WINNERS 2016

Nikki CLARKE
Owner of Coffee and Cheesecake - Business Class Women's Directory Social Worker


Who is Ms Coffee and Cheesecake? Coffee and Cheesecake is Paula Paterson, who was born in London England and raised in Scarborough Ontario. With over twenty years of extensive Social Work experience, Paula has worked closely with the homeless population, youth and abused women. Although Paula's main focus is her family she has devoted much of her time to Empower Women throughout the GTA/Canada and someday internationally. Paula is passionate about encouraging women to be the best that they can be and believes that the beginning to a woman's success is self-confidence and self love leading to healthy relationships with other women. Paula has had her share of trials and tribulations with female relationships, from lack of trust to competitive behaviours and would like to do her part in removing these negative attitudes women demonstrate towards each other. Paula is working on the development of a female community of career minded women who are seeking the same beliefs. As a entrepreneur herself, Paula has learned that networking plays a key component in achieving unity between women who are ambitious and demonstrate the drive and determination to succeed. Paula has built and continues to develop a team of women full of aspirations and dreams and wants to make a positive difference. Paula is making connections with local charities and strives to be an influential role model.

Coffee and Cheesecake has officially launched its all female Business Directory. Included in this Directory are businesses that have been carefully analyzed and picked, these women are self made bosses who have an immense amount of professionalism, drive, motivation and dedication that are rapidly bringing their business to the top. Included in the Directory are women of all different fields — from fashion, to beauty, home decoration, catering services, photographers, travel, finances and so much more. As the Directory has quality, having your female entrepreneurs promote on the Directory is an unique and fantastic way to get their name out there, receive and give support to other fellow female entrepreneurs and discover new businesses. Coffee and Cheesecake plans to expand its Directory worldwide and goal to get over 1000 members.


“If a woman is sufficiently ambitious, determined and gifted there is practically nothing she can't do.”
Odette DOUMBE
Social entrepreneur, speaker, mentor,
workshop facilitator and a philanthropist
Co-founder of Saba Africa Ltd


In 2011, she co-founded Hands of a Hero Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports less fortunate children in Ghana and Canada by empowering, mentoring, educating and providing resources to improving their standard living conditions. As the President of Hands of a Hero Foundation, her strong passion to make a difference in the lives of children and youth has lead the organization to great success for the past 5 years.

Since 2013, Yaa-Priscilla has also been serving as the President of Fashion Against Poverty, an organization that creates platforms to give exposure to emerging fashion designers, artists and entrepreneurs in Canada, while simultaneously raising funds to help empower youth in Canada and supporting disadvantaged children in Ghana.

In April 2016, Yaa-Priscilla was chosen as a speaker for Ted Talk conference (TEDxAccra) held in Accra, Ghana. She has appeared on Jefferson Reports (Joy TV & Afroglobal TV), ETV, TV AFRICA, Roger TV and many more.


“You are the pilot and owner of your aircraft. To keep soaring above all odds,
you must keep fear from hijacking your aircraft.”- Yaa- Priscilla Birago
Ophylia ALLEYNE
Partner, Lawyer - Legal Services


When I started my university applications, I had first planned to become a dentist, but then decided I wanted to help people in need by completing a Psychology Degree, and a Social Work Degree. After working as a Social Worker for many years in women’s shelters, schools, group homes, and detention centers, I decided I wanted to help people on a higher level. So, I started canvassing the idea of Law to my friends and family.

They said I would never be able to finish law school.

Now I have been able to open my own practice and run a successful Law Firm with two other partners, remain actively involved in politics, support my community by taking several executive board positions, actively give back to my church, teach law at a post secondary level, and coach and mentor many law students along the way.


“When people are not involved in a process, they resist it or distance themselves from it” -- Cardinal Turkson.
Patricia BEBIA
Branch Manager, BMO Financial Group


Rachel Nyaamine is Branch Manager for BMO Financial Group. She is accountable for sales leadership, operational oversight and people leadership within the retail banking environment.

