Toronto Community Housing announces winners of sixth Be.Build.Brand. Pitch Prize Contest for youth entrepreneurs
TORONTO, December 14, 2021 – Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) is pleased to congratulate the winners of the sixth edition of the Be.Build.Brand. business start-up contest. Thanks to the generous support of Scotiabank – Official Sponsor of the Pitch Prizes – these entrepreneurs and tenants of Toronto Community Housing will have the opportunity to turn their ideas into viable businesses.
The bi-annual pitch contest was held virtually on Thursday, December 9. Seven finalists presented their ideas to a panel of judges for the chance to win start-up funding. 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, as well as support for them to turn their ideas into successful businesses.
The contest's first place winner was Ritesha Thomas. Ms. Thomas's company, Carefully Crafted Toys (CC Toys), provides a range of toys and accessories – including dolls, action figures, plushies and games – inclusive for children born with rare medical conditions such as symbrachydactyly, vitiligo and cleft lips. Its products will enable children to see themselves reflected in the world around them. As the first prize winner, Ms. Thomas received a Scotiabank Pitch Prize of $2,500, as well as a range of marketing, design and mentoring supports.
The second prize of $1,500 was awarded to Jasmine Swimmer. Her company, Soft & Butter, is an Afro-Indigenous-owned skincare company that was born out of the pandemic. When Ms. Swimmer struggled to find products to treat her eczema, she went back to her roots and used traditional Indigenous herbs to curate her own skin butters. Soft & Butter is a celebration of navigating through skin issues and reclaiming Indigenous plant culture through skin care.
The third-prize winner was Isaiah Bazilio. A Guyanese innovator with a passion for entrepreneurship and community leadership, his business, Oyrbt, is a technology company that creates synergetic recording assistive devices that enhance visual and audio media. He hopes Oyrbt will be a leading visual media enhancing device that will help its users connect with media and each other. He plans to push the limits of the streaming world experience. He earned a $1,000 prize.
In addition to Scotiabank Pitch Prizes, winners will receive follow-up mentoring and support, including free branding and marketing services from independent creative agency trevor//peter and access to Digital Main Street for website development.
Scotiabank's investment is part of the ScotiaRISE community investment initiative that aims to promote economic resilience among disadvantaged groups with an overall investment of $500 million over the next 10 years.
Be.Build.Brand. is a 10-week entrepreneurship program offered to TCHC tenants between the ages of 18 and 29. Featuring industry guest speakers and business-building opportunities, the program supports business ideas in the pre-incubation stage and empowers participants to realize their entrepreneurial dreams. Partners for the program include Scotiabank (Official Sponsor of Pitch Prizes), the City of Toronto, Digital Main Street, George Brown College/StartGBC, and trevor//peter.
"We're grateful to Scotiabank for its investment in our Be.Build.Brand. entrepreneurship program. Their support enables us to provide an invaluable opportunity for our young entrepreneurs to fulfil their potential and achieve their business goals."
- Jag Sharma, President and CEO, Toronto Community Housing
"Scotiabank is proud to support TCHC's Be.Build.Brand. entrepreneurship program and empower Toronto Community Housing tenants to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. Through ScotiaRISE we are partnering with programs and organizations across our footprint to help remove barriers to career advancement for disadvantaged groups."
- Sandra Odendahl, Scotiabank's Vice President and Global Head of Sustainability
About Toronto Community Housing (TCHC)
Toronto Community Housing (www.torontohousing.ca) 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.