Anne Whelan, president and CEO of Seafair Capital in St. John’s, took home the Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, the pinnacle award at the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE) 2013 Entrepreneur of the Year Awards gala Wednesday at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland in St. John’s.
Whelan operates several businesses, including Caregivers Inc., Blue Sky, BrenKir Industrial Supply and Seafair Capital. Her portfolio includes holdings in health and community care, industrial supply and real estate.
Whelan said the award is a great honour because, although she did not start her own business for recognition, it serves to highlight her great team of employees.
“Some of the industries that we’re in are tough because there are so many competitors and there is such a demand on the labour force,” Whelan said. “But I think that sending the message that we are doing our best and people are recognizing us for that will help us in retaining the great people that we have.”
Whelan said she did not see herself in this position when she was first starting out as a professional.
“I didn’t have a job when I graduated from my MBA and my mother had a homecare agency that I went to work in,” Whelan said. “Over time I got excited about the opportunities that I saw and I bought out her business and grew that and then started seeing other opportunities.”
Paula Sheppard, executive director of NLOWE, said the awards honour six women in six categories of business and entrepreneurship. She says this year’s event serves to showcase the large number of businesswomen in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“This year we’ve received more applications and more nominations than we’ve ever received,” Sheppard said. “We’ve had a lot of applications in the youth and startup category.”
Other award recipients were Amanda Burton, owner of Recipe for Health; Susan Power, owner of Higher Talent Inc.; Lisa Gillam, owner of Munchkin Music Factory; Bev Moore-Davis, owner of Morvis Group of Cos.; and Sharon Horan, owner of FIT For Work.
The Entrepreneur of the Year Awards have taken place annually since 1998. More than 200 nominations were received this year. NLOWE is dedicated exclusively to the support of women in business, providing a provincial network of community partners and female business owners as well as training, resources and opportunities to help women develop their businesses.