Every once in a while, something extraordinary happens. Where magic flashes in the unseen, connections are timed, stars are aligned, opportunities are crystallized and serendipities create possibilities for new realities. That happened this week for Sabrina when she was invited to compete for ELLE Canada’s Award for Female Entrepreneurship.
I watched her practice, her face pensive as she decided which parts of the Kidogo story to tell in her 5-minutes in front of the jury. I watched her pull together an outfit, combining bits and pieces from my closet and her suitcase. As she straightened her hair, I could see her visualizing her pitch. She slapped on her tallest heels – she’s convinced the size of her heel is correlated to her confidence level – and headed off to ELLE’s offices. When did my Sabrina grow up!
Over the past 2 years, Sabrina and Afzal have dedicated their lives to giving children living in poverty the best start to life. Their social enterprise, Kidogo Early Years, has peaked the interest of many organizations – ELLE Foundation, the latest on the growing list.
ELLE has partnered with Le Comptoir de l’innovation (CDI), a leading global social investment firm, to launch an award recognizing female social entrepreneurship: Impact² Pour Elle(s). The competition, now in its second year, is being run for the first time in 9 countries around the world: Belgium, Canada, France, India, Italy, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom and the United States of America. The winners from each of these countries will be flown to Paris in April on an all-expenses paid trip to compete for the grand prize in front of an international forum of business leaders, policy makers, and financial institutions promoting female entrepreneurship.
At Canada’s finals this week, Sabrina competed against extraordinary women: Kim Smiley, a designer who is the creative force behind Sappho by Kim, Leonie Tchatat who spearheaded the design of Competences Culturelles, Ontario Business Platform and Francophone Workforce Development and Melissa Sariffodeen founder of Ladies Learning Code. Each of the finalists pitched their entrepreneurial ventures to a seasoned group of judges that included Noreen Flanagan, Editor-In-Chief of ELLE and representatives from RBC Capital Markets, EY and MaRS, among others. After the pitch, the judges asked the candidates a succession of rapid fire questions and then chose the winner.
Sabrina returned home later that afternoon and snuck into my bed – my new home since completing my first chemo last week. She whispered in my ear, “Mommy, I won!”
As ELLE Canada’s Female Entrepreneur of the Year, Sabrina will be featured in ELLE magazine and is off to Paris in a few weeks – oh mon Dieu! And nobody is more surprised about this award than Sabrina herself. Her humility, her complete lack of ego is so beautiful. She has no concept of how incredible she is. Sabrina was always a little bit of a late bloomer and her teenage years saw her wearing her brother’s oversized sports jerseys, shorts that came to her knees and sports socks. She was a tomboy for most of her life and was happiest when she was playing baseball, basketball and ice hockey. And when she wasn’t playing sports, she was studying. Dolls, clothes, makeup, fashion – none of this interested her. She didn’t even have her first kiss until she was 21 – and then we celebrated this momentous occasion for a week! At age 21, my late blooming Sabrina declared she wanted a Princess Party. And now, my gorgeous, caring, compassionate, loving and talented daughter will be in ELLE magazine!