Jeff Ryzner of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the 2015 winner of the BDC Mentorship Award.

Meet the 2014 BDC Mentorship Award Winner

Ryan Jackson

“I could not have imagined starting my business without having Ryan as my mentor, he is the reason I believe my company has been such a success today. Looking back at my experience with him, I can’t even begin to explain how much he has meant to me as an individual and entrepreneur. He has taught me many valuable life lessons as well as business lessons, and will always go the extra mile and take time out of his day to help someone else.”

Anthony Merkel, mentee

Ryan Jackson
Inaugural Winner, 2014 BDC Mentorship Award Presented by Futurpreneur Canada
Principal and managing director, RAMECO Consulting Group
Medicine Hat, Alberta

Ryan is a Certified Management Consultant and member of the Institute of Certified Management Consultants of Alberta. He is also a contributing business columnist for Southern Alberta Newspapers and serves as the Entrepreneur in Residence (emeritus) at Medicine Hat College. A true-to-form entrepreneur, Ryan continues to have ownership in operating businesses in retail, hospitality and real estate development and is actively involved as Managing Director in all of the companies that he co-owns. In addition to Ryan’s business ventures, he is the former Chairman of the Medicine Hat Police Commission, Chair of Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams and is a member of The Alberta Business Link’s Board of Directors. Ryan was named Business Person of the Year in 2011 by the Medicine Hat College and was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 for service to his community.

Meet the 2014 BDC Mentorship Award Finalists

These individuals were selected by Regional Selection Committees to represent all of Canada in competition for the inaugural 2014 BDC Mentorship Award Presented by Futurpreneur Canada.

Ellen Farrel

“Ellen’s infectious passion for entrepreneurship is directly responsible for inspiring many of her students to pursue their own businesses. This passion gave me the confidence, knowledge and support to pursue my own business, which I am still running more than seven years later.”

Duncan Enman, mentee

Ellen Farrell
Associate Professor, The Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University
Region Represented: East – Halifax, NS

Ellen has formally mentored four professionals, and has had more than 15 long-term mentoring relationships over the past 15 years. She has spoken at numerous entrepreneurial events, worked with a local grassroots organization to help setup mentoring partnerships for students, and is on the board for Enactus. Ellen also created an honour award for young entrepreneurs who are working to put themselves through university, and recently began working with the province of Nova Scotia to conduct a review of government venture capital.

Ken Leblanc

“Ken is a very smart guy. He’s easy to talk to and always has time for me when I need it. I’ve learned so much from him, and I wish I could carry him around with me in my back pocket!”

Jason Montefrisco, mentee

Ken Leblanc
President and CEO,
Region Represented: East – Moncton, NB

Ken has formally mentored six entrepreneurs, and has informally mentored 20 more. He initiated a one-of-a-kind opportunity by awarding a franchise license as a prize on a special Ypreneur Gene edition of Dragon’s Den in 2009, and speaks publicly on the challenges facing youth in business.

Christiane Bélanger

“Business angels are well known, but who would have thought that with SAGE mentorat d’affaires, I would meet another type of angel: my mentor, Christiane Bélanger. Christiane has been working with me for 8 months now and she has allowed me to progress the equivalent of 5 years, both personally and professionally.”

Amélie Doyon, mentee

Christiane Bélanger
Choreographer, ballet producer, director, and founder of four Quebec-based dance organizations
Region Represented: Central – Quebec City, Quebec

Christiane’s approach to mentoring is to listen and talk from her heart. As a mentee herself, she believes mentoring is the greatest gift an entrepreneur can give themselves.

Vicky Saunders

“Vicki has made a lifetime commitment to mentoring young entrepreneurs, helping them reach their true potential and create the world they want to live in. She is a force to be reckoned with as the impact she is creating on the world is not only being recognized through her own entrepreneurial ventures, but is reverberating through each and every one of her mentees.”

Anne Marie Paquette, mentee

Vicky Saunders
Founder, SheEO
Region Represented: Central – Toronto, ON

Vicki is a serial entrepreneur, author, passionate mentor, advisor-at-large to the next generation of change makers and leading advocate for entrepreneurship as a way of creating positive transformation in the world. Vicki was selected as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum and is a regular speaker at conferences around the world.

Gary Bizzo

“If it weren’t for Gary I wouldn’t be the successful business woman I am today, proud of what I’ve accomplished in a short time, with big investors on board. I am fortunate to have Gary as a mentor and a part of our advisory board as well.”

Azadeh Nobakht, mentee

Gary Bizzo
CEO, Bizzo Management Group
Region Represented: West – Vancouver, BC

Gary has been a Mentor and/or Business Coach to more than business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs. His latest book, “How to Start a Successful Business – The First Time!” is on Amazon and has been nominated for the International 2014 Small Business Book Awards. He was a Nominee for the 2014 Small Business Influencer Award.

Terms & Conditions

The application period begins on February 2, 2016, at 12:00:01 a.m. Eastern Time and ends on February 26, 2016, at 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time. No application submitted after 11:59:59 p.m. Eastern Time will be accepted. Only online applications will be accepted.


