Venture for Canada announces recipients of 2023 RBC Inclusive Entrepreneurship Award

The RBC Inclusive Entrepreneurship Award is a recognition award for Fellows who are ambitious recent graduates from Canadian post-secondary institutions, work in the startup sector, are leaders in their communities, and have demonstrated entrepreneurial characteristics.

September 5th, 2023

Venture for Canada (VFC), where Canada’s next entrepreneurial leaders get their start, announced the recipients of the 2023 Cohort Inclusive Entrepreneurship Awards funded by RBC Future Launch. VFC’s Fellowship program equips recent grads to enter in-demand roles in the startup and innovation sector by providing them with ongoing support through a year-long leadership program. The annual award launched in 2017 and recognizes Fellows of the most recent graduating cohort for their inclusive leadership skills over the one-year Venture for Canada Fellowship program. 

RBC Future Launch is RBC’s commitment to empowering today’s youth for the jobs of tomorrow. Through the program, Fellows develop the skills and network required to succeed in launching their careers while participating in immersive in-person training camps and hybrid professional development environments that include coaching, mentorship, and access to entrepreneurial leaders across Canada.

With RBC’s support, Venture for Canada has been able to deliver transformative experiences through our Fellowship Program. Together, we have equipped talented young professionals with the skills, networks, and resources necessary to thrive in the dynamic world of entrepreneurship. We have nurtured an innovation ecosystem through our continued partnership, fostering creativity and empowering aspiring entrepreneurs to build successful ventures.


“As the world becomes increasingly complex, entrepreneurial skills are necessary to create change. Young entrepreneurs can be the catalyst for systemic social change to build a more prosperous and inclusive society.  We are deeply grateful to RBC for their continued support of Venture for Canada over the last 9 years and the opportunities they’ve made available for young Canadian graduates through this programming” says Venture for Canada Founder & CEO, Scott Stirrett. 

“When young people succeed, we all succeed,” says
Mark BecklesVice President of Social Impact & Innovation, at RBC. “With organizations like Venture for Canada, we’re working to increase access to immersive development opportunities and educational resources that young Canadians need to build more inclusive companies and communities where everyone can reach their full potential.”

2023 RBC Inclusive Entrepreneurship Award Winners

Akanksha Yeola

Akanksha holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Economics. Immigrating from Mumbai to Canada in 2019, she brings a diverse academic background that fuels her dedication to positively impacting and influencing various spaces. Akanksha’s work revolves around empathy and people. She actively collaborates with organizations that prioritize Sustainability and Mental Health. Through her involvement with non-profit organizations, she discovered her passion for the UN-SDGs and even led a project at the esteemed Paris Peace Forum in 2018.

Andrew Canete

Andrew recently graduated with his honors Bachelor of Arts & Science and Business from McMaster University. He spent the last year in Quebec as an English language assistant to over 500 students and a piano teacher to a newcomer family. He currently sits as the Director of Workshops for Pinoys at Parliament, Canada’s largest Filipino youth conference. Andrew is passionate about sustainability, healthcare, and continued learning.  Andrew is excited to take the lessons from VFC matched with his people-centred motivation to a forward-facing role in Canada’s startup world!


Andrew Fullerton
British Columbia

Andrew graduated in 2022 with honours and distinction from the School for Advanced Studies in the Arts & Humanities at Western University, earning a Hon. B.A. in English Language & Literature and Arts & Humanities. Andrew Fullerton is an aspiring health innovator interested in the intersection of population health and the startup ecosystem. While at Western, he developed a deep interest in mental health, illness prevention, and the opportunities for digital innovation in public health.  Outside of VFC, Andrew is an avid skier, music buff, and tech enthusiast.

Angela Cooper
Nova Scotia

Angela graduated from Royal Roads University with a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Communications. She is a proud member and descendant of the Poundmaker Cree Nation. Joining the VFC Fellowship has opened doors for her to form lifelong friendships and join networks passionate about creating equitable opportunities in the start-up world. She is an enthusiast of high-level businesses that elevate sustainability science, women, youth, the arts, and diversity of culture; she looks forward to bringing value to her cohort and work placement with passionate ownership!


