Rise Asset Development announces $1 million in new funding from Bell Let's Talk and RBC at the 4th annual Garfinkel Awards for Entrepreneurial Achievement

TORONTO, Jan. 12, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - Rise Asset Development, which provides low interest small business loans, training and mentorship to men and women with a history of addiction or mental health challenges, today announced two gifts totaling $1 million from Bell Let's Talk and the RBC Foundation. The announcement was made at an event honouring the winners of the annual Dr. Paul E. Garfinkel Awards for Entrepreneurial Achievement.

"Every day we give thanks to our Rise entrepreneurs for giving us the privilege of working with them in support of their businesses. If there wasn't such a robust amount of untapped talent out there, Rise's attempts to support business growth would fall flat," says Jodi Butts, executive director of Rise. "Small loans have big impact which is why we welcome the extraordinary support of Bell Let's Talk and the RBC Foundation. We are grateful that these great leading organizations have chosen to ally with and invest in Rise's efforts to support businesses led by entrepreneurs with a history of mental health and addiction challenges. The impact will be a future economy where men and women with a history of mental health and addiction challenges prosper through entrepreneurship within a fully supportive Canada."

Bell Let's Talk and the RBC Foundation are each contributing $500,000 to support Rise's programs. These generous gifts will be used to facilitate the expansion of Rise programs across Ontario and into additional regions around Canada. Through this expansion, Rise expects to provide a minimum of 50 new loans each year to assist entrepreneurs with the start-up and growth of small businesses.

"Bell Let's Talk is proud to partner with RBC to enable the expansion of Rise Asset Development programs supporting entrepreneurs who have struggled with mental health issues," said Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let's Talk. "By helping talented people support their aspirations, the program is improving the quality of individual lives while also reducing the stigma around mental illness."

"Having mental health or addiction challenges should not preclude young adults from any business opportunities, small or big," said Valerie Chort, Vice President, Corporate Citizenship, RBC. "We are eager to work with Rise and Bell to increase access and ease of navigation to mental health services, offer mentorship and hold open whatever doors are needed to offer these entrepreneurs the chance they need to operate a successful business."  

"The gifts from RBC and Bell Let's Talk are an exceptional example of how corporate Canada can play a meaningful and transformational role in defeating mental health stigma and contribute to better quality of life for people with a history of mental health and addictions challenges. By offering financial support and volunteering as mentors to Rise supported entrepreneurs, we can all personally and professionally make a tremendous positive difference," says Robert J. McGuire, Chair of the Board of Directors of Rise.

Garfinkel Awards Winners
The Garfinkel Awards recognize the outstanding personal and business achievements of people who have received support through Rise. The Awards also acknowledge the leadership and inspiring contributions of Dr. Paul E. Garfinkel, through his role as founding President and CEO of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and his leading role in the advocacy for psychiatric science and reducing the stigma associated with mental health challenges and addictions.

Rise's EnterpRISEr of the Year Award
The winners of Rise's EnterpRISEr of the Year award are Natasha and Andrew Akiwenzie, owners of Akiwenzie's Fish & More (AFM), a family fishing business that operates out of Neyaashiinigmiing, Ontario, on the Bruce Peninsula, supplying noted Toronto restaurants. A loan from Rise enabled AFM to put a walk-in freezer into full operation enabling them to purchase fish from other local fishermen and store more fresh fish, which has grown their business.

Rise's Peer Powered EnterpRISEr of the Year Award 
Nicole Minerve is the winner of Rise's Peer Powered EnterpRISEr of the Year award. She is the owner of Toronto-based Apanaki Designs (AD). Her business focuses on multi-media acrylic artwork incorporating African textiles collage on canvas. AD offers fine art in the form of original and commissioned works, posters, postcards, archival prints and merchandise. Ms. Minerve is a graduate of the Rise Peer Supported Lending Program, which provided her with the knowledge and skills to build her business plan, as well as a sounding board of experts and entrepreneurs.

RISE-ing Young Entrepreneur Award
David Cameron-Arthurs is winner of the RISE-ing Young Entrepreneur Award. He is the owner of knock-OUT, an Ontario-based social enterprise dedicated to building alliances between LGBTQ athletes and their straight peers. Mr. Cameron-Arthurs is a graduate of Rise's award-winning Youth Small Business Program, where he learned, amongst other things, how building a strong, healthy, and supportive social circle is important for one's overall well-being and success.

"It helps to know that you are not alone in our day to day triumphs and challenges," said award winner Nicole Minerve. "It gives you peace of mind and helps to support you despite your challenges with mental illness. Once you are able to be present and professional for your business, anything is possible."

About Rise
Rise provides low interest small business loans and mentorship to men and women living with mental illness and addictions who are interested in pursuing self-employment but are unable to obtain traditional financing. The Rotman School of Management and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health participate in advisory functions, lending their respective expertise for business mentoring and mental health supports and services to the benefit of Rise clients.

Rise is supported by founding donor Sandra Rotman, the Government of Ontario and impact donors: RBC Foundation, Bell Let's Talk; and Janis Rotman.  Rise is online at www.riseassetdevelopment.com.

About Bell Let's Talk
The Bell Let's Talk initiative promotes Canadian mental health with national awareness and anti-stigma campaigns, like Clara's Big Ride for Bell Let's Talk and Bell Let's Talk Day, and significant Bell funding of community care and access, research, and workplace initiatives. To learn more, please visit Bell.ca/LetsTalk.

About RBC
Royal Bank of Canada is Canada's largest bank, and one of the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. We are one of North America's leading diversified financial services companies, and provide personal and commercial banking, wealth management, insurance, investor services and capital markets products and services on a global basis. We employ approximately 81,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 16 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 37 other countries. For more information, please visit rbc.com.

RBC helps communities prosper, supporting a broad range of community initiatives through donations, sponsorships and employee volunteer activities. In 2014, we contributed more than $111 million to causes worldwide, including donations and community investments of more than $76 million and $35 million in sponsorships.

Media inquiries: 

Jodi L.H. Butts
Executive Director
Rise Asset Development
(416) 978-5530

Jacqueline Michelis
Bell Media Relations

Jason Graham
Manager, Brand & Corporate Citizenship Communications, RBC
(416) 313-5783


SOURCE Bell Canada