Within this role, Rachel oversees a team of Financial Service Managers, Customer Service Representatives and closely works with various partners such as Financial Planners, Investment Advisors and Mortgage Specialists. Within the complex environment of this customer-facing financial role, Rachel focuses on the financial education of her team to ensure they are able to effectively manage customer expectations surrounding Lending, Investments and Everyday Banking transactions.

Rachel joined BMO Financial Group in August 2007 as an associate in the Credit Card line of business and has progressed through various leadership roles in Personal Banking, Credit Cards and Specialized Sales. In May 2015, Rachel was promoted to her current role as a Branch Manager for the Bayview/Eglinton branch. She is a proven sales leader with a passion for driving results through discretionary performance. As a leader, she continues to gain personal fulfillment in continous learning as well as skills gained while progessing through various roles within BMO Financial Group.

She holds a Bachelor in Sociology from York University. Rachel is actively engaged in charities with a primary focus on women & children as well as being a member of BMO’s GenNext Committee which focuses on heightening awareness for young adults on the necessity of giving back.


"Followers who tell the truth, and leaders who listen to it, are an unbeatable combination" (Warren Bennis)
Pauleanna REID
Evangelist


Rachel Shako is originally from Democratic Republic of Congo. She is an Evangelist, Christian counselor and Founder of Claiming Life ministries. Through her evangelic ministry and spiritual counseling, she helped many people in African, Europe, USA and Canada rediscover their true identity as Christian and as a woman in the society.

Rachel always enjoyed helping women and families to discover their true identity. In fact, by the time she was 25 years old, she helped many broken families to come back together, many depressed and low self-esteem girls to regain their confidence and continue to follow their dreams. She also reached many street girls and motivated them to go back to school.

In 2003, after spending some years in Canada, she decided to go to Canada Christian College to pursue her studies in counseling and social w, and in 2008 she was graduated with a bachelor degree in counseling and in the same year she was ordained Evangelist. She has founded The Claiming Life Ministries with the goal to reach out the world with the gospel. She has been a speaker to many conferences around the world speaking to women, youth and families. She has been a mentor to many young women in Canada.

Today, Rachel encourages young people, especially women and girls to follow their dreams no matter the challenges they may face in life. She is also writing a book which will be entitle “women, maximize your potential”


“A woman who knows her identity, knows her value”
Princess BOUCHER
Manager (B2B) Telecommunication


When I started my journey, I was a single mother working eighty hour weeks at multiple jobs. There were times it seemed like there was no light at the end of the tunnel but through determination and faith, we persevered. Now I am in a leadership position at Rogers, and my children are my greatest achievement. They are tri-lingual, community-focused, highly intelligent and compassionate. It wasn’t easy raising them on my own, but they mean the world to me and I couldn’t be prouder of their accomplishments.

I thrive on challenges and am driven by success in my career and outside of it. I have volunteered with several different organizations over the last few years: Million Dollar Smiles, Habitat for Humanity, Manyatta Network, the Cry for the Children Foundation, and others. My goal is to inspire and I hope to have a positive impact on the lives of those whom I encounter.

"Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful" Joshua J. Marines
Rose-marie MERCURY
Owner and Executive Chef at Rosaly's
Food Services - Catering and
food production company


When I started my company it was base in making food for friends and families in Toronto Ontario .We have been able to grow by participating in different outdoor events and festivals.

We have moved to Saskatoon to pursue a career in law enforcement for my husband, and we have started over the company but this time with our minds set on our biggest dream.

They say it was not possible for me to excel into the production industries without any big capital in our hands but now our products (African dry mix) are located in 5 stores in Saskatoon, 1 in Calgary,Alberta and one in South Dakota (USA). One of our biggest orders come from Andrey's Independent Store in Saskatoon, SK . We are definitely aiming for Ontario next.

My inspiration is all the people around the world, the suffering, the poverty, the human trafficking and child prostitution special in my own country Republic democratic of Congo. We would like to be part the ARK (One Act of Random Kindness) one person at a time.