Aranyah Shanker

Aranyah is a dynamic force at the intersection of tech, innovation, and social good. While pursuing a BSc at Western University, she worked towards bridging the gap between STEM students and entrepreneurial opportunities. Starting her journey as a hackathon organizer at the Women in Technology Society, she now directs the Codecademy Toronto and Women Who Code Toronto networks for enthusiasts of all backgrounds. Aranyah also channels her passion into writing articles on Product Management, building new friendships in innovation competitions, and training for Spartan 2024.

Cam Hennessy

Camron is a dynamic and versatile professional with a keen eye for transforming awkward band-aid solutions into competitive advantages. Over four years, he actively contributed to his local entrepreneurial ecosystem in Barrie, Ontario, dedicating his time to the small business center at his college. His efforts focused on boosting fundraising initiatives to support underrepresented entrepreneurs in today’s market. Cam recently graduated with an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration from Georgian College. He plans to leverage his solid foundation of business acumen to drive his professional growth and make a lasting change within the Canadian entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Colin Ryan

Colin’s currently enrolled in the Masters of Management of Innovation at UofT and is looking forward to continuing his career as an investor/operator in exciting ventures. His passion lies in scaling innovative startups that drive meaningful change. He started his career investing in and partnering with passionate founders at Clearco. Colin believes that innovation is the fuel that ignites change and loves to support and be surrounded by folks who share this same excitement.


Faizan Khan

Faizan graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science; he has recently transitioned into his new role as an Associate System Consultant at AlignHCM. Faizan’s innate ability to create a welcoming environment enables him to foster meaningful connections and empower others to be their authentic selves. His natural leadership qualities and love for taking the initiative drive him to excel in his work, while his dedication to understanding and addressing the needs of others ensures he makes a positive impact in every endeavor. He is a dynamic and empathetic professional who thrives in analytical and interpersonal realms.


Fawziyah Nabeelah

Fawziyah graduated from the University of Toronto with a Life Sciences degree and a background in research. She is a versatile individual with a strong inclination toward biotech, startups, and growth. Fawziyah possesses multitasking abilities and a talent for forging meaningful connections. Eager to engage with like-minded individuals, she actively participates in various communities, including VFC. She aspires to transition into the health tech sector after working in healthcare through the pandemic. Currently, she leverages her expertise in areas such as operations, marketing, and fundraising to support startups. Notably, Fawziyah also serves as the Community Lead at York Angel Investments, where she is striving to enhance the funding experience for both founders and angels.

Joshua Larson
British Columbia

Joshua is an adventurous and daring individual who has fought forest fires as a Wildland Firefighter, built websites as an eCommerce implementation specialist, and is a world traveller who has hiked over 2100km of the Pacific Crest Trail. Joshua plans to combine his passion for sustainability and technology with the network and skills he acquired at the VFC training camp to build the next generation of innovative technologies to address the most wicked problems of our time. Currently, he is looking for startups at the leading edge of VR, AR, XR, and wearable technologies.


Kenneth Nagalingam

Kenneth recently started as a Business Associate at Li-Cycle.  He studied Chemical Engineering at Queen’s University and has previously worked at the federal government and in engineering consulting. Through these experiences, he’s developed an interest in promoting economic and environmental sustainability.


Laughter Afolabi
Nova Scotia

Laughter Afolabi is a new graduate Mechanical Engineer. She is originally from Nigeria and came to Canada 6 years ago. She enjoys identifying societal gaps, so she can develop solutions to address them. She was drawn to entrepreneurship and started her first business in elementary school; selling handmade paper wallets and stationery to her classmates.

The entrepreneurial spirit never left her, as she recently started an Affluence venture. A cloud-based influencer management tool, that aims to help micro-influencers manage, monitor and develop business campaigns and partnerships. In her free time, Laughter loves a good game of badminton and creating travel content on TikTok.

