Boréalis puts corporate social responsibility on the world map

    
        Patrick Grégoire wins BDC Young Entrepreneur Award for Québec
    

MAGOG, QC, Oct. 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Patrick Grégoire's world stretches far beyond Magog, where his business is headquartered. The co-founder and vice-president of Boréal - Informations Stratégiques (Boréalis) has made a name for his company by helping multinational corporations ensure the sustainability of their international development projects in Africa and South America. In recognition of his success, Patrick, 35, has won BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for Quebec and will be honoured tonight at a ceremony in Ottawa.

A geography graduate with expertise in geographical information systems, Patrick started his career managing information for ExxonMobil on development projects in Chad and Cameroon. While in Africa, he crossed paths with fellow graduate Jules Paquette, then an information technology director at Bombardier, and the two saw an opportunity to start a business. "It was the beginning of the first corporate social responsibility standards for development projects," explains Patrick, referring to the Equator principles set by the World Bank as benchmarks for managing the environmental and social issues related to projects in the developing world.

Developing a niche

Boréalis was created to provide data and consulting services that help mining and petroleum companies evaluate risks and make strategic decisions that minimize negative impacts on communities and the environment, and adhere to the Equator principles. "The timing was very good," says Patrick. "Nobody else was doing this five years ago. We created a niche for ourselves, building on our experience, contacts and technological expertise." Today, Boréalis employs 37 people and has revenues in the millions. Its niche has expanded to include environmental footprint management, a service it is bringing to the North American market, particularly in the wind turbine energy sector.

In the first years of their business, the two partners each spent more than half the year away from home, training and overseeing Boréalis personnel working on development projects on site. "It was an investment; we had to lead by example," says Patrick. Their hands-on involvement helped to build credibility for Boréalis and to develop a sterling reputation for their work. "Today, we still travel about three months of the year, but now most of that is to develop new business."

Boréalis's involvement with local educational institutions is helping to introduce its field of expertise to young people. "We participate in research chairs and research groups at the Université de Sherbrooke and Université Laval," points out Patrick, "and we are often invited to talk to students about our career path. We want to open their eyes to new horizons." For Boréalis, community involvement is global, encompassing providing financial aid to college and university groups involved in international aid trips, offering apprenticeships to foreign students, and giving back to the countries in which they work.

"Patrick has seized an opportunity to build a business in a completely new domain. He has used his skills and experience to create a solid enterprise that is making a difference here and in developing countries," says BDC President and CEO Jean-René Halde.

"The impact of our services and systems has been major, and it is only just beginning," says Patrick. "We see lots more potential to improve living conditions and relationships between corporations and communities."

Recognition for young leaders

A major feature of Small Business Week, BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards recognize the entrepreneurial spirit and the business and leadership accomplishments of Canadians between the ages of 19 and 35. Winners are selected by panels of business people from across the country who consider the originality of the business concept, success, growth potential and social involvement. They also take into account the entrepreneur's age when the business was started and any special challenges that were overcome.

2009 YEA and Small Business Week partners

Platinum partners of the 2009 Young Entrepreneur Awards and Small Business Week are Deloitte and Export Development Canada. Gold partners are Borden Ladner Gervais, and Maclean's.

About BDC

BDC is Canada's business development bank. From more than 100 offices across the country, BDC promotes entrepreneurship by providing highly tailored financing, venture capital and consulting services to entrepreneurs. Visit www.bdc.ca for more information.

Small Business Week is a registered trademark of BDC.

SOURCE Business Development Bank of Canada

For further information: For further information: or to arrange for an interview on October 20: BDC Media Room: 1-866-962-4554, (613) 562-3443; After October 20: Johanne Bissonnette, Media Relations Manager, (514) 283-7929, johanne.bissonnette@bdc.ca


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