Shaping Tomorrow: Meet Rise Program’s Cohort Two and Their Transformative Ventures

Posted on June 17th, 2024

In the ever-evolving entrepreneurial landscape, the second cohort of the Rise program emerges as a guiding light of innovation, resilience, and transformative ideas. This diverse group of founders, each with their unique ventures, are not just shaping their respective fields but also creating a ripple effect of positive change in their communities.

From challenging oppression through education to promoting environmental sustainability with eco-friendly products to cyber safety and enhancing accessibility in digital spaces, these entrepreneurs are redefining what it means to be a changemaker in today’s world. Let’s delve into their inspiring journeys and the ventures they lead. 

Anti-Oppression Resources| Shannon Giannitsopoulou

Shannon is an equity, diversity, and inclusion and social justice practitioner with direct project management, consultation, and leadership experience. She works in sectors, such as higher education, social services, healthcare, government, federated organization models, nonprofits and charities, sports and recreation, and children and youth programming. Shannon is a Doctor of Education candidate in Social Justice Education at OISE, and holds a master’s degree from the same program. She founded Anti-Oppression Resources, which believes in the power of collective action to challenge oppression and create lasting change. Anti-Oppression Resources offers a range of services that support individuals and organizations in their anti-oppression journeys, tailored to the needs of clients on a variety of topics.

Visit their website

iCleanse Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning | Sherley Josma

Sherley, the co-founder of iCleanse Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning, is dedicated to providing exceptional cleaning services with a focus on environmental sustainability and the well-being of families. With a wealth of industry expertise, Sherley is a passionate entrepreneur committed to introducing innovative, eco-friendly products to her community. iCleanse utilizes an efficient cleaning process that delivers results while prioritizing the reduction of toxicity levels in both residential and commercial spaces. Their safe and eco-friendly products cater to all, promoting a cleaner, more sustainable environment and improved air quality. Driven by a mission to enhance air quality in homes and workplaces, iCleanse strives to creating healthier living and working environments for all.

Visit their website | Visit their Instagram 

Lifesketch Media | Shazia Javed

Shazia Javed the CEO & founder of Lifesketch Media, a film & TV company that empowers creators from equity-seeking communities to express their authentic voices. Lifesketch Media produces impactful, engaging content that resonates with global audiences. Their projects range from documentaries to scripted films and series screened at internationally renowned film festivals and been acquired by Netflix. Her films have been used for impact campaigns by local change makers in the UK, Malaysia, UAE, and Sri Lanka. Funders such as the Canada Media Fund, National Film Board of Canada, various arts councils, and broadcasters including Rogers, CBC, Hollywood Suite and YES TV support her work. Shazia’s latest TV drama, ‘Potluck Ladies’ is streaming on Amazon Prime. 

Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics | LeiLani Kopp

Leilani’s entrepreneurship journey began as a heartfelt passion project in a bedroom, where wigs were styled, and skincare and makeup services were provided for cancer survivors. This endeavour blossomed into a company dedicated to making a meaningful impact on the lives of those affected by illness. Sweet LeiLani Cosmetics stands out in the Clean Beauty category by offering innovative, plant-powered, skincare-infused complexion products. Its formulations are pure, potent, and health-promoting, with dosages supported by scientific research. The company is committed to providing high-quality products that enhance beauty and contribute to overall well-being.

All Things Equitable | Janelle Benjamin

Janelle is a Juris Doctor with almost 20 years of experience in diversity and inclusion, accessibility, and human rights. Her expertise spans leading corporate-wide EDI initiatives, making system-wide improvements to workplace policies and practices, and working with senior leadership to break systemic barriers to inclusion in society so that everyone may participate fully. All Things Equitable, is one of few Canadian consultancies dedicated to addressing workplace inequities across all historically marginalized groups. They create more diverse, inclusive, and safe workplaces, enhancing support for the mental health and wellbeing of all employees.

Beyond The Wisdom Inc. | Muharrem Kaya

Muharrem’s vision is to empower individuals with the skills, confidence, and opportunities to thrive in the ever-evolving IT industry. BTW is a forward-thinking education consultancy wanting to bridge the gap between aspiring IT professionals and the dynamic world of information technology, BTW guides individuals toward meaningful employment within the IT sector. They are committed to fostering a deep understanding of IT fundamentals, advanced technological skills, and industry best practices, through a comprehensive range of courses designed to cater to both beginners and seasoned professionals.

Now Organic Farms | Christopher Frazer

Christopher (Chris) Frazer is the passionate founder of Now Organic Farms, a venture dedicated to environmental and food sustainability. Now Organic Farms supports community gardens and local communities by providing educational tools and resources to access more local organic foods and improve soil quality through composting. Since its launch, Now Organic Farms has diverted over 100,000 pounds of food and organic waste from landfills, transforming it into compost for farmers and gardeners. This initiative has significantly boosted the growth of local organic foods. 

Beautiful By Nature | Faith Jones

Faith is a seasoned hairstylist and makeup artist whose passion lies in empowering individuals to embrace their natural beauty. With extensive firsthand experience, she leads “Beautiful By Nature,” a distinctive beauty salon specializing in organic hair treatments and eco-friendly products, emphasizing sustainability and health without compromising on stunning results. Beautiful By Nature offers personalized consultations and services designed to enhance each client’s inherent beauty. They operate under the belief that true beauty shines brightest when it is nurtured naturally.