"You can be anything you want to be in life, just BELIEVE."
Rosita HALL
Communications Advisor for the Attorney General/ Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs


When I moved to Canada, 6 years ago, I never thought I will be where I am today. I was freshly graduated from a business school in France when the idea of leaving my family, my friends and my country came to mind. My parents tried to convince me to stay in France in order to find a job, but I didn't listen to them and I decided to challenge myself living abroad.

Here I am, 5 years as a Communications and Community Relations manager for Centre francophone, a nonprofit organization for francophone and since recently I am a communications advisor for the Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs and the Attorney general. I was lucky to meet the right people across my path, and never giving up on my hope, my dream and my goal. As a black woman, I am deeply proud to be able to enjoy my job. I have always said to myself that everything is possible and indeed it’s possible, even though it’s not easy everyday but, it is worth it to work hard and believe in you.


“He who says he can and he who says he can't are both usually right.” - Confucious
Shelley JARRETT
Wedding & Event Planner - Event Industry


I started event planning little over 12.5 years ago. The background for fashion & arts started it all. Attending the London college of Fashion in UK was a dream come true for many, that included me. The future was looking bright. Back then fashion industry was rapidly growing & being in Europe you had the best of both worlds, New York, London & Paris all rolled into one. As much I loved my hometown of London, it soon became clear that other plans were in the making for me to move to another & make a brand new life for myself. Visiting Canada reminded me of home, so I done just that. I then sought out the opportunity to run & own my business, but was given the opportunity to own a franchise, which then in turn became my own. The Name Your Main Event means what it says & I wanted to make that personal to my prospects. They say I will never be able to run my own business because the competition was to much & small businesses don’t really go anywhere, but I proved them wrong in 2014 when I done over 32 events & broke even. This was a great accomplishment & I’ve continued to sustain it 3 years in a row. Now I’ve been able to achieve many other things within the industry by create my own distinctive style & brand -- making me stand out against many event planners. I’ve created a platform that enables my company to give customers so much choice with the products we have to offer.


“Lions never lose sleep over the opinions of sheep.”
Solange BELLUZ
Client Service Worker – City of Toronto Shelter Services & Housing Administration


When I started my pursuit to become a social worker, I lacked the confidence to believe I would be accepted into Higher education, never mind York University and the University of Toronto. As a stutterer, I was self conscious of how I might present to others as a professional! I had a narrow mindset that told me others are better, prettier and more intelligent than I!! As a British immigrant, I leapt over many racial, social and political barriers both to pursue stability in Canada and in higher education.

They say I will never amount to much; I would just be a housewife!!

Now I have been able to achieve an undergraduate and a graduate degree in Social work from reputable, prestigious universities, I am now positioned to unwrap individuals trapped in the social constructs and prisons of their minds; through the vehicle of my work as a Social Worker.


“I believe God…”
stacy BUCHANAN
Co-founder, Black Lives Matter – Toronto


Sandy Hudson is a community organizer who has spearheaded anti-racism and anti-violence initiatives and is the founder of Black Lives Matter-Toronto. She is also a graduate student at the University of Toronto studying Social Justice Education, where her research focuses on how post-secondary education policy leaves Black students behind. This year, Sandy also co-founded the campus-based Black Liberation Collective-Canada, an organization that began with the anti-Black racism resistance movement at the University of Missouri. With chapters on campuses from the University of British Columbia to Carleton University, the organization has already scuredn significant victories from the University of Toronto. An anti-racist, feminist, education activist, Sandy was also the first Black woman to serve as Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario and President of the University of Toronto Students' Union. Sandy strongly believes in free education and as an education activist, she has organized two province-wide demonstrations against fees education and a province-wide Task Force on Campus Racism.


