Rising Together: Our Biggest Year Yet!

Impact Report, May 2021 - April 2022

A Joint Message from our Chair & CEO

Rise's work is now more important than ever.

Canadians have reported declining mental health in recent years due to the pandemic and a seemingly endless barrage of economic, social, political and environmental pressures.

The good news is, our 2022 fiscal year (FY22) was our biggest yet and we completed the first year of our strategic plan, Rise Above, with great success!

New strategic partnerships and investments in our digital infrastructure and volunteer program helped deepen our impact and diversify and broaden our reach. In FY22 (May 2021 – April 2022), Rise provided small business financing and entrepreneurship training to 765 individuals with mental health and addiction challenges nationwide. That means for every day of the year, we helped empower at least two Canadians to improve their quality of life, build self-confidence and achieve greater social and economic inclusion through entrepreneurship.

On behalf of everyone at Rise, we want to thank the community of donors, partners and volunteers who make our impact possible and congratulate all of the resilient and inspiring entrepreneurs who bring that impact to life in their communities every day.


Lori Spadorcia smiling in front of a yellow background

Lori Spadorcia
Chair, Rise Board of Directors

Lori Smith smiling in front of a concrete background

Lori Smith
CEO, Rise

A woman sitting on her kitchen floor with a laptop

Persevering through the Pandemic

Fewer clients said that COVID-19 had negatively impacted their employment.
(43% in 2021 vs. 52% in 2020)*

A bar graph displaying the comparison of 2020 (52%) to 2021 (43%) stats

More clients reported operating a full-time or part-time business.
(74% in 2021 vs. 68% in 2020)*

A bar graph displaying the comparison of 2020 (68%) to 2021 (74%) stats

Over 50% more clients accessed CERB/CRB to help keep their businesses going.
(86% in 2021 vs. 40% in 2020)*

A bar graph displaying the comparison of 2020 (40%) to 2021 (86%) stats

Our way forward: Impact, Community and Sustainability

We've struck an ambitious course to strengthen Rise programs, enhance our impact and ensure an increasing number of individuals from all backgrounds and regions of Canada can benefit from our entrepreneurship supports. Each decision made, priority pursued, and milestone achieved in FY22 has moved us forward in three strategic directions: impact, community and sustainability.

Baristas in a coffee shop, arms around each other smiling


Empower more Canadians with mental health and addiction challenges as entrepreneurs by delivering effective, responsive, needs-based programs.

A woman with headphones attending a video conference call


Harness the power of our alumni, volunteers and partners to build a united national movement that fosters support and solidarity for Rise clients.

A woman giving a presentation


Lay the groundwork for enduring success by creating sustainable digital infrastructures, harnessing new revenue streams and building a strong brand to boost our overall efficiency, capacity and value.

Read Rise Above

Rise’s support is more than financial; they believe in you as a person … I can attest that Rise helped me level up. They understand how to put the right people in place to give you the best opportunity to be successful.

Meet A Rise Client

Chloë Grande


Chloë Grande | St. Catharines, ON

EnterpRISEing Youth Plus

During the pandemic, Chloë Grande relapsed with her eating disorder. A communications specialist by profession and writer at heart, she began blogging about her experience.

“I wanted to be the voice for 15-year-old me, who didn't have anyone to look up to when diagnosed with an eating disorder,” Chloë says.

The response was overwhelming, and she wondered if she could turn the blog into something more. Then Chloë found EnterpRISEing Youth Plus (EY+)—something she calls, “a game-changer.”

“[EY+ gave] me the confidence and tools to put my business plan into action … I had a chance to meet inspiring mentors and peers who were in a similar situation to myself, getting their businesses off the ground.”

Today, Chloë is a full-time speaker, writer and advocate, who partners with leading mental health organizations like CAMH and has appeared in media including CBC and the Toronto Star.

“I'm so grateful for the EY+ program,” Chloë says. “I've turned my side gig into a dream job that gets me excited to wake up each day.”


Our Impact

At the heart of our mission is an abiding desire to drive positive impact that will continue to grow in depth and breadth. By that measure, FY22 was our biggest year yet! We extended our national reach, engaging our first-ever lending clients in New Brunswick and Newfoundland & Labrador. Demand also increased in Quebec, and we began translating materials to facilitate French programming. We also saw more individuals engage with Rise along our continuum of service, with 22% of FY22 loans disbursed to clients who had previously participated in a Rise training program.

Excitingly, demand for our services was up too. Rise received twice (2x) as many applications to the Small Business Lending Program as in FY21, which tells us we're on the right track and there's plenty more work to do!


We received 2x the applications to our lending program (vs. FY21).


Digital programming enabled us to reach entrepreneurs in nine provinces.

22% of loans were disbursed to previous Rise training program participants.
A smiling young employee with a tablet, in a soap store

Who Are Rise Clients?