To be eligible for the BDC Mentorship Award contest (“the Contest”), the applicant must:

  1. Be a living Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  2. Have mentored entrepreneurs from two or more Canadian businesses that have shown demonstrable growth in revenue, sales or employees during the time of the mentorship.
  3. Have been involved in a minimum of two mentoring relationships lasting at least one year each.
  4. Volunteer their time as mentor (through an organizational mentoring initiative or by an oral or written agreement with an entrepreneur).
  5. Not have a financial interest or stand to make a financial gain from the entrepreneur’s business.

An applicant does not need to be a BDC client or a Futurpreneur Canada mentor to be eligible. BDC and Futurpreneur Canada employees and their families and 2015 contest judges and their families are not eligible.


To successfully enter the Contest, applicants must:

  1. Complete all required fields of the online application form; and
  2. Provide any relevant and supporting materials such as reports or samples.

BDC, Futurpreneur Canada, its advertising and promotion agencies and the Contest judges (collectively the “Contest Parties”) are not responsible for late, lost, misdirected, delayed, incomplete or incompatible application files.

By submitting an application file, the nominator, mentor and mentees agree that the application file comply with all conditions stated in the 2015 BDC Mentorship Award Terms and Conditions.

The Contest Parties will bear no liability, expressed or implied, regarding the use of the application file by the Contest Parties and shall be held harmless by any applicant in the event that it is subsequently discovered that the applicant has departed from or not fully complied with any of the Terms and Conditions.


By participating in the Contest, each applicant agrees to be bound by the 2015 BDC Mentorship Award Terms and Conditions and by their interpretation by BDC and Futurpreneur Canada, and further warrants and represents that his/her application:

  1. does not and will not violate any law, statute, ordinance or regulation; and
  2. is not defamatory, trade libelous or obscene, and further that it will not contain, depict, include, discuss or involve, without limitation, any of the following:
    • derogatory characterizations of any ethnic, racial, sexual or religious groups;
    • content that endorses, condones or discusses any illegal, inappropriate or risky activity, behavior or conduct;
    • personal information of individuals, including without limitation, names and addresses (physical or email);
    • conduct or other activities in violation of the Contest Terms and Conditions;
    • commercial messages, comparisons or solicitations for products or services, other than the business represented in the application form; and
    • any other content that is or could be considered inappropriate, unsuitable or offensive, all as determined by BDC, Futurpreneur Canada and/or the Contest judges at their sole discretion.

Any application file that BDC, Futurpreneur Canada and/or the Contest judges deem, in their sole discretion, to violate the Terms and Conditions will be rejected and the applicant will be disqualified.


Regional Selection Committee

Three selection committees – East (NL, PEI, NS and NB), Central (QC, ON and MB) and West (SK, AB, BC, YK, NWT and NU) – comprised of a regional BDC representative, Futurpreneur Canada representative and an entrepreneur or mentor representative will review applications and evaluate them based on a standard evaluation grid.

The following components of the application file will be reviewed by individual judges:

  • Demonstration that the mentor builds awareness and promotes the value of mentorship in his or her community;
  • Demonstration of business impact or growth (for example, but not limited to: revenue, number of employees, sales, etc.);
  • Demonstration that the mentor contributed to measureable success (for example, but not limited to: increase of confidence, financial literacy, time management skills, etc.); and
  • Validation of his or her contributions by references/entrepreneurs-mentees.

Once all application files have been evaluated, the Regional Selection Committees will determine who should be considered as potential finalists from their respective provinces or territories. Up to two mentees of the potential finalists will then be contacted by phone or email and one mentee will be required to submit their company’s financial information (revenues, profit and loss) within two business days of notification. If such financial information is not available, finalists will be required to submit the balance sheet and internal income statements for the past 12 months, together with the previous year’s, as well as any supporting materials to establish the claims made in the application form.

Upon receipt of financial information, the full application file will be subjected to due diligence, including reference checks. Once the due diligence has been completed, the potential finalist for each region will be contacted by email or phone early April, 2015 during business hours (Eastern Time). If applicants have not been contacted by mid-April, they may assume that they are not among the finalists.

Before being declared a regional finalist, the selected applicant must sign and return a declaration and release prepared by Futurpreneur Canada, which, among other things must:

  1. be received by Futurpreneur Canada within two business day of notification;
  2. confirm compliance with the Terms and Conditions; and
  3. acknowledge acceptance of the finalist designation or potential BDC Mentorship Award Finalist if applicable;
  4. release the Contest Parties and each of their respective agents, employees, directors, successors, and assigns from any liability in connection with this contest;
  5. agree to indemnify the Contest Parties and each of their respective agents, employees, directors, successors, and assigns against any and all claims, damages, liabilities, costs, and expenses arising from the use of his/her application, including without limitation, any claim that his/her application infringes a proprietary interest of any third party.

