2021 events / Rural Forum
Nana Adjoa A. Sifa
Nana Adjoa A. Sifa
Nana Adjoa A. Sifa is the founder of Guzakuza, a company that inspires African women in Africa and the diaspora to build resilient Agribusinesses. She works extensively on initiatives that directly impact women and girls in Africa, such as the Ignite and SheFarms programmes. In addition to being a founder, a farmer and an Agribusiness coach, She also serves as a member of the UN Women’s Economic Empowerment Reference Group in ESAR and The global initiative TIFS. She’s a jury member of several Agribusiness and Women initiatives, such as the Women in Agriculture Game Changer Award by the German Corporation.
Carleton Road Industries Association
Mackenzie Akin resides in Paradise with his wife and two children. He has always had a strong interest in helping others in his community; he decided to return to NSCC and graduated with a diploma in Human Services. His journey began with Carleton Road Industries Association (CRIA). Commencing his career with CRIA in 2001 as the instructor of their woodworking shop, Mackenzie remained in that position until 2009, when he became the Director of Client Services. He soon after was promoted to Acting Executive Director, until graciously accepting his current position in 2010 as Executive Director. In addition to ensuring that all of CRIA’s programs promoting inclusion and meaningful employment for its many participants continues, Mackenzie also enabled the non-profit to obtain the contract to operate the local gas bar, flyer delivery service, as well as the recent endeavours to manage the local post office, bottle depot, thrift store and diner.
Chantier de l'économie sociale
Béatrice directs the Chantier de l’économie sociale, an independent organisation that brings together actors and partners of the social economy, in order to promote collective entrepreneurship and develop new sectors and tools able to support the emergence of this development model in Québec. Beatrice has a background in economics and political science. She is particularly interested in and committed to, efforts to facilitate the collective action of a diversity of stakeholders in favour of a more equitable and sustainable economic development.
Founder and Development Manager
Born and raised in Argyll, with experience working locally, nationally and in Australia, South Africa and Thailand. Ailsa Clark founded Inspiralba in 2009, recognising the passion and determination in rural communities and the significant hoops and bureaucracy people have to navigate. She has been able to bring experience from income generation, running business, networking and community development into practice through the business and project management support Inspiralba provide for social and community enterprises across Argyll and the Islands. She has also provided an advocacy role for rural social enterprise recognising that over a third of Scotland’s social enterprises are in rural communities. As such, she was able to secure support from the Scottish Government in 2019 to establish www.ruralsehub.net to support networking, collaboration, information and learning resources for the rural social and community-led enterprise bringing experience and connections from across Europe and further afield.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service
Brady originates from a rural Australian community, Maffra. In 2019 he graduated with an Advanced Science (Honours) degree at Monash University. Brady’s Honours research project was to find a dairy ‘manure market’ to reduce nutrient surplus on Victorian farms. Brady further has a keen interest in entrepreneurship, education and building sustainable rural communities. Essential experiences have been coordinating leadership programs for Youthrive Victoria, his work as a Non-Executive Director for ACRE, and assisting with the recovery of the 2019-20 Australian Bushfires. As a Research Project Officer, Brady works closely with scientists and Traditional Owners to conduct freshwater ecology research projects.
SENVIC Regional Manager
The Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship (ACRE)
Pete Ekstedt leads SENVIC’s programs across regional Victoria. He is also the founder of Ekstedt Consulting, innovative coaching, counselling and consulting practice focused on the needs of senior leaders and entrepreneurs. From 2011 to 2016, Pete was CEO of a start-up charity dedicated to developing young rural leaders in Victoria. Before that, Pete had a 20-year management career working in the insurance, banking and IT sectors. Pete has been certified to deliver entrepreneurship development programs by the Micro-Enterprise Acceleration Institute and social enterprise programmes by Social Enterprise Academy Australia. He developed a passion for social enterprise in 2009/10 when he was executive sponsor of a network of 51 micro-enterprise development centres spread across the Asia-Pacific region.
Group Chief Executive
Wexford Enterprise Association
Kristi Fairholm Mader
Director, Initiatives and Innovation
Kristi Fairholm Mader
Kristi (KFM) has always worked in the non-profit sector, starting as a service provider and advocate. In 2001, Kristi began exploring social enterprise and enterprising approaches to social change. Kristi founded and managed several social enterprise initiatives in Vancouver, including The Cleaning Solution. Since moving to Vancouver Island in 2011, Kristi has been supporting the growth of the social economy sector through initiatives such as seCatalyst, Thriving Non-Profits and British Columbia Social Procurement Initiative. In 2021, Kristi has led the development of 2 new initiatives, the Business Legacies Initiative and Thrive Impact Fund.
Joy Tony founded her organisation Durian (www.durian.org.ng) to create self-sufficient rural communities by turning local waste into value while regaining their confidence and improving their lives. Durian functions within a craft village in the Imafon community where nothing goes to waste. At the craft village, Bamboo is used to make products like furniture, kitchen utensils, and jewellery; Cocoa-pods husk to make African black soaps, fabric waste to make children wear, and other products. There are also children learning spaces and a Cassava Flakes processing unit. At the cassava processing unit, starch and animal feed are also produced from the waste.
