Media Releases

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

January 12, 2016

Toron­to, ON – 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

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

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 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.


For more infor­ma­tion:

Ken McGuf­fin
Man­ag­er, Media Rela­tions
Rot­man School of Man­age­ment
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Voice: 416.946.3818