Canadian entrepreneur Victoria Lennox hopes to change the world one community at a time
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Victoria Lennox always knew she wanted to make a difference, but never thought she would end up being the voice of a movement to celebrate Canadian entrepreneurship.
"To transform a community you need to leverage grassroots groups to create a culture that supports it," she says. "I'm proud to be a part of culture that is helping others reach their goals."
As CEO and cofounder of Startup Canada, a non-profit dedicated to assisting entrepreneurs from coast-to-coast, she spends most of her days trying to shine a brighter light on startups and working alongside government leaders to create change. Her work has led her to being named one of Canada’s Top 30 under 30 in 2012 and recently being presented with The Queen’s Award for Achievement in Enterprise Promotion.
Being a cofounder of a national non-profit is a full-time job she confesses, and one that she never saw herself doing.
"It’s really interesting," she says about her professional journey from Oxford University graduate to community leader. "I chose political science and at the time I just thought you could only influence and better impact your community through [government] policy and by getting into politics," she says.
"When I was exposed to entrepreneurship and shown any individual can change how people live and ultimately create a future we want through jobs and innovation I wanted to be a part of it."
The 30-year-old, who will celebrate national entrepreneurship alongside business leaders and entrepreneurs in Ottawa on November 26, is committed to empowering Canadians who want to start their own business.
Founded in 2012, StartUp Canada boasts more than 80,000 members across Canada and affiliate groups in 80 universities, but a modest Lennox puts most of its success down to the organization’s hundreds of volunteers and input from the public who feed entrepreneurial drive in the country.
"Everything we’re doing with Startup Canada are ideas that people want to see happen and the momentum we have is because we are filling a gap that's needed."
Although the organization provides advice, resources and mentorship opportunities to entrepreneurs across the country, Lennox also hopes to foster better legislation to make it easier for Canadians to start their own businesses, especially for youth, who post-recession have experienced high unemployment rates coupled with fewer jobs in the past five years.
"I think full-stop entrepreneurship, especially at a young age, is the best way for a young person to gain experience and gain value," she says. "Like, with any startup it’s really difficult at the beginning you need to boot strap, you need to pivot, but it gives you the skills you need."
Although it's hard work, she encourages entrepreneurs not to walk away at the first sign of failure and instead embrace it to succeed.
"In the life of an entrepreneur, in a single day of an entrepreneur you’ll fail more than you’ll succeed,” she says. “It’s just about trying and persevering, but failing is part of it and that will help you learn from your mistakes."