Here is the list of all winners:
Winnipeg, MAY, 2012 – Manitoba Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award gala, hosted by Women Business Owners of Manitoba at the Winnipeg Convention Centre on May 17th.

Winners were also announced in the following categories:

Young Entrepreneur & Overall Excellence
(Sponsor: Winnipeg Convention Centre)
Amanda Saunders, EPIC Dealer Solutions Ltd.

Impact on Local Economy
(Sponsor: MTS)
Rishona Hyman, Aqua Essence Swim Academy

Building Business
(Sponsor: Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba)
Claudia Villatoro-Earl,

Lifetime Achievement
(Sponsor: City of Winnipeg)
Majda Ficko, Hair Do Zoo

Home Enterprise
(Sponsor: Winnipeg Free Press)
Kaye Grant, Reconnaissance Management Consulting Group Inc.

Emerging Business
(Sponsor: Cynthia Hiebert-Simkin, Inkster Christie Hughes LLP)
Marta Mikita-Wilson, Eco Stream

(Sponsor: Winnipeg Women Magazine)
Anita Sharma Turner, RE/MAX Associates

Excellence in Service
(Sponsor: CIBC)
Penny Brookes, Cruise World Inc.

Contribution to Community
(Sponsor: CTV)
Tannis Wilson, Covet Designs

International Trade
(Sponsor: Province of Manitoba)
Celeste Brunel, Celestial Designs Inc.

“Each and every one of our 30 finalists are to be commended on their success in business. We take pride in the integrity of our submission and judging process and anyone named as a finalist is certainly a successful business woman. The 10 women who won Awards on May 17th will join an esteemed group of Women Business Owners who have stood before them as winners of these prestigious awards,” said Lucy Camara, President of WBOM and Vice-President of Olatech Business Hosting Corporation. “Launching and running a business is a challenge for anyone. Being a woman business owner brings with it a unique set of challenges and it takes a true entrepreneurial spirit to embrace those challenges, managing risk and ultimately reaping the rewards. The Woman Entrepreneur of the Year gala is our opportunity to recognize and celebrate these successful women.”

The gala, MC’d by Gord Leclerc and Leah Hextall from CTV, was well attended, with more than 425 attending.

Women represent a growing economic force in Canada:
There are more than 821,000 women entrepreneurs in Canada.
Women in Canada make up a larger share of the self-employed than in any other country.
Women contribute in excess of $18 billion to Canadian economy each year.
Since 1976, the average annual growth rate for self-employed women has been 5.3% compared with 2.2% for men.
One-third of self employed Canadians are women.
Women entrepreneurs hold ownership in about 45% of Canadian small and medium enterprises.
Women Business Owners of Manitoba is a non-profit, independent organization that addresses the unique needs of the woman entrepreneur. Its mission is to support and inspire excellence, learning and growth in business. It provides a networking and support system unique to the needs of women business owners and strives to nurture and support its members’ personal and professional growth.

It is this commitment to excellence that leads the organization to continue to host the awards each year and to celebrating women entrepreneurs in Manitoba.

WBOM was created in 1986 in response to needs of women business owners. Since then, membership has grown steadily.

For more information:
Christine Dubyts, WEYA Chair,
Phone: 204-475-3307

Winners of the 2012 Woman Entrepreneur
of the Year Awards Provided in confidence and NOT to be disclosed or released before May 17th, 10:00 pm (cst).

Winner – Young Entrepreneur & Overall Excellence
Amanda Saunders, EPIC Dealer
Solutions Ltd.

Sponsor: (Young Entrepreneur) Province of Manitoba
Sponsors: (Overall Excellence) RBC Royal Bank

When Amanda Saunders recognized a gap within the automotive financing market, she founded EPIC Dealer Solutions Ltd. In 2007, automotive loans brokerages were new to Canada and Amanda had to explain the idea to both prospective borrowers and lenders. EPIC now works with over 300 small and medium-sized independent dealerships and 12 major lenders. EPIC services Manitoba dealerships in used and new markets, including the agriculture and construction industries, helping countless Manitobans secure customized financing options for their vehicle purchases. Amanda continues to add new services to meet industry demands.

Winner – Impact on Local Economy
Rishona Hyman, Aqua Essence
Swim Academy
Sponsor: MTS

Rishona Hyman started Aqua Essence Swim Academy in 1998 with just 35 students. She now employs 32 staff and has a thousand students. Aqua Essence offers swimming lessons for infants to adults, and keeps adding new services, such as French-language instruction. Rishona prides herself on keeping class sizes very small. Aqua Essence also offers courses from the Canadian Red Cross and the Lifesaving Society.

Rishona supports the local economy: her employees wear locally made uniforms and students pay admission to public pools. Most of Aqua Essence’s employees are under 25, and they are learning job and life skills that will serve them through life.