Maria Denk

Maria is trilingual and multi-faceted, with a passion for solving complex problems. After earning her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, she embarked on a career as a researcher in the pharmaceutical industry. In this role, she played a pivotal role in launching drug discovery campaigns for various biotech companies and contributed significantly to internal drug development projects. Driven by a desire to advance human health, she is eager to explore the entrepreneurial aspects of research commercialization. Additionally, she is passionate about promoting scientific literacy and building connections to gain insights from diverse perspectives.


Natasha Bodra

Natasha moved to Canada three years ago and recently graduated with a degree in Marketing Management from Centennial College. She is a dynamic Sales and Marketing novitiate with a genuine passion for the ever-evolving world of technology. With a keen eye for trends and a strategic mindset, she thrives on finding innovative solutions that drive business growth and foster strong client relationships. Her true enthusiasm lies in developing customer-centric solutions that address their pain points.

Nhat Vu

Nhat is a graduate of International Relations from the University of Calgary. Throughout his university journey, he has worked extensively with the non-profit sector in Calgary towards advancing the local tech ecosystem. From there, he found his interest in working in the tech sector as a community and relationship builder. Recently, he joined the Technology Helps team as a Junior Account Manager. It is this unique connection between the private and non-profit sectors that excites Nhat about joining a mission-driven team contributing to social good. Outside of work, Nhat can be found wandering around Calgary looking for hidden gems or trying out a new restaurant. He loves the Rockies and regularly goes on trips to hike or marvel at the scenery.


Nicole Collier
British Columbia

Nicole recently earned her degree in Interdisciplinary Leadership from the University of New Brunswick, where she developed an interest in social entrepreneurship and organizational governance. She has worked in various research and policy roles in arts, food security, and disability justice. Nicole is a Climate Action Fellow at Eviance and volunteers her time as Board Secretary of The Marguerite Centre Society of Nova Scotia.


Riley Millican

Riley is passionate about tackling fascinating challenges, and his expertise lies in successfully unraveling them through his role at City Scouts—an urban adventure summer camp. He thrives on the camp’s immersive outdoor environment, which fosters teamwork and imparts valuable life lessons to children in an enjoyable manner. Now, Riley eagerly anticipates embarking on his next adventure in the realm of high-end lighting sales. Wherever his path leads, he is filled with enthusiasm to forge new connections and build meaningful relationships with diverse individuals!


Sofia Paco

Sofia is a creative and sensitive individual who loves to learn. She has explored different paths in pursuit of finding her strengths and what brings her to life. From studying Biology at University to hiking over half of the Pacific Crest Trail she finds relationships and the connection they provide appear to move the world forward. She hopes to find a position where she can bring people together and support them in pursuing their passions.


Star Lewis

Star is a new graduate with a passion for innovation, strategic thinking, and creating positive change. Star has an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Business Management from the University of Ottawa. As a lifelong learner, she joined VFC to hone her business skills and gain insights into various aspects of entrepreneurship. She aspires to utilize her newfound knowledge to propel her professional development and create a long-term impact.


Stacey Osazuwa

Stacey’s journey into neuroscience and psychology commenced at an early age, driven by her genuine concern for the neurological and mental well-being of children. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science, honing her expertise in the Biological Foundations of Cognition. Complementing her academic achievements, she pursued a double minor in Neuroscience and Mental Health, and Developmental Psychology, gaining an extensive understanding of the complexities surrounding the human mind, cognitive neuroscience, and mental health. As a skilled Conversion Rate Optimization Analyst, Stacey skillfully combines her scientific proficiency with practical business acumen, propelling organizational growth and achieving noteworthy success in her industry.


Zuska Navratil
Quebec, based in Tiohtià:ke

Zuzana Navratil graduated with a BA in Economics and Educational Psychology. She is based in Tiohtià:ke (also known as Montreal).  For Zuzka, Entrepreneurship is a way to curate her own world; an avenue to creatively materialize her definition of freedom. She focuses on learning core skills to become a startup founder — kicking off the run with sales. On the side, she is getting certified in SEO and web design. She aspires to FIRE (be financially independent and retire early) by 35 and focus on creating stunning Japanese/Slovak fusion embroidery. In her spare time, she reads and writes poetry to discover what goes on in her soul.