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GoodSpark Companies Create Positive Societal Change

Desjardins understands the power of business to be a force for good. That's why it launched the GoodSpark program and is supporting social enterprises from this season of Dragons' Den. Here, we introduce you to even more members of the inaugural GoodSpark cohort.

Twin sisters Lindsay and Alex Lorusso spent the early part of their careers conducting waste audits of major corporations for Wasteco, a waste management company co-owned by their father. They saw firsthand the vast amount of textile waste that ends up in landfills and decided to do something about it. Through their Toronto-based company Nudnik, they upcycle textile waste into their signature product The DISRUPTOR Tee, colourful, high-quality unisex children's t-shirts that are 100% organic cotton and compostable.

The Desjardins GoodSpark program contributed $25,000 to help the company build awareness of its t-shirts and its mission to recycle.

Leeza Zurwick hit on the idea for Happy Gut Pro after the American Health Association announced that gut health and brain health are connected and that probiotics are beneficial.

On her farm in the West Kootenay area in British Columbia, she had already taught herself to make water kefir, a fermented, carbonated probiotic beverage that is rich in beneficial bacteria. "After the announcement, it became my mission to teach people about fermentation and to make water kefir accessible to everyone," says Zurwick.

The company now assembles and sells water kefir DIY kits, grows and packages water kefir grains and brews bottled water kefir drinks. The products are available on the Happy Gut Pro website, Amazon and a growing number of other retailers. Zurwick also joined forces with the We Work! program to employ people with disabilities. "Three lovely girls [from the program] began working at Happy Gut and are now an important part of the team."

The Desjardins GoodSpark program contributed $20,000 to Happy Gut Pro to help raise awareness of the new company and to support its employment of people with disabilities.

The sisters are Fatima and Amna Sultan, aged 10 and 8, and their mission "is to bring the world together by bringing the stories, the struggles, the talent and the personalities of artists from remote parts of the world within reach."

Two Sisters on a Mission is an online art store featuring Indigenous, disabled and other talented artists from remote parts of the world. "We want to give a voice to artists who are often forgotten by the world," says Fatima.

Fatima and Amna have won awards for their impact and delivered keynote presentations at major conferences, events and startup competitions across Canada. They are now also published authors. Their book, Anything is Possible, is available on Amazon.

The Desjardins GoodSpark program donated $20,000 to help Two Sisters on a Mission build awareness and promote the work of its artists.

Jasmine BeĢgin was 10 months old when she suffered third-degree burns to her hands and legs leading her to spend much of her childhood in Ottawa's Children's Hospital. Determined to "pay it forward" for all those who helped her, she created the NOT SO UGLY Christmas sweater line with a pledge to donate 10% of each sweater's profit to the Children's Hospital.

The sweaters took off and Wear it Forward has since expanded to other apparel lines including hoodies, crews, tees and ball caps. The company has also grown its support of the community, donating $5 from every purchase to local charities.

The Desjardins GoodSpark program contributed $20,000 to raise Wear it Forward's profile and support its commitment to the community.