Age of Clients

An infographic of the typical ages of clients in Rise programsImage

Rise clients are diverse in age: 19% are aged 16 to 25; 39% are aged 26 to 35; 26% are aged 36 to 45; 11% are aged 46 to 55; and 5% of our clients are aged 56 years and older.

Client Gender

An infographic of the range of genders among clients in Rise programsImage

The majority of Rise clients – 62% – identify as female; 25% identify as male; 8% identify as non-binary, and 5% prefer not to disclose their gender identity.

Client Diversity

An infographic about the diversity among clients in Rise programsImage

Rise is dedicated to inclusive programs that serve a diverse client base. Thirty-nine percent of our clients identify as people of colour. Seventeen percent identify as LGBTQ2S+.

What We Do

Small Business Lending Program

The Small Business Lending Program provides entrepreneurs unable to secure traditional financing with an opportunity to access low-interest loans, mentorship and other supports to help them build a small business. From the start, applicants are connected with a Rise Business Advisor to help complete their loan application. If approved, they're matched with a mentor for a year of one-on-one guidance and support.


Loans disbursed in FY22


Total value of FY22 loans


Small Business Lending Program clients reported business growth in 2021.*


Rise clients reported requiring less provincial income support in 2021 (vs. 2020).*

Entrepreneurship Training Programs

A record number of people applied to Rise Entrepreneurship Training Programs in FY22, and we delivered more cohorts than ever before—all free of charge to participants. We also made some significant changes to our self-directed online program, EnterpRISEing You (formerly EnterpRISEing Youth), removing the 16-29 age restriction so it can be accessed by anyone interested in entrepreneurship.


Training program participants in FY22

EnterpRISEing You

EnterpRISEing You is a go-at-your-own-pace online program for aspiring entrepreneurs of all ages. Participants complete 15 virtual modules to learn essential business skills, build confidence and begin developing a business plan. Once complete, they're connected with a Rise Business Advisor for a personal consultation and support with the next steps.

Peer Supported Startup Program

The Peer Supported Startup Program (PSSP) provides entrepreneurs aged 30+ with access to skills training, business guidance and peer network support. In addition to virtual classroom sessions, participants work in small groups with a volunteer mentor to develop their business plans. Graduates of this eight-week program receive a $300 start-up grant.

Youth Small Business Program

The Youth Small Business Program (YSBP) offers 20 virtual in-class and group mentoring sessions to young entrepreneurs who thrive in guided teaching environments, helping them build confidence and develop business plans while exploring business fundamentals and wellness topics like mindfulness. Graduates of this 10-week program receive a $500 start-up grant.

EnterpRISEing Youth Plus

EnterpRISEing Youth Plus (EY+) combines the flexibility of our EnterpRISEing You online program with the added value of eight weekly virtual in-classroom workshops and peer support discussion groups. Tailored for young entrepreneurs who are comfortable with self-directed learning, EY+ graduates receive a $300 start-up grant.


Rise clients say they've gained professional skills in areas such as: general business, financial management and critical thinking.*


Rise clients say they feel more confident making business decisions.*

Meet A Rise Client

Van Joseph de Ramos


Prohustlin' | Cote Saint-Luc, QC

Small Business Lending Program

“I want to prove that even if you are broke, living with a disability, or both, nothing is impossible as long as you believe in yourself,” Van Joseph de Ramos says when asked about the inspiration behind his business, Prohustlin'.

Founder of the Cote Saint-Luc, QC, print house, Van Joseph says after a long search for funding that saw him refused by every bank and traditional lender he could find, he discovered Rise and applied to the Small Business Lending Program. A Rise Business Advisor helped him get prepared for his loan, making sure he had a solid plan in place to maximize the funds.

“Creating a business plan and sales forecast helped me see the bigger picture,” he says.

Today, Van Joseph says his products are evolving and he now supports other businesses by sharing what he’s learned. And Rise continues to help him chart a course forward.

Rise is the hope that lights my journey.”

Our Reach

Rise officially has nine program locations across five provinces, but digital programming means we can engage with clients anywhere in Canada. It has enabled us to extend our influence from coast to coast and reach more entrepreneurs in more diverse communities than ever before.