Realize Strategies Co-operative/Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada
John Kay is the chair of the Board of Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada (Canada’s national organisation for co-operatives), CEO of Realise Strategies (management consulting co-operative specialising in organisational and human capital development for impact organisations), strategic advisor to the board of directors of BC Tree Fruits Co-operative, co-founder of Buy Social Canada and long-time social entrepreneur.
Buy Social USA
Eric Lombardi has been working at the cutting-edge of the Zero Waste and Social Enterprise Movements across the world since the mid-’90s. His working mission has been to transform the waste management industry into a “resource management” industry. Eric was a national spokesperson for the first Zero Waste organisation in the U.S.A. (1997) and was a co-founder of the Zero Waste International Alliance (2002). Eric was invited to the Clinton White House in 1998 as one of the Top 100 USA Recyclers and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Association For Recycling. From 1989-2014, he grew a small nonprofit into the largest zero-waste social enterprise in the U.S.A. Eric is now the President of Buy Social USA and an Associate of the Social Enterprise World Forum.
Lisa Lowthers (she/her)
Common Good Solutions
Lisa Lowthers (she/her)
Lisa Lowthers is a single mum of three, Memaw to two, and the Learning Manager for Common Good Solutions. She has invested the last 30 years in business and community development in Canada. Through facilitation, training and counselling, she helps organisations build business models that diversify revenue streams and achieve defined social impact at the same time. She is a certified adult educator, an internationally certified small business counsellor and launched a national certification for community-based business developers in the fall of 2020. She also loves learning and teaching others about personality at work – and play!
South Islay Development
South Islay Development (SID) aims to maintain and enhance a sustainable community in South Islay through a strategy of community-led development – addressing issues of deprivation and gaps in the provision of service. SID aims to work with and empower community groups in initiating and supporting projects to make the community an attractive place to work and play. Central to these aims is that the actions carried out by SID will be informed and led by residents of the South Islay locality.
Common Good Cape Breton
Alyce Maclean works every day with people and organisations to improve the social, economic, and cultural wellbeing of her home island located on the east coast of Canada. Alyce was born and raised in Howie Centre, Nova Scotia, Canada. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Psychology (St. Thomas University), as well as a Masters of Arts in English Literature and Cultural Studies (McMaster University). Alyce has spent the last decade working in community development across various sectors and communities, including tourism, arts & culture, post-secondary institutions, marketing & communications, and Indigenous history & culture.
The Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust
Jane Millar started working for The Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust in 2019 at 22, not long after completing her degree in Business Management. She came into the organisation with limited experience working in the third sector; however, she soon learned a lot about working for a charity and community in a fast-paced environment. Jane’s role within the organisation is to develop projects that support the regeneration of the community, both socially and economically. She develops proposals, carries out community consultations, applies for funding, and supports project delivery.
First Australians Capital
Carly is a proud Gooreng Gooreng woman who grew up on Yorta Yorta Country in Victoria, Australia. She is on the Board of First Australians Capital, a not-for-profit organisation supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and entrepreneurs to access finance and wrap-around support. Carly is also a Senior Associate at PwC’s Indigenous Consulting; a majority Indigenous owned separate member firm of the PwC Global Network. Carly’s academic background is in law and public policy, having completed a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and Bachelor of Arts (Political Science) at Monash University.
Collectives for Integrated Livelihood Initiatives (CInI)
Ganesh Neelam obtained his Master’s degree in Geoscience from the University of Pune in the year 2000.
After his masters, Mr Neelam joined BAIF Development Research Foundation working on Watershed Development, Horticulture promotion for small and marginal families for four years.
He joined the Sir Ratan Tata Trust in 2004 towards handling the flagship initiative named Central India Initiative, focusing on enhancing the livelihoods of tribal communities in central India. He presently is leading, Collectives for Integrated Livelihood Initiatives (CInI), Jamshedpur, an associate organisation of the Trusts. As part of CInI, Ganesh is implementing an audacious program titled “Lakhpati Kisan” with more than 100,000 small and marginal families, primarily tribal.
Project Lead, Culture Exchange
Island Food Network
Jody works as a Project Lead for Inspiring Communities. She is also a Coordinator for the Island Food Network, through which she co-developed the Culture Exchange. This initiative creates grassroots opportunities for women to connect and learn together while laying the groundwork for culture-based enterprises. The program supports seven rural and underserved communities across the island, offering over 50 cultural skills workshops each year. When Jody is not working with the community, she is feeding the community. “I have run a small-scale vegetable farm for ten years. My farm has always been at the heart of how I give to and connect with community, friends, and family.”
Common Good Solutions
Robert Nichols works with organisations and communities to guide them to achieve their ultimate impact by facilitating result-oriented, community-driven projects. A strong communicator, Robert understands how to draw out and synthesise a group’s knowledge about an issue and give them the tools they need to address it. He has seven years of consulting experience with CGS, including leading deep community engagement processes and business and strategic planning projects.