"Ain't I a woman?" - Sojourner Truth
Tamar HUGGINS
Superior Business Services, Entrepreneur
Coordinator Vaccine Preventable Disease
(Region of Peel)


When I started in my career in the health care profession, I started out by volunteering because I needed work experience. I started out as a Chiropractor's Assistant and learned as much as I could. I moved onto a phlebotomist, ECG technician, Medical Language Specialist and eventually onto my own business. I saw a need in the community where education of how to do business was very much needed. The community from which I reside was doing business transactions, but losing money because of lack of knowledge of how to do the business they were pursing, for example having a business with no business registration. Simple things such as email money transfer were not being used because lack of knowledge of the availability. Superior Business Records consists of various business services: Medical Language specialist, Immigration referral services, entertainment or just anything business. They say I will never. Never had anyone saying you can't. Now I have been able to own my business, educate and share knowledge with others.


From a Jamaican Grammy award winning reggae artist “You can get it if you really want it” and “Try and Try, you succeed at last.”
Tamara GORDON
Social Service Worker, Motivational Speaker, Podcast Host of Women Unchained Radio, Rogers TV Talk Show Host of "Women on the Rise" in Durham Region. Author of "A Woman Unchained, Breaking the silence of childhood sexual abuse


When I started my talk show "Women on the rise" I would have never thought I would be on TV hosting a show. Little did I know that God had different plans for me to be the host instead and interview women from all walks of life. Not only do I feel blessed to work in media but I will also be an author TBR in August 2016. It has been quite a journey 4 years in the making, to share my story of being a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Now I have been able to learn to live bold! I know now in order to see growth, change and movement in our lives we must take bold steps, activate our faith and say "Fear take a back seat, I'm going to feel the fear and do it anyway". They said I would never be where I am today, If I listened to all the nay sayers saying, I couldn't do it, or I am not good enough I would not be on this journey I am today my purpose driven journey!


“It Always Seems Impossible Until Its Done" Nelson Mandela
“She believed She Could So She did" Author Unknown
Tanya Crystal WALKER
Vice-President, Resident and Community Services Toronto Community Housing - Social Housing


When I started my career I worked as a volunteer. I capitalized on the opportunity to become familiar with the community, non-profit sector while developing my professional and interpersonal skills. After demonstrating my commitment, dedication and perseverance, I was hired into a permanent, full-time role; and advanced to several different front-line and mid-level management roles at a variety of organizations.

They say I will never advance to the highest level of senior management in the sector. The barriers I face as a black woman, dealing with every day racism and sexism would be a limitation to my ultimate success.

However, now I have been able to succeed and breakdown the barriers that were once obstacles. I am a consummate professional, whose career and life combine theory, practice, experience and specialized training. My work spans almost three decades, with the last 20 years working at senior management levels within several organizations.


“It always seems impossible until it is done.” - Nelson Mandela
Tatiana KING
Publisher and freelance writer - Publishing & Media




When I started my writing journey they said I will never make it in the writing business, let alone publish any books. Now, I am a published author of 7 books and counting and a freelance magazine writer who has written for several North American magazines such as Africulture magazine, Planet Africa magazine, The Christian Jones magazine, Mudd magazine and The Caribbean Current to name a few.

I also operate a very popular blog called “Simone's Blog-Depicting the Writer in You” where I conduct exclusive author interviews, market, advertise and promote books, eBooks, published authors, self-publishers and anyone in the writing arena. And finally, I will be launching an independently owned and operated publishing company called 'We Read Press' (www.wereadpress.com) in the coming months.


"Who says happy endings are only in fairy tales? Pray, believe and wait patiently on God
and He will make a fairy tale out of you." ~Simone Da’ Costa
Tiffany FORD
Author, Entrepreneur, Fashion designer
and Advocate