A map of Canada with various pins indicating where the Rise Head Office is, Program Locations and Client Reach. Clients described below.
Headshot of David Grainger

1. David Grainger Small Business Lending Program

Headshot of Karima Leslie

2. Karima Leslie EnterpRISEing Youth Plus

Mental Wellbeing & Business Coach
Arise and Thrive Co. Link Opens in New Window

Edmonton, AB

Headshot of Sasha Golding

3. Sasha Golding Peer Supported Startup Program

Headshot of Adeola Sogbein

4. Adeola Sogbein Small Business Lending Program

Headshot of Warda Youssouf

5. Warda Youssouf EnterpRISEing Youth Plus

Aspiring entrepreneur
Toronto, ON
Headshot of Joanne Stirling

6. Joanne Stirling Small Business Lending Program

A Greener House
Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, NL


Our Community

It's imperative that the Rise community is inclusive and accessible to anyone in Canada who shares our mission and/or can benefit from our services. That's why we're focused on cultivating our networks with intention, engaging like-minded strategic partners, and harnessing the power of our volunteers to ensure we're reaching the individuals who need us most with dynamic, personalized support.


Rise clients say they feel their work is valued by others.*


Rise clients express greater self-confidence.*

A collage with three pictures. One with two women looking at you laptop. A second larger image of an elder woman thinking. A third image of a diverse group of professionals smiling into the camera.

Who are Rise Partners?

The Power Of Partnership

We collaborate with local and national partners to help us reach new audiences and strengthen our program delivery. Here are a couple of the impactful partnerships we forged in FY22:

Generation Chosen

Collaborating with Generation Chosen has enabled Rise to reach underserved youth in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood. With a shared commitment to supporting mental health and creating opportunities for young people, we provide Generation Chosen participants with access to EnterpRISEing Youth Plus to help them build the skills and confidence to develop a business plan, network and learn from experienced mentors.


We’re delighted to have embarked on a new partnership with Scotiabank as a part of their ScotiaRISE community investment initiative. Their three-year, $500,000 commitment to Rise will support our Strengthening Client Success program aimed at enhancing client experience.

Our Volunteers

Building Our Volunteer Program

Rise provides entrepreneurs across Canada with access to one-on-one and group mentorship opportunities thanks to the dedicated, compassionate and experienced professionals who volunteer with us. In FY22, we focused on creating new resources to bolster our volunteers' experience and empower them in their roles.

Understanding Mental Health to Support You and Others: Rise Volunteer Online Training
Developed in response to an expressed desire from our volunteers for more educational opportunities, this exclusive online course covers a range of mental health and wellness topics to help Rise volunteers build positive, practical skills to support themselves and their mentoring work with Rise clients.
Rise Volunteer Live: Peer Sessions

To complement our new training resources, we facilitated live virtual sessions where Rise volunteers could ask questions, engage in discussions and, importantly, connect with their peers.

Protecting & Promoting Mental Health: A Toolkit for Mentors & Mentees in Entrepreneurship, presented by Canada Life

This two-part toolkit applies a mental health lens to mentoring relationships amongst entrepreneurs. Available online, it provides critical advice, worksheets and exercises to help mentors and mentees foster stronger, more empathetic and productive partnerships considerate of both parties' mental wellness.

Explore the Toolkit


Volunteers active in FY22

Become a Volunteer

Meet A Rise Client

Heidi Nagtegaal

Tarot Times With Heidi & By Tooth And Claw Clothing | Vancouver, BC

Small Business Lending Program

Heidi Nagtegaal was already an entrepreneur when they joined the Small Business Lending Program. Their first business is card-reading at Tarot Times with Heidi. Then they launched a vintage, tarot-inspired clothing line, By Tooth and Claw Clothing.

After securing a Rise loan to buy merchandise, Heidi was set-up with volunteer mentor, Glorie Averbach.

Heidi, who describes themselves as “extremely neurodiverse,” says they run their business like an art project—which has its advantages. “But pair that with my mental health and the fact that I didn't really have any business experience before this, and I’m a mess when it comes to time management and knowing how to grow. Glorie helps me prioritize things so I don't waste my time and helps me understand how business works, so I can maximize impact.”

Today, By Tooth and Claw Clothing sells online, consigns in 11 shops across Canada, and wheels are in motion to scale both businesses.

Heidi says without Glorie they probably would have stayed in business, “but I don’t think I would have been as successful, confident, or fulfilled.

“I have Glorie's voice in my mind assisting me … I feel like I have support to do my best and to shine.”

Meet A Rise Mentor

Glorie Averbach


Tech Entrepreneur & Business Coach | Vancouver, BC

Rise Volunteer Mentor

Glorie Averbach is no stranger to paying it forward through mentorship. In 2021, when Rise asked her to mentor lending client Heidi Nagtegaal, it was in part because the two had worked together before.

“[Heidi and I] know each other well, so 'authentic' conversation is easy,” Glorie says. “One of the most important pieces for both of us is creating a safe, non-judgmental space to grow, learn and share.”

As a career entrepreneur, she helps Heidi navigate the demands of business ownership.

“I'm very attuned to burnout and the toll 'business building' can take on one's mental health,” Glorie says. “I've had my own struggles [and] I've always been open and willing to share those stories.”