Winner – Building Business
Claudia Earl,

Sponsor: Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba
When she founded in 2007, Claudia Earl wanted to help people maximize their living space, while reducing the amount of waste sent to the landfill by finding a good home for “clutter”. Claudia kept finding new ways to help people, and the business kept expanding. Now,, with a fleet of trucks and caring and carefully trained staff, does packing, moving, clutter removal, cleaning, organizing and bed bug treatment preparation. Claudia helps seniors prepare to move from their homes, and she takes on jobs that most companies turn down, like hoarders and extreme cleaning.

Winner – Lifetime Achievement
Majda Ficko, Hair Do Zoo

Sponsor: City of Winnipeg
In 1987, Majda Ficko’s Hair Do Zoo was the only children’s hair salon in Canada. Child-sized furniture, fun décor and animal chairs all keep kids happy so they’ll stay calm while getting a great haircut from specialized stylists who only work on kids.

To complement the hair salon, Majda started Olen Cosmetics to formulate and manufacture all-natural products for babies and children. Her most notable product is Baby Butz diaper cream, developed to care for her severely disabled child. It’s now licensed by Health Canada, and has been included in gift packages at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards.

Winner – Home Enterprise
Kaye Grant, Reconnaissance
Management Consulting Inc.

Sponsor: Winnipeg Free Press

For the past 19 years, Kaye Grant, owner of Reconnaissance Management Consulting Group Inc., has been providing businesses and non-profit organizations with expert advice and assistance. Her motto is “we find better ways.”

Economic constraints and a lean workforce mean that it isn’t always possible for businesses and organizations to have all the necessary management skills. Kaye works with her clients to help them acquire knowledge, enhance their skills and develop their capacity. Kaye becomes part of the team, helping her clients build road maps to overcome challenges.

Winner – Emerging Business
Marta Mikita-Wilson, Eco Stream

Sponsor: Cynthia Hiebert-Simkin,
Inkster Christie Hughes LLP

Marta Mikita-Wilson’s goal is to create and market new products that enhance health and protect the environment. Eco Stream’s pioneer product is SodaStream, a carbonated beverage system available across Canada. Users make their own carbonated drinks at home, controlling their sugar intake and never sending another plastic bottle to the landfill. EcoStream has also developed the reusable aluminum Eco Bottle, and Save Rave, aesthetically appealing reusable earplugs useful for concerts, sports or sleep. Marta came to Canada in 1983 seeking new opportunities and is proud to work with her two daughters.

Winner – Franchisee
Anita Sharma Turner, RE/MAX Associates

Sponsor: Winnipeg Women Magazine

Real estate agent Anita Sharma Turner offers a full range of commercial and residential services to a wide range of clients, mainly in Winnipeg and the Interlake. After working with a team for three years, she became an independent Realtor with Re/Max in 2011. Anita helps clients prepare and stage their home for sale, helps them arrange financing and does whatever is needed to find the perfect new property. She enjoys helping her clients achieve their real estate goals by providing exemplary customer service.

Winner – Excellence in Service
Penny Brookes, Cruise World Inc.

Sponsor: CIBC

When Penny Brookes opened Cruise World in 1992, cruises were a niche market within the travel industry. With 20 years of experience, Penny and her knowledgeable staff are now “The Cruise Specialists” in a crowded marketplace. They organize escorted tours around the world for experienced and first-timers. Penny, who cohosts the tours, makes everyone feel welcome and she provides commemorative DVDs of each trip as a wonderful extra. Agents offer one-on-one advice, and can organize every aspect of a vacation. Repeat customers and referrals are evidence of the exceptional service at Cruise World.

Winner – Contribution to Community
Tannis Wilson, Covet Designs

Sponsor: CTV

In 2007, Tannis Wilson turned her jewellery design hobby into a new business, Covet Designs. She makes earrings, bracelets, necklaces and rings out of lightweight hammered aluminum – funky, fashionable and affordable, and every piece is one of a kind.

Tannis’s other passion is football. She has been involved in football, especially girls’ and women’s football for over 25 years as a player, coach, manager, organizer and administrator. Tannis is dedicated to creating opportunities for more girls to play this game of “strength, teamwork and brains”.

Winner – International Trade
Celeste Brunel, Celestial Designs

Sponsor: Province of Manitoba

Celeste Brunel is the founder of Celestial Designs Inc. Her background in environmental and interior design, and her study and travel in Europe, inspired her home décor product line called EcoArt: laser printed on aluminum. Her artwork, which she describes as abstract, contemporary and carefully crafted, is available across Canada and internationally. Thanks to Celeste’s outgoing personality and bold marketing skills, EcoArt is often featured in the media, movies and television, and has been showcased at the Golden Globes and Emmy Awards.