VAUGHAN, ON –/COMMUNITYWIRE/– Pizza Hut Canada is topping off another successful year of its Equal Slice Program, providing free education, mentorship and grants to small business owners from underrepresented communities across Canada. In partnership with Initiative for a Competitive Inner City and as part of YUM’s Unlocking Opportunity Initiative, Equal Slice has provided a combined $200,000 in grants to small business owners since inception, helping them build capacity for sustainable growth and resiliency.
“At Pizza Hut, we are only as successful as the leaders who drive our businesses. Across Canada, our more than 500 restaurants are owned and operated by entrepreneurial, business-minded franchisees who believe opportunity is meant to be shared, just like pizza,” says Jennifer Ligotti, Marketing Director, Pizza Hut. “We continue to be inspired by these driven individuals, which is why we started Equal Slice – to support small business owners across Canada by ensuring they have equitable access to the education, training and resources they need to succeed.”
To date, the Equal Slice Program has welcomed more than 85 small business owners from across the country as participants. As part of its 2023 campaign, Pizza Hut Canada is excited to announce the five grant winners from Year Two of the Equal Slice Program:
Carolyn Simon, Choose Life Foods – Toronto, ON
Choose Life Foods is the home of plant-based Caribbean Goodness. It is a woman-owned food business that produces delicious vegan Jamaican Patties made with quality ingredients. Its mission is to fill a void in the food industry: create nutritious plant-based alternatives to the Caribbean’s most beloved dishes that can be enjoyed by all, regardless of dietary requirements.
“The Equal Slice Program was a great opportunity to connect with small business owners and share experiences with each other. The courses challenged me to re-evaluate my business model and growth plans as Choose Life Foods continues to expand its presence across the country.”
Tique Chandler, Chandler Honey – Toronto, ON
Chandler Honey offers a collection of organic raw honey sourced from her family farm in the small town of Scandia, Alberta and lovingly hand-infused with whole ingredients such as lemon zest and vanilla beans in Toronto. The result is creamy, white prairie honey available in unique flavours like Crème Brûlée, Lemon & Ginger, Earl Grey, and more.
“Equal Slice helped me slow down and look at the big picture, and it introduced me to some really, really impressive speakers. The education I received helped me see my business in new ways and equipped me with tools to continue to increase my sales and growth.”
Dodie Ellenbogen, County Bounty Artisanal Soda Co. – Toronto, ON
Specializing in unique and delicious farm-to-glass sodas made in Nappanee, Ontario, Country Bounty Artisanal Soda Co. derives its ingredients from locally grown Ontario fruits with up to 50 per cent less sugar than other leading brands. They are sweetened with fair trade cane sugar, contain all-natural preservative or no preservative, and are gluten-free and vegan.
“I really enjoyed the time to work on my business rather than in my business. My key takeaways from the Equal Slice Program were to think more about my business structure and culture. We plan to use the funds to aid in our cash flow and help us buy more local fruit from local farms and grow our local economy.”
Susan Keast, Resources Ink – Toronto, ON
Susan Keast is a self-employed human resource leader and CHRL (Certified Human Resource Professional) based in Muskoka, Ontario. At Resources Ink, she leads a team of HR specialists to help companies find the most qualified candidates to take their business to the next level, while providing job seekers with resources and support in finding their next ideal position.
“The Equal Slice Program was amazing. The grant money enabled me to expand my business to more rural markets and hire an additional co-op student, allowing me to serve my customers more cost effectively. The support, education and connections I gained throughout the Equal Slice Program have supported me in strategically building the business.”
Danielle Murrell Cox, Zuri & Dre – Montreal, QC
Danielle Murrell Cox, author of My Hair, was inspired to create faces that would showcase people who looked like her and the people around her. Zuri & Dre is a women-owned and operated business out of Montreal, Quebec. With a goal of celebrating uniqueness and diversifying toy boxes, Zuri & Dre & their friends, are available in plush dolls & accessories.
“I’m a team of one, so it was really helpful to access the education component of the Equal Slice Program. The valuable insights and support I received, along with the grant money, will help me expand my vision of plush dolls that celebrate uniqueness in all forms.”
A cohort of ICIC, the Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) program and Equal Slice provide participants with a free, 40-hour “mini-MBA” program that incorporates education, webinars and coaching led by university professors and local experts. Business owners are invited to take part in digital learning sessions and one-on-one business appointments with their mentor to discuss and help tackle immediate challenges facing their business.
Canadians can nominate themselves and/or small business owners from underrepresented communities in their networks to be considered for Year Three of the Equal Slice Program, which kicks-off this fall. Additionally, Canadians can now support the Equal Slice Program through participating orders placed online and in-stores at Pizza Hut locations across Canada. To learn more and nominate someone, please visit icic.org/urban-business-initiatives/inner-city-capital-connections/canada/#partners.
To learn more about Pizza Hut and the Equal Slice Program, and to read about the small business owners who participated in the Equal Slice Program, please visit www.PizzaHut.ca/EqualSlice.
About Pizza Hut Canada
Pizza Hut Canada is proud to be one of Canada’s largest pizza restaurant chains with over 500 locations locally. Globally Pizza Hut is one of the world’s largest pizza restaurant companies with more than 18,000 restaurants in over 100 countries. No matter where you find a Pizza Hut, they are making sure each meal customers enjoy is safe, delicious, and unmistakably Pizza Hut.
The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) was founded by renowned Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter in 1994 as a research and strategy organization that today is widely recognized as the preeminent authority on urban economic growth. ICIC drives inclusive economic prosperity in under-resourced communities through innovative research and programs to create jobs, income, and wealth for local residents.
Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) is a tuition-free executive leadership training program designed by ICIC to help business owners in under-resourced communities build capacity for sustainable growth in revenue, profitability, and employment. ICCC is uniquely designed to provide three critical elements for sustainable growth: capacity-building education, one-on-one coaching, and connections to capital and capital providers. To learn more, visit icic.org.
Jeene Sulaivany, Edelman