Centre for Social Work Education | Janany Jayanthikumar

Janany is the founder of the Centre for Social Work Education. She is an experienced social worker, psychotherapist, and educator in the mental health field. Her areas of expertise include cognitive behavioural therapy, trauma therapy, attachment therapy, simulation-based teaching and research. Janany has committed her career to providing intensive and experiential training to clinicians. The Centre for Social Work Education provides high-quality education and training to therapists and organizations looking to enhance their knowledge, skills, and career goals within the mental health field.

Options Mississauga Print & Office Services | Christine Barlow

Christine leads Options Mississauga Print & Office Services—a charity and social enterprise. Options Mississauga is dedicated to innovative employment training and providing employment opportunities for individuals with developmental disabilities, supporting them in achieving their employment goals. The organization offers training programs in retail, arts, and culinary skills. Additionally, Options Mississauga offers print and office services, and sells artwork created by intellectually disabled artists. 

The Scholarship Whizz | Bolanle Adewusi

Bolanle Solomon-Adewusi is an academic and scholarship coach and the founder of The Scholarship Whizz. Her mission is to make higher education more accessible to students by breaking down financial barriers. Her company focuses on simplifying the scholarship and admission application process by providing personalized scholarship searches and crafting applications through one-on-one coaching and workshops specifically tailored for students.

The Elleiance Network | Erin Sisko

Erin is passionate about supporting other entrepreneurs in achieving their goals. She founded the Elleiance Network, a membership-based business mastermind community for growth-minded women entrepreneurs. Elleiance offers strategy mapping, planning, goal setting, financial review, operations support, execution guidance, and implementation for results. Members are matched with an Executive Business Advisor to ensure that their goals are achieved actively. The Elleiance Network currently has over 100 members.

Visit their website | Visit their Instagram

HELD Agency Inc. | Chris/teen Salik

Chris/teen is a mindfulness facilitator, crisis responder, trainer, and motivational speaker with five years of experience in the Peer Support Space. Chris/teen leads HELD Agency, an Active Listener staffing, training, and consulting agency that boosts the socio-emotional accessibility of public spaces for people living with mental health challenges and/or disabilities. Held Agency provides “Held Spaces” to public events such as conferences, festivals, workshops, and pitches, where attendees can decompress, distract, or de-escalate with the support of a trained Active Listener using a Peer-Based approach.

KnowledgeFlow Cybersafety Foundation | Debra Popa

Debra is passionate about creating a safer and more secure digital world for all Canadians. She co-founded the Knowledge Flow Cyber Safety Foundation, a Canadian nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting online safety and security. The mission of Knowledge Flow is to make Canadians unhackable by providing access to expert cyber safety education and digital media literacy skills. Their initiatives focus on driving awareness, promoting digital literacy, and encouraging responsible online behaviour. 

BLK OWNED | Ashleigh Montague

Ashleigh is the co-founder of BLK OWNED. BLK OWNED is dedicated to advocating, educating, and marketing the success of Southwestern Ontario’s vibrant Black Business community. Ashleigh is committed to making a positive impact in the communities where she lives, works, and learns, with a special focus on empowering youth and adults 39 and under. BLK OWNED through strategic initiatives and programming as well as community engagement, aims to foster growth, visibility, and economic empowerment while reducing systemic barriers experienced by the Black business community.

Aidvisor | Majdi Nawfal

Majdi is an experienced entrepreneur with extensive expertise in web technology and project management. Before founding Aidvisor, he launched Dudi’s Invitation, a successful startup that won first place in the Ideation Lab Competition at ICUBE UTM and the BMO Launch Me competition at Humber College. Aidvisor, his latest venture, specializes in developing customized AI-driven virtual advisors and assistants. These tailored chatbots leverage advanced artificial intelligence to provide startups and organizations with personalized and efficient customer support. As a newcomer to Canada, Majdi is also dedicated to using Aidvisor to help newcomer centers across Canada provide timely and efficient services to their clients in their preferred languages.

TKH Construction Solutions Inc | Kerann Hutchinson

Kerann is the founder of TKH Construction. He is driven by a deep commitment to supporting his community’s housing needs while championing environmental sustainability. Specializing in Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) Foundation Builds and Basement Underpinning, TKH Construction employs modern techniques that prioritize durability and safety in new home construction. Moreover, TKH Construction Solutions offers comprehensive project management services, encompassing planning, execution, procurement, quality management, and risk assessment, ensuring seamless and successful project implementation.


McKie is the founder of of McKie Rich Productions. She began her career working in her family business as a graphic artist, where she discovered her love for photography. this hobby grew into a passion for music and dance, which McKie transformed into the successful media business it is today. McKie Rich Productions is a full-service production house that specializes in innovative photography, videography, graphic design, and training programs. The venture is dedicated to turning unique visions into vivid visuals, guiding projects from pre-production to final delivery with a mission to create timeless content, and provide opportunities to thrive in the creative world.

Rise is a program for social entrepreneurs ready to scale their impact enterprises at an accelerated pace. This project is funded by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). For more information, visit the program page or email us at