Province hands out dough for equipment, mentoring for young entrepreneurs


Adbul Haseeb Awan isn’t sure how he got in the business of selling sunglasses.


Made from recycled wood and bamboo, items from his line, Efani Eyewear, are going for $115 to $150 a pop.

“I have a background in electrical engineering. How it turned into all this, don’t ask me,” he said.

Awan is one of a dozen entrepreneurs using office space at the Exploriem Entrepreneur Network, run by Ottawa Senators founder Dr. Bruce Firestone, in the Lincoln Fields mall.

The non-profit received a $159,300 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Bob Chiarelli said Friday.

“Usually, when somebody’s creating their own jobs, in virtually every case, they end up creating other jobs as well because if they’re successful then it will simply grow,” said Chiarelli.

More than 100 young entrepreneurs in the region will benefit over the next two years. The money will buy new equipment, provide one-on-one mentoring, and bolster business and professional services for entrepreneurs aged 18 to 32. For details, visit

Awan said his products are currently made in Pakistan, however, he’s setting up a facility in Carleton Place.

Marianna Vakopoulos is using the space to start up Learning Beyond Books, a support program for children with learning difficulties. “I focus on the academic, social, and emotional development of the child equally,” she said.

Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

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