Multi-passionate Entrepreneur, Fashion Designer and Community Activist, Simone Walsh is driven by a deep desire to transform the lives of individuals and provide the tools for them to uproot the blocks that are keeping them from living their best lives. Creation is at the core of Simone’s transformative mission, as she believes in affecting others’ lives through multiple touch points. Graduating with a degree in fashion design, the talented creator launched her line Mo’knotic (meaning “having the power to attract”) in 2002 to help women reinvent themselves from the outside in. While helping to make women over on the surface, her mission is also to inspire others to make it through tough times that may make them feel like giving up. At a point in her life, Simone too wanted to give up after suffering through harassment and bullying. The experience left her depressed, but through treatment and the will of God, Simone was able to recognize that she was meant for more and God’s plan for her is to share her story. Drawing from her experiences, she turned to her pen to create a memoir of the trials & tribulations of her life. She has released a book of poetry called “Poetic Diary of a Bleeding heart” which serves as her testimony on how she escaped the darkness and found her way back into the light. Leveraging her diploma in administration, Simone strategically built Essence of Mind to focus on providing the tools and resources to individuals and families suffering from mental illness. The program’s goal is to be at the frontier in helping to end the stigma of mental illness in our communities and beyond. The venture targets individuals and families who are suffering from a mental illness and utilizes multiple platforms to reach these individuals: wellness activities, seminars, events, etc. Recognized for her strength to share her story on recovery, Simone was nominated as a finalist along with 25 other young woman on 29daysofhope.com. The post featured 25 women who are helping to give hope. The work of Essence of Mind outreach Program has been recognized by the House of Commons and a plaque was received from the MP of Brampton for the outstandingly good work the organization is doing. Simone also received the 2016 "Woman of Courage" award from the IWAA. Her inspirational message and fashion designs have been featured in such outlets as Rogers Television, SNAP magazine and the Brampton Guardian newspaper.


"Be Bold, Be Brave, Be A Rebel, Be YOU!"
Toyin DADA
World Music – Songwriter and Singer


With an inimitable velvety voice, Nigerian-born songwriter, singer and actress Sonia Aimy is a quintessential virtuoso of world music. Her music juts out unrestrained brilliance evoking the sound of afro-jazz, highlife, and call-and-response traditional African griot styles. Touching hearts and souls has been Aimy’s passion since she started singing at the age of eleven in her native Benin City in Nigeria. ‘Miss Aimy’, as she is called by some of her close friends, is a hardworking artist, who manages her time creatively engaging in numerous artistic initiatives. Her kind and generous spirit is evident in her lyrics and can be felt in her music and stage plays and is obvious in the much of an echo of Spirituality she leaves on the stage in her live performances. Her art is distinctly cultural with a deep sense of her motherland, an echo of Spirituality setting the backdrop and providing her audience the spiritual foundation for every moment of her presentation. Having shared the stage with the likes of Hugh Masekela, Mahotela Queens, Miriam Makeba, IGNAWA and Williams Parker; Sonia Aimy has earned an international audience seeking the best of Afro-jazz, contemporary African and world music she is a proud Executive Board member of Miriam Makeba Foundation.


“The power of your mind, determination, focus and love will take you beyond every expectation.” – Sonia Aimy
V.Ophelia RIGAULT
Event Producer & Community Lead


When I started my commitment to make a change in my community about 20 years ago, I started off as a board member at a community daycare centre. I am now an Executive Director at the Thorncliffe/Flemingdon Business Woman’s Association, The Chairperson of Pride in Heritage Children’s Centre, a member of the Flemingdon Urban Fair Committee, and the Founder of Tweens, Teens & Cuisines a cooking club for kids in the community.

They say I will never be successful as a single mother. As a mother of three, I have proven the ability to balance a professional life, give back to my community, and properly manage my home. With my children as my inspiration, I am an advocate for changing the poverty lifestyle stigma often associated with single mothers.

I now have been able to create two successful events: The Toronto Natural Hair & Beauty Show and The sisterhood Expo.



“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Vanessa WHEATLE
Social Service Worker w/ Toronto Community Housing, Author, and Speaker - Social Services and Entrepreneurship


When I started my I never dreamed of being where I am today. Immediately after high school I, along with a co-founder, launched my first Non-Profit Organization called ‘Healin’Scars’: a mentorship organization that supports healing in the arts. Around that same time I had my very first Social Service Employment opportunity at Tropicana Community Services while attending Seneca College. Following this I became an advisor to the Premier on issues facing youth province wide. They say I will never get too far without a University Degree. I had a past of battling mental health, being an immigrant, poverty, homelessness as well as a survivor of physical abuse by my father who was an alcoholic. I did not let any of those struggles dictate my future.

