEcanada, the official hashtag for the event,  trending on Twitter as entrepreneurs were eager to share their new learnings and connections they made.

That evening, the Ignite! Cocktail Reception brought together over 200 attendees for an evening of networking and shopping at a marketplace which was filled with 35 booths of amazing products and goods from some  Futurpreneur Canada business owners.

During the Cocktail Reception, Jeff Ryzner of Winnipeg was presented with the 2015 BDC Mentor Award,  honouring  his hard work and dedication to mentoring business leaders of tomorrow. The night concluded with a buzz and energy that could be felt throughout the room.

The second and final day of the Action Entrepreneurship Canadian Summit brought everyone together for a full day of discussions on the topic of business growth. The Chair of Futurpreneur Canada’s Board of Directors, John Risley, along with Julia Deans, and Marie-France Lalonde, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, welcomed everyone to the day of engaging discussions. There was an entrepreneur panel introduced by Bill Maurin, President and CEO of Meridian, and moderated by Janice McDonald, entrepreneur and Futurpreneur Board Member. Janice was joined on stage by Obby Khan, Owner of Shawarma Khan and Green Carrot in Manitoba, Kevin Alto, Co-Owner of Alto Collective in Alberta, and Jen Azzolin, Co-Founder of Quebec-based business, PPL Connect. The three entrepreneurs shared their stories, how they overcame challenges and roadblocks along the way, and advice for other entrepreneurs.

Following the panel, the roundtable breakout sessions began where attendees gave input on how to better support the growth of young enterprise in Canada. These discussions identified the obstacles young entrepreneurs face when growing their businesses, as well as suggestions on how to address them. The information collected from these roundtables will be brought together into a report that will provide Canadian leaders with recommendations on how they can better support young entrepreneurs with growing their enterprises.

The afternoon at the summit included an Expert Exchange, where attendees had the chance to select from over 30 roundtable table discussions on a specific topic area led by seasoned professionals. Discussions were held surrounding growing your team and human resources, marketing and financing.

The informative and engaging two- day event ended with some time for networking before everyone departed. Overall, Action Entrepreneurship 2015 was a great success!

Learn more about Action Entrepreneurship 2015 and read the recommendations in the 2014 Action Plan.

Written by: Lauren Marinigh, Social Media & Content Creation Coordinator, Futurpreneur Canada

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