If a potential finalist for a region cannot be reached by phone or email or fails to return the above declaration and release within the specified time, he/she will forfeit his/her opportunity to become a finalist for the BDC Mentorship Award. In such an event, the applicant whose application scored the second highest by the selection committee for his/her respective region will be deemed to be the alternate potential finalist for his/her province/the combined territories. The same administrative procedure as mentioned above will apply to the alternate potential finalist. If the alternate finalist cannot be reached by phone or email or fails to return the required documents within the specified timeframe, he/she will forfeit his/her opportunity to be a finalist.

National Selection Committee

Following the due diligence process, the finalist from each province and the three territories will be forwarded to the National Selection Committee, who will interview the finalists in person or online mid-April. The winner of the BDC Mentorship Award will be chosen by the National Selection Committee based on interviews with all finalists.


The winning mentor will receive:

  • An invitation to the Action Entrepreneurship: Growing Young Enterprise Canadian Summit in Toronto in May, with travel and accommodation included (as specified by Futurpreneur Canada and BDC), and the option of delivering an acceptance speech to an audience of hundreds of entrepreneurs and business, policy, education, non-profit and other leaders aiming to expand youth entrepreneurship in Canada;
  • Prominence in a national press release and through social media, including background information about his or her accomplishments and national recognition;
  • Offers to participate in BDC and/or Futurpreneur events during 2015; and
  • A trophy, recognizing him or her as the Recipient of the 2015 BDC Mentorship Award Presented by Futurpreneur Canada.


The Contest Parties will keep all applications confidential. Unless the applicant authorizes BDC and Futurpreneur Canada to contact him/her for marketing or business development purposes, the personal data, information and documents included in the application file (“the Information”) will be kept confidential by BDC and Futurpreneur Canada according to their privacy policies and will be used only during the evaluation process and in the course of administering the Contest. In the course of an application’s evaluation, the Information will be divulged only to parties who are authorized to review it. If the applicant authorizes BDC to contact him/her for marketing or business development purposes, the Information may be provided to a BDC or Futurpreneur Canada representative, who will get in touch with the applicant to evaluate his/her needs. Notwithstanding the above, if a mentor is selected as a finalist, the finalist hereby authorizes BDC and Futurpreneur Canada to use the responses included in his/her application file, BDC and Futurpreneur Canada’s websites and other advertising/commercial material developed by BDC and Futurpreneur Canada, without the need to obtain any additional consent from the finalist. No financial data on the mentee’s company will be divulged. In all cases, the finalist’s Information will be retained by BDC and Futurpreneur Canada for analysis or statistical purposes, among others.

Each applicant expressly consents to BDC and Futurpreneur Canada, its agents and/or representatives, storing, sharing and using the personal information submitted with his/her entry only for the purpose of administering the Contest and in accordance with BDC and Futurpreneur Canada’s respective privacy policies, unless the applicant otherwise agrees.


Without limitation, the Contest Parties will not be liable for:

  • website failure during the Contest;
  • any technical malfunction or other problems relating to the telephone network or lines, computer systems, servers, access providers, computer equipment or software; or
  • the failure of any application file to be received by Futurpreneur Canada, its advertising and promotion agencies or the Contest judges for any reason including, but not limited to, technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website; or any combination of the above.

The Contest parties shall not be responsible for any errors or omissions in the advertising or administration of this Contest.

The Contest Parties will not be liable for any damage to an Applicant’s application or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from participating or downloading any material for the Contest.


By entering the Contest, the applicant hereby:

(i) agrees to release and hold harmless the Contest Parties and each of their respective agents, employees, directors, successors, and assigns from and against any and all claims based on publicity rights, defamation, invasion of privacy, copyright infringement, trademark infringement or any other intellectual property-related cause of action;

(ii) in consideration of being selected as a finalist or winner and receiving the BDC Mentorship Award described above, agrees to the use of his/her name, business, city, province or territory of residence, and/or photograph/logo for advertising or publicity purposes by BDC, Futurpreneur Canada or its designees, the whole without any right for compensation and without the need for BDC, Futurpreneur Canada or its designees to obtain any further authorization or consent.

In the event of any conflict, inconsistency or discrepancy between any advertising relating to this Contest and the terms of the Terms and Conditions, the terms of the Terms and Conditions shall govern. In the event of any conflict, inconsistency or discrepancy between the French and English versions of the Terms and Conditions, the terms of the English version of the Terms and Conditions shall govern.

BDC and Futurpreneur Canada reserve the right, without any previous notice, to withdraw or modify this Contest and/or the Terms and Conditions without any justification to the applicants including, but not limited to, in the event of an advertising or administrative error, omission, technical problem, computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failure or any other cause beyond the reasonable control of BDC and Futurpreneur Canada that interferes with the proper conduct of the Contest as contemplated by the Terms and Conditions.

Any attempt to deliberately damage any website or to undermine the legitimate operation of this Contest is a violation of criminal and civil laws and should such an attempt be made, BDC and Futurpreneur Canada reserve the right to seek remedies and damages to the fullest extent permitted by law.

The decisions of BDC, Futurpreneur Canada and the Contest judges with respect to all aspects of this Contest are final and binding on all applicants without right of appeal.