Venture for Canada and RBC Future Launch Supports 15 Youth Innovators Through 2019 RBC Fellowships

Venture For Canada
Jun 17 · 7 min read

Venture for Canada and RBC Future Launch are continuing a four year collaboration, as fifteen participants in the Venture for Canada Fellowship Program have been selected to receive 2019 RBC Fellowships from across Atlantic Canada, Ontario and British Columbia.

Venture for Canada’s CEO, Scott Stirrett, noted that, “Each of these fifteen recipients, think big, have a passion for action, and work to create initiatives that address social and innovation challenges in Canada and globally.”

Venture for Canada is a national charity that develops entrepreneurial leadership skills through training and supporting youth to work at innovative Canadian startups and small businesses.

“RBC and Venture for Canada have a shared commitment to supporting youth to thrive in the age of disruption and recognizing that entrepreneurship is essential to enhancing the wellbeing of all Canadians, from coast to coast,” said Scott Stirrett.

RBC Foundation, in support of RBC Future Launch, has committed $100,000 towards the Venture for Canada Fellowship, enhancing training offerings, innovating mentorship and alumni supports, as well as recruiting additional 15 Fellows to participate in the program.

“When experience is so important to getting a job, but so hard to come by, young people are left feeling uncertain about their futures in the new world of work,” said Mark Beckles, Senior Director, Youth Strategy and Innovation, RBC. “We hope that through our partnership with Venture for Canada, RBC Future Launch can help young people get those all-important first jobs and break the ‘no experience, no job cycle.”

RBC Future Launch is a decade-long, $500 million investment to help Canadian youth prepare for the jobs of tomorrow — RBC’s largest commitment to a social issue. With a focus on networking, skills development,
practical work experience, and mental wellbeing supports and services, the initiative aims to break down the barriers facing young people.

To learn more about RBC Future Launch please visit

To learn more about the recipients, please find their biographies below.


Tolu Aibana

Tolu works at a FinTech startup helping Canadian small businesses grow. She believes in creating positive change through greater self-awareness. She launched a peer-mentoring initiative called “Side Hustle Sundays”, a weekly meeting for individuals to get advice and feedback on their personal projects or career aspirations. In her spare time, you can find Tolu reading, writing poetry or spending time with friends at the park.

Sahil Ahuja

Sahil is currently involved with Marketing and Events at Volta. In his role, he has worked with the team to support and execute over 300 workshops and events targeted towards the Atlantic Canadian startup and innovation community. In his free time, he can usually be found watching tutorials on photography, video-editing, and filming — which is often followed by practicing what he’s learned.

Manuela Bárcenas

Manuela is an early employee of, a software company building an app for managers and their teams. Living in four different countries — Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and now Canada — led her to develop a passion for entrepreneurship and innovation around the world. Manuela strives to be an instrument of positive change and support for everyone around her.

Jimy Beltran

Jimy is a Business Operations Assistant at SomaDetect, an ag-tech startup seeking to improve the lives of dairy farmers and cows through Artificial Intelligence. He is also the Founder of Venezuela180, a non-profit that has sent hundreds of kilograms of humanitarian aid to Venezuela. Additionally, they support local journalists highlighting positive efforts of local organizations and sponsor low-income Venezuelans who require expensive medical treatments. In his spare time, he loves to practice yoga, play volleyball and explore the natural beauty that New Brunswick has to offer.

Marc Brown

Marc works at Mav Synergetic, an early stage company specialized in branded games as a marketing strategy. Although he was hired as a Business Development Manager he has taken on additional roles in software development and social media management. The company is launching their first product, Livekool, a game which links non-profit organizations with their local communities via a branded game experience.

Akil Bullin

Akil enjoys assisting customers with product comprehension and application, as a Product Specialist on Jobber’s Customer Success Team. He is a person who values the ideas and practices around growth and development within himself and others. Akil also co-founded For The Grind Inc, a networking platform that treats ‘grinders’ to a break from the hustle and bustle and allows them to redirect their efforts towards building relationships with other generous, lively and driven people. In his free time, you can find him enjoying good conversation with friends and family.

