Backgrounder: 2018 Be.Build.Brand. Program

Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) has developed a 12-week entrepreneurship program for tenants between the ages of 18 and 29. The program, known as Be.Build.Brand. (B3), offers mentorship and capacity-building opportunities to equip young tenants with the hard and soft skills needed to turn their ideas into viable business ventures.

  • Phase 1 (BE): Self-assessment and evaluation of business objectives.
  • Phase 2 (BUILD): Training and development on the fundamentals of building a business from the ground up.
  • Phase 3 (BRAND): Teaches youth the importance of networking, marketing, and pitching their business idea.

The B3 Pitch Competition was held at George Brown College (TCHC's venue sponsor) on December 12, 2018. The competition is a culminating event that offers students a chance to pitch their idea to an esteemed panel of judges, and potentially win funds to propel their venture to the next step. Prizing allotments were $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place. 

Toronto Community Housing entrepreneurship competition winners

ERMIAS NAGATU - $2,000 (First Prize)

Co-founder of Wishplay, a nonprofit that uses technology for social good. The not-for-profit company's mission is to develop simple and easy-to-use solutions to allow patients to live beyond the limitations of their illness or disability. Today, they accomplish this by using a low-cost virtual reality solution to grant wishes to terminally ill patients.

ALESHA STEPHENSON - $1,000 (Second Prize)

Founder of The Phoenix House, a non-for-profit organization geared toward the rehabilitation and social reframing of at-risk men who had lived through incarceration and young mothers facing difficult child custody and other legal issues.

NIASHA LEWISHENRY - $500 (Third Prize)

She was a graphic designer by trade and upon graduating quickly realized that she could combine her cooking and designing skills. That is when she founded Delicious Decor, a catering and customized crafts service providing clients with baked goods and customized novelty items.

Additional projects presented by Be.Build.Brand. participants included:


Founder of Athletic Academic Project (AAP), a company focused on assisting high school athletes transitioning into postsecondary. When gun violence left him injured with a lengthy healing journey ahead of him, there was no structured support or guidance to help him get back on track. AAP aims to create a system that familiarizes athletes with the process of reaching out to coaches, teams, and schools to maximize exposure.


Sirin's college experience did not provide the kind of business experience he was searching for. When he noticed the large gap between available raw data and creating applied strategies with that raw data, he founded ThinkRonin Data & Research; the company aims to create effective tools for businesses by making data relevant to communities/organizations and politicians.


Darius found he couldn't afford the kind of athletic apparel his fellow athletes would wear and was made fun of because of it. That led him to found Black Diamond Athletics, an athletic apparel company that provides quality and affordable compression shorts for athletes.

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About Toronto Community Housing:

Toronto Community Housing is Canada's largest social housing provider. We are owned by the City of Toronto and provide homes for nearly 60,000 low- and moderate-income households in more than 100 of the city's neighbourhoods. Our 2,100 buildings represent a $10-billion public asset.

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