For Glorie, sharing her knowledge and experience is what gives them value. “To me, giving my time as a mentor is doing just that,” she says.

“Today, Heidi fully believes in themselves as a business owner. It's awesome. They know what it takes to grow, and they know how to balance so they take care of themselves at the same time.”

Thank you to the Board for another wonderful year of dedicated leadership

Our Board of Directors played a critical role in developing our Strategic Plan, and it continued to provide steadfast leadership in our first year of implementation. In the spirit of our goals for diversity and growth, we were very proud to welcome Lori Spadorcia as our new Chair in Sept. 2021— the first woman to hold the seat at Rise. We also welcomed our first director based outside of Ontario, Tassan Sung. And with the board's enthusiasm and support, we introduced Rise Launch—a new fundraising program co-chaired by Andrew Macdonald and Philippe Savoy.

Thank you to all of our members for their unwavering dedication!

Lori Spadorcia, Chair Senior Vice President, Public Affairs, Partnerships, and Chief Strategy Officer, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Andrew Macdonald, Director Senior Vice President, Mobility & Business Operations, Uber

Boafoa Kwamena, Director Director, Child Care Quality Assurance and Licensing Branch, Ministry of Education

David R. Smith, Former Chair Founder and Senior Advisor, Smith Advisory Services Inc.

Nikki Moffat, Treasurer, Chair, Finance, Audit & Risk Committee CHRO & EVP Corporate Services, BCE and Bell

Philippe Savoy, Director VP Corporate Sales Canada, Corpay

Raksha Manaktala Bhayana, Chair, Governance & Nominating Committee CEO, Bhayana Family Foundation

Tom Little, Director President, Bell Business Markets, Bell Canada

Tassan Sung, Director Chair, Nicola Wealth Women's LEAD &Community Engagement and Donor Relations Specialist


Our Commitment to Sustainability

Our ambitions to grow the breadth and depth of our programs are only meaningful if we also ensure we have the capacity to sustain them. In FY22, we focused on diversifying our revenue streams to support our operational sustainability and we reaffirmed our commitment to raising clients' voices so they may have a lasting impact in the Rise community and beyond.


Rise clients say they take steps to learn from every experience, regardless of success or failure.*


Rise clients say they now pay closer attention to their need for work-life balance.*

A picture of a mna standing in front of a whiteboard.

Rise Launch


Launch Investors


Committed by Launch Investors in FY22

Rise Launch is our new fundraising program to help business and philanthropic leaders across Canada invest directly in the entrepreneurial potential of individuals with mental health and addiction challenges. We hosted two virtual events in FY22 to introduce prospective donors to the impact of our work and invited them to join our mission as Launch Investors to help ensure Rise can reliably support our growing client base for years to come.

Learn More About Rise Launch

Client Recognition

Raising Client Voices & Celebrating Success

Every year, we host the Rotman Family Entrepreneurship Awards to celebrate the outstanding achievements of Rise clients and volunteers, and to share the impact of our work with the Rise community. In 2021, we honoured four remarkable award recipients whose stories left us all inspired.

Headshot of Exmiranda


2021 Rotman Family Entrepreneur of the Year

Rise helped me understand there's always opportunities to succeed, but sometimes you have to create them for yourself; you can't wait for others to do it for you. You have to develop the business side of things and have a plan to ensure your success.”

Read Exmiranda's story
Headshot of Rebekah Thibeault

Rebekah Thibeault

2021 Dr. Paul Garfinkel Resilience Award

“I think the people at Rise were the first to actually believe in me. They broke down so many business things that I didn't think I could ever understand, and I got to join a community of people just like me, experiencing the same troubles.”

Read Rebekah's story
Headshot of Karen Clarke

Karen Clarke

2021 Bell Let's Talk Start-up Award

“I didn't want to talk about my mental health before because of the stigma. I think working with Rise has taken away that fear. I feel like I've found a place where I'm respected and appreciated and seen as a whole, not just a diagnosis.”

Read Karen's story
Headshot of Meryl Cook

Meryl Cook

2021 Scotiabank Volunteer of the Year Award

“I have had so many mentors who have helped me, and it's a great way to give back. I am especially interested in Rise because … it's making a really decent attempt at breaking the cycle for people living in marginalized communities or in poverty.”

Read Meryl's story

To Our Donors, Thank You!

Our work is made possible thanks to the generous support of a community of like-minded funders, partners and donors. Every dollar you give has a meaningful impact in clients' lives.

See Our Donor List

Rise By The Numbers

As demand for our programs grows, Rise continues to explore new partnerships and strategies that can enable us to effectively reach and empower more entrepreneurs across Canada.

See Our FY22 Financials
*Based on results of the 2021 Rise Social Inclusion Survey.

Impact Report,
May 2021 - April 2022


Impact Report,
May 2021 - April 2022