Foodpreneur Advantage supports food and beverage start-ups

Call goes out to hundreds of food entrepreneurs

March 29, 2021

Libro Logo and SBC Logo

SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO – A new initiative to support start-ups in southwestern Ontario’s food and beverage manufacturing industry has launched – and it’s inviting hundreds of entrepreneurs to get involved.

Foodpreneur Advantage is open for registrations from people with innovative start-up ideas in the vitally important sector. It’s a unique initiative by small business centres, and is expected to train more than 300 people in its first year.

Foodpreneur Advantage offers:
•    A monthly series of introductory seminars and training opportunities to support entrepreneurs looking to get a start in the industry.
•    The Foodpreneur Scale-Up Program, offered twice a year, encompassing a comprehensive 10-week program for a select group of 20 businesses that produce consumer packaged goods and have demonstrated high potential to scale operations. The program will connect entrepreneurs to industry experts and mentoring opportunities.

This initiative is unique because of the collaborative partnerships involved. Spawned from the FedDev Ontario, Grove announcement made earlier this year, the London Small Business Centre was set to enhance its support to the sector, and Libro Credit Union stepped forward to help expand the programming through the region. The London Small Business Centre, Elgin St. Thomas Small Business Enterprise Centre, The Small Business Centre Oxford County and WindsorEssex Small Business Centre have come together to share resources and improve access to training and guidance for food business entrepreneurs.

Small Business Centres across Ontario can tell dozens of success stories about people they have supported across southwestern Ontario, such as Natalie White of Cafézia Coffee, who launched her Fairtrade, small batch roasted coffee business two years ago. You can read more about Natalie and many other food entrepreneurs here: Foodpreneur Advantage.

Steve Bolton, CEO Libro Credit Union said, “As our roots are in agriculture, Libro is excited to be a partner in this progressive industry. Our credit union has remained committed to agriculture and supports more than 3,200 farm and agri-business owners with world-class financial services including $1.2B in lending to all sectors. This initiative forms another important part of that work.”

Steve Pellarin, Executive Director, London Small Business Centre said, “We first began offering targeted programs to food related start-ups five years ago, with support from the London Economic Development Corporation. We are continually impressed and inspired by the growing number of food entrepreneurs who are pursuing their visions with purpose and passion. So many other communities are experiencing the same upward trend, and I am excited to see what we can accomplish when we pull our resources and connections together to positively impact our region and businesses we collectively serve.”

Sabrina DeMarco, Executive Director, Small Business Centre, WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation said, “Over the past several years we have worked to identify and channel more resources to support our local cluster of food and beverage start-ups by way of mentorship, training, and access to industry experts. Through this collaborative initiative with our regional partners, we are excited to build upon what we have started and to offer expanded ecosystem supports and access to networks to better support the growth and innovation of this sector.”

Tara McCaulley, Manager, Business Development & Entrepreneurship, St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation said, “The Elgin/St. Thomas community has vibrant food businesses and the industry continues to grow. We are excited to partner regionally with other SBECs in southwestern Ontario to further support businesses in the food industry and provide additional opportunities for learning and growth.”

Ramona Gallagher, Manager, The Small Business Centre Oxford County said, “The Small Business Centre (Oxford County) is proud to be a part of this regional collaboration for entrepreneurs looking to expand their food production businesses. Education and collaboration are key to building a strong network and we believe that the sharing of our resources and expertise regionally will provide our entrepreneurs with best practices that will allow for considerable growth in the agri-food industry.”

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We would be happy to arrange interviews with local small business centre representatives and the people behind the cool start-ups. For more information, please contact:

Project Lead:
Steve Pellarin,
Executive Director,
London Small Business Centre
T: 519-659-2882 ext. 226
C: 519-615-6073

Mike Donachie
Communications Manager | Coach
Libro Credit Union
T: 519-672-1030 x4344
C: 226-926-4068

Oxford County:
Ramona Gallagher
Manager, The Small Business Centre
T: 226-228-3576

St. Thomas:
Tara McCaulley
Manager, Business Development & Entrepreneurship
St. Thomas Economic Development Corporation
T: 226-377-0064

Windsor Essex:
Sabrina DeMarco
Executive Director,
Small Business Centre | WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation
T: 519-253-6900