Vancouver, BC, Feb. 26, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE) awards Sonia Strobel, co-founder of Skipper Otto the $25,000 Grand Prize Winner at this year’s Odlum Brown FWE Gala: Pitch for the Purse finale. The Gala took place at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver on February 21, 2019.

“I am incredibly grateful for FWE's tremendous support over the last few months – the mentorship, education and connections I have received are invaluable and are already propelling my business forward.” – Sonia Strobel, Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery.

Three finalists took to the Gala stage to pitch their businesses to celebrity judges Kate Ross LeBlanc, Founder and CEO of Saje Wellness, and Amar Doman, Founder of Futura Corporation before a live vote from the 670+ audience members selected the winner. Each finalist was selected by an investment heavyweight during the semi-finals in November 2018 who provided one-on-one mentorship leading up to the pitch finale.

“It’s an honour to co-chair Pitch for the Purse. There is no doubt that we’re closing the gap between women entrepreneurs and access to capital, enabling them to grow their businesses into successful companies.”, Lara Dauphinee, Gala Co-Chair.  

This year’s finalists, and industry mentors, were Patrice Mousseau, Founder of Satya Organics, with mentor Brian Paes-Braga Partner & Managing Director of the Fiore Group, Sonia Strobel, Co-Founder of Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery with mentor Ali Pejman, Partner with Fort Capital, and Jessica Oblak with Copper Medical Inc. with mentor Sophia Maizel, Senior Associate with HarbourVest Partners (Canada) Limited.

“We’re thrilled to see the company growth and opportunities that this year’s finalists have experienced since starting the Pitch for the Purse program last year.” said Paulina Cameron, CEO of Forum for Women Entrepreneurs.

“Each year we see the tremendous value of pairing these women entrepreneurs with industry-leading mentors who are able to coach them, provide support, and make connections to invaluable resources and we couldn’t be happier with the results from this year’s program.” “The Gala raised over $870,000, which will allow FWE to double its mentor program in the coming year.”  adds Christina Anthony, Gala Co-Chair and FWE Chair Emeritus.

Since the inception of the Pitch for the Purse program, FWE has mentored more than 250 female entrepreneurs across Canada. FWE program participants are three times more likely than the national average to be in business after five years and will create 10 jobs within her first three years of business. Last year’s cohort alone has collectively raised over $11 million since completing the Pitch for the Purse Program. Over the next 5 years, FWE plans to grow from supporting 650 women entrepreneurs each year, through its various programming, to supporting 5,000 female entrepreneurs each year. 

More information about Pitch for the Purse can be found at


About FWE:
The Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE) is a Vancouver-based charity that educates, mentors and connects women entrepreneurs to be wildly successful, promoting strong economies and thriving communities. With the goal of building the economy, one woman-owned business at a time, FWE supports women who are venturing into new business opportunities or ready to ramp up and grow their existing business. From start-up advice to specific tips and tricks, FWE leaders, advisors, and business professionals are ready to share their expertise through game-changing and impactful programs. Since its inception, FWE has curated over 2,000 Mentor pairings, counts 570+ E-Series Alumnae, and has educated and mentored 400+ women with Pitch for the Purse. More importantly, when you help a woman entrepreneur through FWE, she will go on to create 10 more jobs and grow her revenue by over 30% each year. Although 50% of new businesses fail after the first 5 years, women who are educated and mentored by FWE are beating the odds stacked against them and are 3 times more likely to still be in business than the Canadian average. Learn more at

Kelsi Carleton