Community Development Manager
Connemara West plc
Janet O’Toole is Community Development Manager with Connemara West (www.connemarawest.ie), a community development company based in Letterfrack, Co. Galway, which operates in the parish of Ballinakill, including the villages of Tully, Tullycross, Moyard and Kylemore. Established in 1971 following a local fundraising drive and owned by 500 local shareholder families, Connemara West is governed by a voluntary Board of Directors and employs 28 people directly. Although located in a remote rural area, the company has partnerships with many national and international public and private agencies and organisations to help it deliver services, infrastructure and employment in education, tourism, heritage, childcare, community radio, sports and community services.
Kelly Marie Redcliffe
Wolfville Farmers' Market
Kelly Marie Redcliffe
Kelly Marie Redcliffe has managed the Wolfville Farmers’ Market (WFM) for over 20 years and has participated in and led numerous projects and iterations of the WFM over the years. Highlights include co-managing an extensive capital campaign to move the Farmers’ Market into a permanent year-round facility and the development of an online Market and a Farm and Art Market store. What started as a few vendors in a parking lot has become an established market with three year-round experiences. Kelly has loved being part of this not-for-profit cooperative with a vision to better the health and vibrancy of its community.
Urras Oighreachd Chàrlabhaigh (Carloway Estate Trust)
Sally Reynolds studied Mathematics and Environmental Biology at Heriot-Watt and St. Andrews Universities. Following the completion of her PhD, she settled back on the Isle of Lewis in the village of Galson. Her professional career has seen her work within Lews Castle College (UHI), SAC Consulting and currently as Development Manager with a community landowner Urras Oighreachd Chàrlabhaigh (Carloway Estate Trust). Sally’s interest and passion for Land Reform have led her to become one of the first Scottish Land Commissioners. In her spare time, she is a keen crofter and livestock keeper.
University of Helsinki Ruralia Institute
Katja Rinne-Koski (M.Sc. Admin) works as a project researcher at the University of Helsinki, Ruralia Institute, Finland. She has been working in Ruralia Institute for several years in different R&D projects of rural research, development and education. Lately, she has been working with the themes of community-based social entrepreneurship and service provision in rural villages. In addition to rural social enterprises, her research interests’ concern multilocational housing and local citizenship and the research of homely landscapes and experiences of home.
Shona Robison, MSP
Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government
Shona Robison, MSP
Shona Robison was appointed Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government in May 2021.
Shona was born in Redcar in 1966. Educated at Alva Academy, she went on to graduate from Glasgow University with a Social Sciences MA and Jordanhill College with a Postgraduate Certificate in Community Education. Previously she worked for Glasgow City Council’s Social Work Department.
Shona was MSP for the North East from 1999 to 2003 and elected MSP for Dundee East in 2003. Latterly, she was Shadow Minister for Health and Social Justice and a member of the Parliament’s Health Committee before being appointed Minister for Public Health in the Scottish Government after the May 2007 election.
She was re-elected in May 2011 and appointed Minister for Commonwealth Games and Sport, and was made Cabinet Secretary for Health in November 2014. Shona was previously appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport in May 2016.
School for Social Entrepreneurs
Dirk Rohwedder is a successful social entrepreneur. Inspirational leader and manager with creative flair. Insightful coach and skilled facilitator. More than 30 years of experience leading change in the social economy. Founded and grew a successful rural social enterprise. Created and led regional accelerator programme and social investment fund. Instigated and led several European Union-funded partnership programmes, Leads the work of School for Social Entrepreneurs in South West England. Holds an MA in Sustainability and Responsibility and has developed specialist development programmes for environmental entrepreneurs. I passionately believe that business can be a force for good for people and the planet and that entrepreneurs don’t just want to make money – they want to make a difference.
Dissa Syakina Ahdanisa
Dissa Syakina Ahdanisa
Inspired by a volunteering trip to Latin America where she dined at a café staffed entirely by deaf individuals, Dissa Ahdanisa founded Fingertalk Enterprise to connect the hearing and deaf people in her home country of Indonesia and reduce the unemployment rate of the country’s deaf youth. After learning sign language, Dissa recruited a team of both deaf and hearing individuals to launch the Fingertalk Café, a cosy, comfortable space where everyone in the community can connect and share a meal—regardless of how they communicate. Seeing the success of the café, Dissa and her team expanded their social enterprise to include a handicrafts market and car wash, each providing meaningful jobs to unemployed deaf youth. Through Fingertalk, local business owners are beginning to shift their perspectives on what deaf individuals can do.
Dr. Wanda Wuttunee
University of Manitoba
Dr. Wanda Wuttunee
Dr Wanda Wuttunee is an internationally known professor and researcher in the field of Canadian Indigenous economic development. For the last 37 years, Dr Wuttunee has devoted her research agenda to understand how Indigenous values interact with capitalist values. She considers gender issues and the role of culture and tradition in mainstream business through social enterprises and co-operatives. The term “community capitalism” reflects her emphasis on the need for economic development to sync with Indigenous communities. Her work brings to the forefront the many different ways Indigenous peoples contribute to the Canadian economy.