Now I have been able to inspire, educate, and uplift the masses both young and old. As an Entrepreneur I was also on the director’s panel for Ministry of Trades and Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure to review Province wide applications for a grant out of a 3.6 Billion dollar entrepreneurship budget.



“I truly believe that knowledge is power and experience teaches wisdom.
So learn as much as you can and appreciate all your experiences.”
Velma MORGAN
Writer, Author, Editor-in-Chief -- Print Media


Exercising her passion for writing, Tracey wrote and self-published her first book called "Count Your Blessings," a biblical based financial workbook in 2008, followed by the creation of her online bookstore which is an extension of her founding ministry Soulful Woman Ministries. Then in 2014 a faith-based magazine called Soulful Image was created. Since its inception in January 2014, Tracey has been recognized for her contribution to her community as a business owner, author, writer, and entrepreneur. She was nominated and won the 2015 Woman On Fire Media Award, 2015 Built To Inspire Premised On Excellence Award and 2016 Queens Rising Together Toronto Award. She is the founder and has supported many business and community events throughout the GTA.

Tracey has a passion for empowering women and families to overcome hardship and uses the magazine as a tool to help them reach their greatest potential through faith and hard work. Her core beliefs are what drive her. God, music, writing, community, and family are her greatest passions in life. And she aspires to bless all that she encounters.



“All Things Are Possible If You Believe.”
Vivian MBAKWA
Student, Healthy lifestyle Designer,
Speaker, Serial Entrepreneur


When I started my life path in this business I am currently on; as a mother of 5, student, serial entrepreneur, many called me a joke and they said I will never go too far on this path because I was just too lost and being a young mother of 5 never makes things easy. Now I have been able to prove them wrong and I’m still proving them wrong because I own a non profit home for at risk Youth; which runs fitness, wellness and empowerment classes for women, youths and others. I am working on a women’s empowerment series for women under Asha’s Couch umbrella. To capture my journey so far, I am working on my self help autobiography book; titled “A walk to talk to God” launching next summer.


“What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” – Napoleon Hill
Yosie St-cyr
Owner and founder of Curl Bar
Beauty Salon - Beauty Industry


When I started my first hair salon business in 1994 - a co-venture at the time made possible by combined resources with a good friend - it was a massive struggle financially and we could not get a look in on the banks for a business loan. However, armed with the unwavering conviction that we were offering a much needed service, especially for black women, we persevered, invested in understanding the science of hair and combined that knowledge with great and client-centric service in order to cultivate quality, reliability and ultimately loyalty from our clients.

Detractors said it was not a viable undertaking because it was during the recession and the wrong perceived notion of black clients as being fickle but our experience has been nothing but the opposite.

With professionally qualified and thoroughly knowledgeable staff, the hair salon has now evolved to focus on excellent service aimed at empowering women (and some men) to embrace, celebrate and manage their naturally curly and beautiful hair.

Being a breast cancer survivor I give back by providing emotional support to breast cancer patients during their journey through cancer.



"There is no impossible in my vocabulary.”
Yvonne AKPOVETA
COO/Co-founder of Kuwala,
E-commerce/Fashion Retailer


When I started Kuwala with my business partner, Freeda Mulenga, I didn’t expect I would gain new professional knowledge. From strategic marketing to web development, managing Kuwala has allowed me to gain enriching experiences in multiple fields. From researching online to exchanging ideas with other entrepreneurs, I am gaining essential skills as I implement best practices for growing Kuwala.

They say I will never succeed at promoting African fashion as mainstream style, because it is only for Africans and can only be be worn at special events. However, since launching we’ve seen African-inspired fashion gain popularity internationality and as demand grows, Kuwala grows.

Now I have been able to expand our partnerships with talented fashion designers on the African continent and in the Diaspora. At Kuwala, we see Africa as the next fashion production hub and we’re dedicated to promoting an ethical supply chain that creates jobs, increases trade and promotes economic growth.


“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with
some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” – Maya Angelou