Your browser is not supported

Your browser is too old. To use this website, please use Chrome or Firefox.

Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Small Business, Big Impact: How SMEs are Pivoting During COVID-19


Small businesses have been at the centre of the economic crisis created by #COVID19 & many have pivoted during this unprecedented time. Join the @OntarioCofC & @RBC for a discussion on SME resilience with #DifferenceMakers featured in our upcoming report:

To register, visit:

About this Event

On Monday, June 22 from 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, join the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), RBC, and small business owners for an exciting panel discussion focused on small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) resilience during the COVID-19 crisis.

On that day, the OCC will also be launching its latest brief Small Business, Big Impact: How SMEs are Pivoting During COVID-19. This is following RBC ‘s recently launched report Small Business, Big Pivot A devastating downturn, and how Canadian enterprises can transition.

Ontario’s SMEs have been at the centre of the economic crisis created by COVID-19. Many have shown incredible resilience or stepped up, going above and beyond to divert resources to support relief efforts and their communities. Small businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy and integral to vibrant communities, but they have also been hit hardest by the pandemic. A situation that has sparked great concern among policymakers.

Join us for a discussion on how the economy is shifting and how many SMEs have successfully pivoted or adapted their operations during this unprecedented time.

What? Webinar on the OCC’s latest policy brief and panel discussion with 5 SMEs who successfully pivoted during COVID-19

When? Monday, June 22 from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm

Where? Join us virtually! Zoom link provided before the webinar.

Speaker Biographies:

Ashley Challinor, Vice President, Policy, Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Ashley Challinor is Vice President, Policy at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. Prior to joining the OCC in 2015, she worked in market research in Toronto, media in Tbilisi, and migration policy in Washington, DC. Ashley has an MSc. from the London School of Economics, an MA from the University of Southern California, and a BA from the University of Toronto.

Catrina Kronfli, Senior Policy Analyst, Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Catrina joined the OCC in August 2018 and leads various policy files for the Chamber. Prior to joining the OCC, she worked at the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers and Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration. Catrina completed her BA and MA in Criminology from the University of Toronto. She also holds a MA in Immigration and Settlement Studies from Ryerson University.

John Stackhouse, Senior Vice-President, Office of the CEO, RBC

As Senior Vice-President, Office of the CEO, John advises the executive leadership on emerging trends in Canada’s economy, providing insights grounded in his travels across the country and around the world. His work focuses on technological change and innovation, examining how to successfully navigate the new economy so more people can thrive in the age of disruption. Prior to joining RBC, John spent nearly 25 years at the Globe and Mail, where he served as editor-in-chief, editor of Report on Business, and a foreign correspondent in New Delhi, India. His fourth book, “Planet Canada,” is coming out in April.

Naheed Kurji, Co-Founder and the President and CEO, Cyclica

Naheed Kurji is a Co-Founder, and the President and CEO of Cyclica, a Toronto-based venture-backed biotechnology company that leverages its integrated AI-augmented drug discovery platform to decentralize the discovery of new and better medicines. He is passionate about building AI-augmented technologies that enable researchers to make more strategic and informed decisions in healthcare and the life sciences. Naheed is also a co-founder of The Alliance for Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare (AAIH), of which he is 1 of 4 appointed Executive Officers. He was named by Technology Innovators as one of the top 50 Healthcare Technology CEOs of 2019.

Ben Zimmer, President and Co-founder, Enable Education

Ben is not your average computer geek. In addition to being President of Enable Education, he has spent over twenty years in software development, engaging a variety of learners in applied technology. His background in teaching has fuelled a deep understanding of what is missing for learners along their path to success. He strives to fill this gap with exciting and engaging learning solutions that fuel a genuine interest in learning. His enthusiasm for teaching and clear commitment to new and innovative ideas have led him to champion the creation of online resources for thinkers of all ages.

Edmond Shahinian, Vice President of Special Projects, PCL Graphics

When done correctly, Wayfinding should be subtle, while also being noticeably. Translation. Don’t over do it. As member of the signage community I work to push the industry forward through new technologies and implementation of innovative production methods; allowing for creative dialogue between end User, design and manufacture. In world that demands bespoke design, I work to bridge reliability with modernity.

Jason Thompson, President, Superior Strategies Supply and Service

A proud member of the Red Rock Indian Band, Jason Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Superior Strategies team. With over 20 years of business and management experience, Mr. Thompson has proven to be a skilled executive and visionary entrepreneur.

The President of Superior Strategies Inc., and Superior Strategies Supply and Service, Jason is immensely proud to say these are 100% Indigenous Owned and Operated Businesses. These businesses have demonstrated continued growth year after year. The never settling and opportunistic traits are also evident in the recent acquisition of The Office Supplier Business, as well as the Imminent launch of Warrior Work Wear.

Throughout his career Jason has always demonstrated strong leadership skills and has realized the importance of building and maintaining a successful team. Passionate, collaborative, out of the box thinker are a few adjectives that can be used to explain Jason. A proud father of three, who recently welcomed his First Grand Child, Jason and his wife Tara are approaching 24 Years of Marriage, ultimately linking his success to his strong family support.

Jason remains an extraordinarily strong advocate for meaningful participation of Indigenous People and Businesses on a local and national level.

Don Ludlow, Regional Vice President, Business Financial Services, Southwestern Ontario, RBC

Don is the Regional Vice President for Business Financial Services in Southwestern Ontario Region at RBC, leading a team of financial services professionals focused on helping small and mid-market companies succeed and grow in the marketplace.

Previous roles at RBC have included National Head of Specialized Sales, Vice President, Commercial Markets, Director of Corporate Strategy and Development and Senior Manager in the Corporate Marketing Department.

Prior to joining RBC in 2001, Don served as an Infantry Officer in the Canadian Army where he led soldiers on a number of domestic and international operations and worked in both staff and training roles. Don has an MBA from McGill University, an MSC from the London School of Economics & Political Science and a BA from the Royal Military College of Canada (Kingston).

Don also believes in giving back to the community, and currently serves on the Board (and was a co-founder) of the Treble Victor Group (3V) a network of ex-military leaders who work to support one another in their post-service careers, as well as help military leaders transition to new careers. He’s also on the Board of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Northstar Trade Finance Corporation.

Outside of work Don enjoys playing sports with his wife Fiona and son Max, travelling and skiing.

Dr. Yousef Haj-Ahmad, President, Founder and CEO, Norgen Biotek Corp.

Dr. Yousef Haj-Ahmad is President, Founder and CEO of Norgen Biotek Corp. Norgen is a fully integrated Canadian biotechnology company focusing on developing products for sample collection, preparation and detection. Currently, the focus has been on developing and producing products for COVID-19. This includes swab-based or saliva based collection devices, viral RNA isolation kits and COVID-19 detection kits. In addition to being the President at Norgen Biotek, Dr. Haj-Ahmad is a recently retired Professor from Brock University, focusing on virology. With over 40 years of experience in molecular biology and business, Dr. Haj-Ahmad has proven to be innovative and successful entrepreneur.

Share this: