Backgrounder: TCHC’s Be.Build.Brand. July 2021 Finalist and Winner bios

TORONTO, July 30, 2021—Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) is pleased to congratulate the three new entrepreneurs who have won its 5th annual Be.Build.Brand. (B3) business start-up contest, earning pitch prizes funded by B3 sponsor Scotiabank.  TCHC also congratulates the six finalists. 

This year's finalist pitch contest, held on the evening of July 29th, was held virtually for the second year in a row. The pitch night is the culmination of a 10-week process where participants take part in workshops and have access to a broad range of business and marketing advice and support to help them in the process of turning their ideas into viable businesses. 

First Prize – Rayya Brown (she, her) 

Ms. Brown's company concept, Ray Soleil Naturals, approaches hair care for curls, coils and beards with a holistic lens. She says that by using more than 44 oils and 38 herbs from 25+ countries and 6 continents, Ray Soleil Naturals taps into the best that nature has to offer for her clients. As the first prize winner, she received a pitch prize of $2,500 from sponsor Scotiabank, as well as a range of marketing, design and mentoring supports. 

First Prize – Rayya Brown (she, her)

Second Prize ­– Srimathanky Srikugan (she/her)

Srimathanky Srikugan is an entrepreneur, innovator, and creative professional. As a nursing student, she created her business, Daringly Caring with a mission is to provide self-care tools geared towards good mental healthMs. Srikugan created a customizable journal and introduce other approaches aims to bring more wellness to frontline workers. In her words: "Insufficient long-term mental wellness programming in addition to mental health training not incorporated in education curricula shows a lack of care and manifests as mental health issues among frontline workers." She receives $1,500 toward her business, donated by Scotiabank.

Second Prize ­– Srimathanky Srikugan (she/her)

Third Prize – Myuri Srikugan (she/her) 

Ms. Srikugan describes herself as an artist, a student, and an entrepreneur. Her business responds to the concerns she shares with many of her friends around issues with women's safety across Canada. Ms. Srikugan says: "In the context of laws that don't allow for many forms of self-defense, I created "That Good Stuff", a brand dedicated to create equality through equity by a team of three women." Her goal is to empower individuals, especially women, to make them feel more secure through "That Good Stuff" safety products and services. She receives a pitch prize of $1,000, sponsored by Scotiabank.

Third Prize – Myuri Srikugan (she/her)

Six other finalists in the July 29, 2021 Be.Build.Brand. Pitch Contest

Here are the six additional finalists who also presented their business ideas live before judges and during the public online pitch contest last night.

Name: JC Pearce (he/him)

Black Plantain features an online platform and mobile app which supports black-owned businesses. Mr. Pearce says the platform he developed enables black community members to receive discounts at black-owned businesses through a coalition loyalty program and a shop-able business directory. Founder JC Pearce describes his business as, "A black-owned company supporting black people supporting black-owned things."

Name:  Yahya Amin (he/him)

Club YRB is a multi-media studio, designed to open doorways and nurture artists in a safe and enriching environment. Notes founder Yahya Amin: "We see no colours, no sexuality, no hoods...just art, & dreams."

Name: Shebah Toussaint (she/her) 

Ava Grace Holistic Skincare is an all-natural brand that focuses on customers' wellbeing through the use of products that care for both the body and mental health.  Ms. Toussaint explains: "We devote ourselves to putting love into all aspects of our business, as it is an extension of who we are and what we pride ourselves in. Love Always!" Love Always is also the company slogan.

Name: Abdi Kassim (he/him)

SP Toronto is a business hub aimed at local youth. Founder Abdi Kassim states it is meant to become a platform for local young entrepreneurs to connect meaningfully with other businesses and creative sources, access resources and add value to their community.

Name: Justice Anderson (she/her)

Justice Anderson is the CEO of Exclusive Cosmetics, a cosmetics company. In her words: "We believe that if we teach women self-care, and the importance of self-love this will instill confidence, and allow them to feel their best! We cater to superwomen on the go, we can't create time, but we can create products that will save time."

Name: Deangela Provo (she/her)

Deangela Provo is an entrepreneur and the CEO of Premium Chick, a women's clothing and accessories boutique offering handmade garments and accessories made with upcycled materials, encouraging environmentally friendly fashion at cost effective prices.

The B3 Program

A key feature of the program includes 10 weeks of business courses, including exposure to relevant entrepreneurship content, industry guest speakers, and capacity-building opportunities. In addition, the winner receives $2,500, and smaller prizes are awarded to the runners up. The program supports entrepreneurial ideas in the pre-incubation stage and helps participants to turn their ideas into viable business plans.

Program Partners

The B3 program partners are key to the program's success. Partners are:

  • Digital Main Street
  • City of Toronto
  • George Brown College/StartGBC
  • Scotiabank (Official Sponsor)
  • TrevorPeter

The Judges for the July 29, 2021 Virtual Pitch Context

  • Diana de La Cruz, Associate Director, Global Banking AML Quality Assurance, Scotiabank
  • Luisa Andrews, Vice President, Information Technology Services at Toronto Community Housing Corporation
  • Neal Lilliot, Manager, Start GBC at George Brown College
  • Iva Druzic, Head of Community & Brand at TrevorPeter 
  • Monah Water, Founder/CEO of Eloquent Expressions and B3 Alumni of 2017 cohort

Special guest speakers: Trishawna Straw, Founder of Alecia Beauty and B3 First Place Winner for 2020 and Nadia Gouveia, Toronto Community Housing Director for Programs and Partnerships.


Read the 2021 B3 News release

About Toronto Community Housing (TCHC)

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 buildings represent a $10-billion public asset.

Media contact:

TCHC Media Line 416-737-1352 or