Fourteen of the 18 French-speaking finalists vying for the Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce's business awards are women or businesses or organizations managed or co-managed by women.
This number represents a record for the annual competition.
As he announced the list of finalists during the Chamber's Christmas party recently in Summerside, spokesperson Pierre Gallant, said that in the past the chamber often had difficulty getting sufficient numbers of nominations for its awards, especially those geared specifically to women entrepreneurs.
"We're very glad to say that this is no longer the case since women now appear to make up a majority of new business people and of those nominated for our awards," Gallant said. "Obviously, they are doing more or are finally being recognized more for what they are accomplishing."
Gallant also mentioned that the Chamber (CCAFLIPE) is pleased that its selection committee chose, purely by coincidence, finalists from one end of the province to the other, literally from Tignish to Montague, while passing through Evangeline, Summerside, Borden-Carleton, Rustico and Charlottetown areas.
"And yes, those who come from the two ends of the province are women," he added.
The CCAFLIPE received 23 nominations for its six awards this year; because it can only accept three finalists per category, it had to put aside several of the nominations received. The most popular category this year was Social Economy Business; seven nominations were submitted.
"Our finalists come from a very wide range of business sectors: the performing arts, tourism, health services, personal development, sales of various retail products and services and manufacturing," said the Gallant.
"The selection committee informed me that the scores were extremely tight in some of the categories, which obviously made their choices fairly difficult. The quality of submissions was also very good."
The winners will be announced during the Acadian Chamber's 17th annual Acadian Entrepreneurs' Gala at the Centre Belle-Alliance in Summerside, on March 17, 2018.
2018 Enterprising Youth of the Year Award,
- Jaylynn Shields, a sports and community leader from the Tignish area;
- Jérémie Buote, a Rustico magician who was part of the "Carnaval en promenade"
- Shelaine Gallant, an Abram-Village leader who conceived and co-ordinated the first Honour Run in the Evangeline region to raise funds for the Canadian Cancer Society.
2018 Social Economy Business of the Year Award,
- La Belle Alliance of Summerside;
- L'Exposition agricole et le Festival acadien of Abram-Village ;
- Le Centre Goéland/Village des Sources L'Étoile Filante of Cape Egmont.
2018 Business Personality of the Year Award,
- Ghislaine Cormier of Charlottetown (owner of the business The Great Shea, co-owner of Kaneshii Vinyl Press and executive director of la Fédération culturelle de l'Î.-P.-É.);
- Jeannette Arsenault of Borden-Carleton (co-owner of Shop & Play);
- Vanessa Lavoie of Charlottetown (owner of Island Orthotics).
2018 Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Award,
- Angie Cormier of Cape Egmont (a Cajun born in Louisiana who runs AcA Consultants and who has just acquired The Bottle Houses);
- Gidéon Banahene of Charlottetown (born in Ghana, Africa, and now owner of Kaneshii Vinyl Press and Danso Bikes, which manufactures and sells bamboo bicycles);
- Pam Arora of Montague (originally from India and now co-owner and manager of handcrafted products for Pam and Joe Handcrafted).
2018 Distinguished Entrepreneur Award,
- Angie Cormier of Cape Egmont (owner of AcA Consultants and The Bottle Houses);
- Jeannette Arsenault of Borden-Carleton (co-owner Shop & Play);
- Yvette Deschênes of Urbainville (owner-operator of Chez Yvette Bed & Breakfast).
2018 President's Award of Excellence,
- Kaneshii Vinyl Press, the business owned by Gidéon Banahene and Ghislaine Cormier of Charlottetown that presses vinyl records;
- Shop & Play, the Borden-Carleton gift shop owned and operated by Jeannette Arsenault and Don Maxfield;
- Vishten, the popular traditional music group based out of Charlottetown that continually tours all over the globe.