Immigrant Entrepreneurship Awards of the City of OttawaFebruary 3, 2013
The City of Ottawa has been key in the adoption and implementation of the Ottawa Immigration Strategy (OIS). It aligned OIS priorities with the City’s strategic plan and is now developing an immigration strategy of its own that reinforces OIS priorities.
In addition, the City’s Economic Development department launched the Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneurship Awards at the first annual Ottawa Immigration Forum on October 1, 2012. The awards showcase the entrepreneurial spirit that immigrants bring to the city. This ground-breaking initiative helps shift the perception of immigrants as an economic drain to one that recognizes the contributions that newcomers make to the local economy through business development, job creation, enhanced exports, global connectivity, mentorship, and philanthropy.
The profiles of the 51 entrepreneurs nominated for awards are impressive. They show a diversity of talent, creativity, entrepreneurialism, and community-building. Many of the nominees have created businesses in the IT sector, which ranges from small software development start-ups to advanced sonar, radar, test and measurement applications with multi-million dollar annual revenues. There were also nominees from financial and business services, food services, and fashion design, as well as a business specializing in custom handcrafted eco-friendly eyewear.
A panel of eight business and community leaders assessed nominees in five categories: young entrepreneurs; women entrepreneurs; innovation-oriented enterprises; social enterprises (with a social, environmental or cultural mandate); and fast-growth enterprises. The nominees were evaluated for their contributions to the local economy, among entrepreneurs, and to the broader community as a result of socially responsible behavior.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson presented the awards and thanked nominees for making a difference to the city.
The awards ceremony generated considerable local media coverage, which helped raise awareness about the benefits of immigration. By highlighting the concrete achievements of some of Ottawa’s most successful immigrant entrepreneurs, this initiative develops a new storyline that has the potential to change stereotypes.