James Caldwell

James is the Product Marketing Coordinator at Alongside, a Moncton-based HR tech startup that is committed to improving hiring processes by focusing on enhancing the candidate’s experience. James has learned a lot about entrepreneurship from first-hand experiences. From his very first business of selling eggs from his family farm to opening a soap business during his time at university, he has learned key business skills. James believes a critical part of the entrepreneurial mindset is being able to learn as much as you can and share these learnings with others. In his free time, James enjoys hiking, kayaking, and gardening.

Alexandra Erb

Alex began working as a Program Manager at The Rounds. Now their Manager of Strategic Partnerships, she works with medical associations and non-profit societies to create educational programs for healthcare professionals. Alex spends her free time helping out with local environmental initiatives such as the Green New Deal Halifax and Oceans Week HFX as well as writing articles for GenW and Our Positive Planet. Her long-term goal is to build an international social enterprise that supports youth-led environmental and social initiatives.

Jasmine Huang

Jasmine is currently the Supply-Side Growth Coordinator at AquaMobile, an online marketplace for swimming lessons featured on Season 10 of Dragons’ Den. Jasmine believes that entrepreneurship starts with empowering the people in the communities around you. As a manager of a team of eight at AquaMobile, she prioritizes her team’s personal development and well-being by providing her utmost support and mentorship. She hopes to merge her passion for the arts and social cause to spearhead meaningful change in communities across Canada and the globe.

Zain Khan

Zain Khan is a marketer and growth specialist who currently leads paid acquisition at the venture backed Toronto startup CareGuide. He started his career at the United Nations Environment Programme in Switzerland, where he worked to help governments build more sustainable economic policies. Through the Venture for Canada Fellowship, Zain strives to build the future of Canada’s entrepreneurial landscape alongside some of the most driven young minds in the country.

Gavin Resch

Gavin works as a Software Developer at OTI Lumnionics, an OLED startup in Toronto. Gavin and his team use machine learning technology to research new materials with optimal properties for the innovative products they develop. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and staying up to date with artificial intelligence advancements.

Zameer Masjedee

Zameer works as a Solutions Engineer at Ottawa’s very own Shopify, where he helps develop technical integrations for enterprise clients. Outside of his 9 to 5, he spends his time working on his startup, LISN Ltd, with his 3 co-founders. LISN is a cross-platform mobile podcasting app that helps users discover and listen to shows, while also helping creators grow their audience and monetize their content without the need to rely on advertising revenue. Zameer is an advocate for the technology industry within Canada, and hopes to help grow those communities by actively volunteering as an instructor with organizations such as Ladies Learning Code.

Valentina Primossi

Valentina has been at the Atlantic Lottery Corporate Innovation since October 2018 where she started as a Concept Designer and moved on to Innovation Associate after six months. Her role is to bring her take-charge attitude as the team develops their business ideas from concept to reality. Coming all the way from Italy on a basketball scholarship in 2013, Valentina fell in love with Canada. Just like her personality, her days are very empathetic — filled of challenges and great experiences. She has a dream of setting up her own international business, but for now, she’s happy correcting her co-workers and friends on the pronunciation of “bruschetta.”

Sidra Sargana

Sidra is currently working as a Business Development Associate at the health tech startup, Tickit Health. Her passion for community developmental projects has enabled her to gain valuable experience with NGOs working on indigenous issues in Canada, gender equality in Pakistan and promoting education in Africa. Sidra believes that we have entered into an era of purpose where people are more driven to do meaningful work and it’s important to acquire skills at an early age that bridge the gap between acknowledging the problem and building a solution.

Marcs Wilkinson

Marcs leaped at the opportunity to round out his digital & business skills as a Product Manager at Sema. A willingness to grapple with the unknown & learn from failures is helping to define the new data-driven approach for software development and maintenance. A hitchhiker at the intersection of technical apparel, industrial design, and applied technology, Marcs takes on interesting design side-projects through his pay-what-you-want studio BIEM ETC design. As a stay-at-home shoemaker, he’s trying to make the first open source bike shoe more accessible to the masses

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