Putting purpose ahead of profits: three Canadians to be honoured for social entrepreneurship

EY celebrates social entrepreneurs with EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Special Citation awards

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(Toronto, 9 September 2015) Alberta’s Alfred Nikolai (Habitat for Humanity Edmonton), Ontario’s Michel Labbé (Options for Homes Non-Profit Corporation) and New Brunswick’s Jeff Schnurr (Community Forests International) are social entrepreneurs who are luminaries in their fields. Each lives and does business with a powerful sense of purpose that drives them to build better outcomes for people in Canada and beyond. At its upcoming regional Entrepreneur Of The Year galas, EY will recognize their efforts with Special Citation awards for social entrepreneurship.

“Social entrepreneurs strive for innovation and growth, but their ultimate purpose is to make a positive impact on society,” says Colleen McMorrow, Partner and Entrepreneur Of The Year national program director. “This year’s social entrepreneurship award winners show the power of determination, hard work and ingenuity in a quest to make the world a better place. What can be more admirable than that?”

Working for the greater good can be exhilarating, but also immensely challenging. What motivates these social change agents? While their ventures are different, they all have an unwavering belief in their vision and responsibility to make the world better.

“My vision for Habitat for Humanity Edmonton is an entirely self-sustainable organization that serves over 100 families each year. It’s important to me that we continue to find sustainable ways of maintaining growth while pursuing our mission and continuing to draw the community into the heart of our cause. This is certainly the legacy I aim to leave at Habitat for Humanity Edmonton.”
Alfred Nikolai, President and CEO, Habitat for Humanity Edmonton

Alfred Nikolai working at Habitat for Humanity Edmonton’s Frame Game in 2010

Alfred Nikolai working at Habitat for Humanity Edmonton’s Frame Game in 2010, when eight teams each framed a home in one day.

“I’ve been driven by one thought since I was 16 — doing the most good for the most people. The Options for Homes vision is aligned with this goal. Our business model is based on the idea that any profit should be reinvested into the community where it operates — whether in Canada or across the world. I hope this model will be used for a variety of community initiatives, long after I’m gone.”
Michel Labbé, President and CEO, Options for Homes

Michel Labbé is speaking to purchasers of Options for Homes’ Danforth Village Estates condominium

Michel Labbé is speaking to purchasers of Options for Homes’ Danforth Village Estates condominium.  Every six weeks, the purchasers meet as a building co-operative to receive updates on their new homes and to provide input on building features. 

“In 2015 it’s not just our responsibility to figure out how to live on the planet without destroying it, it’s our potential. I believe that people can tackle huge challenges – climate change, poverty, social inequality – and the power to make that happen comes from within us all. There’s so much power in believing in your community to make change, to take dreams seriously.”
Jeff Schnurr, Executive Director, Community Forests International

Jeff Schnurr shows a group of Tanzanian women how make fuel briquettes from recycled paper.

Jeff Schnurr shows a group of Tanzanian women how make fuel briquettes from recycled paper. The briquettes are used for cooking and serve as a substitute for environmentally damaging charcoal.

“These entrepreneurs have an immense impact on their communities, and indeed how the world works,” says McMorrow. “We’re thrilled to honour them at our upcoming Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards galas.”

Notable past honourees include Marc and Craig Kielburger, Free The Children (2008); Greg Overholt, Students Offering Support (SOS) (2011); Gabriel Bran Lopez, Fusion Jeunesse (2011); Diane Johnson, Descriptive Video Works Inc. (2011); Scott Gilmore, Building Markets (2013); Claudine Labelle, Fillactive (2013); John Mighton, JUMP Math (2014); and Tim Jones, Artscape (2014).

More information
For event updates, visit us at ey.com/ca/eoy or follow us on Twitter @EYCanada and use #EOY to join the conversation.


EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2015 Special Citation award recipients:

Alfred Arthur Nikolai
Habitat for Humanity Edmonton | Edmonton, Alberta
Mobilizes volunteers and community partners to build affordable housing and promote home ownership as a means to breaking the cycle of poverty.

Alfred will be honoured at the Prairies Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards gala in Calgary on 15 October 2015. For more information please contact Louise Hyland at 403 206 5372 or Louise.Hyland@ca.ey.com.

Michel Labbé
Options for Homes Non-Profit Corporation | Toronto, Ontario
Provides cost-effective housing by offering down payment help to households with incomes as low as $20,000, without permanent government subsidy.

Michel will be honoured at the Ontario Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards gala in Toronto on 29 October 2015. For more information, please contact Julie Olden at 416 943 2062 or Julie.Olden@ca.ey.com.

Jeff Schnurr
Community Forests International | Sackville, New Brunswick
An international organization that uses sustainable technology, farming and forestry to help rural communities kick-start economic growth and adapt to climate change.

Jeff will be honoured at the Atlantic Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards gala in St. John’s on 8 October 2015. For more information, please contact Kathleen Porter at 506 634 2135 or Kathleen.Potter@ca.ey.com

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About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The unique award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential, and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 140 cities in 50 countries.

The 2015 social entrepreneurship independent judging panel consists of Allyson Hewitt, Social Fellow, Social Innovations at MaRS Discovery District; John Mighton, Founder, JUMP Math and 2014 EOY National Special Citation Recipient, Social Entrepreneur; Greg Overholt, Founder, Students Offering Support and 2011 EOY Ontario Special Citation Recipient, Social Entrepreneur; and Nancy Wright, Vice-President, Marketing at GLOBE Foundation.

This year's national program sponsors are TEC Canada, La Presse, RDI, TMX, Merrill DataSite, Kira Talent, Air Canada, The Printing House Limited. Atlantic regional sponsors are Progress Media, Royal Bank of Canada and McInnes Cooper. Ontario regional sponsors are Captivate Network, OT Communications and RBC Royal Bank. Prairies regional sponsors are Business in Calgary and Business in Edmonton.

About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. For more than 150 years in Canada, we’ve delivered the insights and quality services that help build trust and confidence in capital markets here and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

For more information about the program, FAQs and key dates, please visit ey.com/ca/EOY.
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