AIR MILES for Business recognizes Canada's rising entrepreneurs at 2016 Small Business Achievement Awards

Third annual awards ceremony celebrates big achievements by small businesses

TORONTO, Feb. 25, 2016 /CNW/ - To celebrate some of Canada's most accomplished small business owners, the AIR MILES® Reward Program is hosting the third annual Small Business Achievement Awards, presented by Bank of Montreal, on March 7, 2016.

From start-ups to established enterprises, this year's honourees shine a spotlight on Canada's entrepreneurial spirit and outstanding talent across five key categories: Small Business of the Year, Start-Up of the Year, Innovation of the Year, Social Venture, and Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Small businesses represent 99.8 per cent of all companies in Canada and are the economic engines that power Canada's job creation and economic growth1. The AIR MILES Small Business Achievement Awards is proud to recognize small business owners and the significant contributions they continue to make to this country and its economy.

This year's honourees will receive a personalized, one-on-one mentorship session from one of North America's top business leaders, as well as other professional perks, such as a profile in Canadian Business magazine, 10,000 AIR MILES Reward Miles, and a trip to Toronto to attend the winners reception.

"I know first-hand the complex challenges entrepreneurs face when starting their own business and how invaluable a mentor can be," says Sean Wise, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship, Ryerson University. "That is why I am thrilled to be participating in this event and giving back to the small business community. It's wonderful to see companies like AIR MILES creating programs that celebrate Canadian entrepreneurs."

"AIR MILES understands the essential role small business owners play in the Canadian economy and how important it is to recognize their remarkable achievements," says Rachel MacQueen, Vice President, Marketing, AIR MILES Reward Program. "This year's winners are risk takers, innovators, and community builders who truly embody what AIR MILES for Business is all about. We look forward to honouring them and wishing each of them all the best in their future endeavours," adds MacQueen.

The honoured winners of the 2016 AIR MILES Small Business Achievement Awards, and their business mentors, are:

  • Small Business of the Year: Britespan Building Systems Inc. – Lucknow, ON, Ben Hogervorst, President

    Britespan Building Systems Inc. was created by Ben Hogervorst and his wife Jenny the previous owners of Cover-All Building Systems of Ontario for 15 years, a dealership for Cover-All Building Systems Inc., formerly one of the largest makers of steel frame fabric-covered structures in North America. When their distributor, Cover-All went into receivership in March 2010, the Hogervorsts decided to completely redesign the product, pivoting to building steel-framed, fabric-covered buildings as temporary, permanent, and portable solutions for a wide range of applications across a number of industries. They’ve gone onto commercial success across North America with sales topping $14.5 million in 2015. 

    Mentor: Michael E. Bonner, Senior Vice-President, Bank of Montreal
  • Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Basma Hameed, Founder and President, Basma Hameed Clinic. – Toronto, ON,

    Basma Hameed opened the Basma Hameed Clinic in 2014. The 29-year-old founder and President pioneered cutting-edge camouflage treatments for the skin – first for herself, and then for other patients affected by discolouration caused by burns, surgical scars, and other medical marks. To date, her success has been profiled by CNN, The Doctors Show, and Vogue, to name a few.

    Mentor: Sean Wise, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship, Ryerson University
  • Innovation of the Year: Krumpers Solar Blinds – Ottawa, ONDiana Livshits, President

    Krumpers Solar Blinds are designed to enable businesses and homeowners to save on their utility consumption and costs, while reducing their environmental impact. The company's annual sales are now roughly $1-million, with plans to open a new Toronto showroom in the next year.

    Mentor: Amber Mac, President, Konnekt Digital Engagement
  • Social Venture: Mealshare – Calgary, ABJeremy Bryant and Andrew Hall, Co-founders

    Mealshare aims to help restaurants become part of the solution to end global hunger. Participating restaurants donate funds for each menu item they sell that has been assigned the Mealshare logo, which Mealshare then uses to provide one meal to someone in need, either in local communities, or overseas in Mali, Africa.

    Mentor: Bryan Pearson, President & CEO, LoyaltyOne
  • Start-Up of the Year: Boreal Hearing Centre – Thunder Bay, ON, Betty DeKraker, Doctor of Audiology

    Betty DeKraker opened the Boreal Hearing Centre in 2014, which focuses on offering her customers a wide array of the best products and accessories on the market. The clinic achieved exponential growth within its first 18 months, with sales-topping numbers DeKraker hadn't forecasted reaching until year five.

    Mentor: Malcolm Fowler, VP Financial Institutions & Partner Management, Moneris


For more details about the Awards, visit:

AIR MILES for Business is a unique facet of the AIR MILES Reward Program especially for the 800,000+ Collectors who are small business owners, offering exclusive benefits and awards. To learn more about the benefits of AIR MILES® for Business, please visit:

Join the conversation and follow us at @AIRMILESBIZ

About the AIR MILES Reward Program 
Launched in 1992, the AIR MILES Reward Program is one of the best ways to get rewards in Canada.  With more than 10 million active Collector accounts, approximately two-thirds of all Canadian households can turn everyday purchases like gas and groceries into movie tickets, kitchen gadgets, electronics, dream vacations and so much more.  Unlike other frequent shopper programs, Collectors can get Miles from hundreds of leading brand-name Partners, representing thousands of retail and service locations across Canada and leading global brands online. The AIR MILES Reward Program lets Collectors reward themselves their way – they can build their AIR MILES Cash balance to use toward in-store purchases or eVouchers online at participating Reward Partners, build their Dream balance to get vacations, electronics and more, or a combination of both.  Whatever rewards Collectors like most, they can get them quickly and easily with the AIR MILES Reward Program.

1 BDC Small Business Week, Why attend BDC Small Business Week? -  2015,  




Image with caption: "2016 Small Business Achievement Awards winners: Basma Hameed - Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Diana Livshits - Innovation of the Year, Ben Hogervorst - Small Business of the Year, Jeremy Bryant and Andrew Hall - Social Venture (bottom left) and Betty DeKraker - Start-Up of the Year (bottom right) (CNW Group/AIR MILES Reward Program)". Image available at:

For further information: For one-on-one interviews with these dynamic winners or mentors please contact: Brandi Rees, North Strategic, 416-786-4038,


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890