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Top Canadian women entrepreneurs honoured at 2011 awards

By Linda Plater |

As one of the fastest growing business segments in Canada, women are succeeding in industries previously dominated by men such as: finance, film, construction, oil and gas, and transportation.

This year's RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur  Awards at Toronto's Fairmont Royal York celebrated the leadership and accomplishments of seven women who are leaders in their respective fields.

Rona Ambrose, Minister for the Status of Women stressed the importance of women-lead businesses in job creation and in the country's prosperity. Currently, 821,000 self-employed women contribute $18 billion to our economy.

Women who dream of starting or running their own business, and young women in particular, look to other women who have earned prestige and success in their field of expertise.   An award event brings out not only the economic stars, but also showcases role models and possible mentors for up and coming business leaders.

So far over 7,000 women from their 20s to their mid-eighties, from every sector of the economy, have been nominated for the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. Ninety eight awards have been presented for outstanding entrepreneurial achievement since 1992.

The 2011 awards had winners in six categories: Start-up, Impact, Momentum, Sustainability, Trailblazer and Excellence. The revenues from this year's winning businesses range from $250,000 to $750 million.

Profiles of the Winners


Jenny Munford of Creative Bube Tube grew her creative ad agency from her home office on $3,000.  Her philosophy is that the company should be a playground for adults and that work should be fun!  It looks like fun and success go hand in hand as she sets her sights on opening 14 offices worldwide by 2020, and providing employment opportunities for hundreds.


Kim Rudd, Willis College started out in the co-operative nursery school scene over 25 years ago and since then has created over 50 jobs and helped thousands retrain for new careers in her Cobourg community.  Giving back was a theme echoed at the award ceremony and Rudd exemplified the positive impact her business has had on people around her.


For the first time, two women, Dr. Munira Jivraj, Millennium Dental and Gloria Rajkumar, SIMAC Canada Inc. shared the Momentum award. Both women of immigrant origins demonstrated phenomenal growth in their businesses and dedication to embracing new challenges and opportunities in Canada.   Dr. Jivraj is taking cosmetic dentistry to a new level while Rajkumar's medical assessment company is rapidly acquiring automobile insurance providers as clients.


Susanna Carson, BSI Biodegradable Solutions, distributor of 100% compostable food packaging products accepted the award for sustainability. She proudly exclaimed "While most businesses strive to make a mark and leave a legacy, our goal is to leave no traces that BSI packaging once existed." Carson's drive to improve compostable products has launched the biodiversity expert into new research and development as she leads an increasingly trustworthy company built on a solid knowledge base.  Clearly, she is heading in the right direction towards changing the way the market thinks about disposables.


Gabrielle Chevalier, Solutions 2 GO Inc. a video game distributor for 20 years has proven her world-wide success by growing her business to revenues of $750 million dollars in seven years with sights on at sales in the billions.  Unique and customized distribution solutions and quality service to suppliers and retailers makes her business a trailblazer in the industry.


Betty Anne Latrace-Henderson, Airline Hotels took her family-founded, second-generation, hospitality company and has grown it into a chain with  seven hotels in four provinces employing over 800 associates.  According to Latrace-Henderson, everybody has the ability to be a leader and leadership depends on people skills and can come in different forms.  Her key to success is based on connecting with and adding value to people.

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