Local Driver Co-op

Local Driver Co-op is a ride-hailing and delivery platform co-operative, where the drivers receive 90% of the revenue and own the platform, securing their future in the new economy.

Direct Co-ops

The Direct Co-operative is a multi-stakeholder co-operative for associations, unions and co-operatives, operating as a buying group through its online B2B/B2C marketplace.


Our driver-owned and operated ride-hailing app, where drivers get 90% of the fare and riders save at least 20% on every ride., compared to the incumbents. Set to launch in 2022 in USA & Canada!

FareEats & Direct Local Eats

Our food delivery app launched in Canada, where drivers receive 90% of the delivery fee and ownership through Local Driver Co-op. Businesses are charged only a 5% transaction fee!

Building the economy of the future

Direct Global is a technology company focused on developing and operating platforms that allow purchasers to leverage their collective purchasing power to reduce the cost of procuring raw materials, finished goods and services. The company’s proprietary web-based platform enables organizations to create opportunities in real time for joint purchasing to harness their collective purchasing power.

Direct Global Buying Corp. has 20,000 small and medium sized businesses collectively buying and selling within its network and taking advantage of their collective pricing power. With a background in advocating for ‘mom and pop shops’, Direct Global focuses on helping small and medium-sized businesses.

Direct Global is scaling up using the co-operative model, which will allow member-based organizations to collaborate democratically and achieve purchasing efficiencies for their members that match big box and big platform competitors.

The Direct Co-operative initiative leverages the Direct Global platform to network and unite the buying power of the members of member-based associations and co-operatives who share common interests and believe in principles of fairness.

Direct Co-op aggregates the demand of its members (most of whom are group purchasers or participate in group purchasing themselves) in a way that brings purchasing power and efficient shipping to participants of all sizes and from all sectors.

Direct Global is the Canadian strategic partner to the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council and an ecommerce partner to NCBA-CLUSA (currently launching a pilot with the co-ops of Peru), America’s oldest co-operative association representing 1 in 3 Americans, as well as the exclusive ecommerce platform to the US Pacific Rim Chamber of Commerce. It has been featured on Bloomberg-BNN, Yahoo! Finance, Business Insider and received mention in “Everything for Everyone”, Nathan Schneider’s seminal text on the modern business co-operative movement.

Direct Global has received the support of the United Nations, for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals #8 (sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all), #9 (building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and fostering innovation), and #11 (making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable).

As Seen On

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Shipping, Commodities, Raw Materials, Goods and Services

Our Focuses

Our Apps

Direct Local

Our B2C consumer shopping app. Buy from local businesses in your area and get your order delivered to your door (curbside pickup is free). The ultimate way for consumers to support their local businesses!

Direct B2B

Our B2B app for businesses and co-ops, allowing our members to offer wholesale discounts to each other (with curbside pickup & delivery), vote on products & issues and communicate with other businesses.

Direct Local Eats

Our Canadian food delivery app, where businesses are charged only 5% with free curbside pickup and delivery by the Local Driver Co-op drivers at a fraction of the cost of the incumbents. Now available on Android & iOS!


Our US food delivery app, where businesses are charged only 5% with free curbside pickup and delivery by the Local Driver Co-op drivers at a fraction of the cost of the incumbents. Now available on Android & iOS!

Our Team


Ahmed Attia

President,CEO, and founder

Ahmed Attia is a successful serial entrepreneur with a passion for helping others overcome commercial barriers to success through co-operation.

In 1996, Ahmed founded International Business Exchange, a trading platform that enabled residents of developing nations to more effectively trade their commodities for finished goods and supplies by bartering, directly and indirectly, rather than paying in foreign currencies. As the project grew, it was re-branded as “Unibex” (Universal Business Exchange) and formed many effective partnerships, including with the American Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. As Unibex grew, Ahmed became concerned that it was straying from his initial vision by increasingly prioritizing the interests of large corporate partners.

Ahmed left Unibex in 1997 to found 416Direct, an internet-based buying group that would leverage economies of scale to increase the purchasing power of local small and medium-sized businesses (“SME”s) – 416 being the local area code for Toronto. However, despite considerable work in developing the 416Direct platform, SME owners were slow to appreciate the opportunity this model offered – many simply relying on the pricing offered through big box stores. In 2002, Ahmed put 416Direct on hold to help found Wiztel, a Canadian wholesale long-distance licensed communications company.

In 2011, Ahmed returned to 416Direct. As he updated the technology underlying the platform, he found a much stronger interest than before from associations that represent SMEs. A turning point came in 2013 when Ahmed became involved in community opposition to the development of a big box retailer in Toronto’s landmark ‘Kensington Market’ neighbourhood – long the home of small, family-run retail businesses. His engagement with this community and the owners of its many small businesses helped launch 416Direct. A key feature of the model that empowers SMEs is the ability of participants to collectively determine the products to be purchased. The company expanded into a new region in 2015, with the creation of 519Direct (based in the Kitchener-Waterloo tech-hub west of Toronto). Since then, Ahmed has introduced his web-based co-operative purchasing model to entrepreneurs and SME owners around the world. By 2017, what had started as a discrete, local project had evolved into Direct Global – a global solution for delivering the purchasing power of large scale orders to SMEs with over 15,000 participating businesses. In September 2017, Ahmed and Direct Global were profiled on Bloomberg-BNN in North America.

Ahmed remains an active community member, sitting on the advisory boards of the following companies:

1. Iristel (Canada’s fastest-growing carrier and the largest facilities-based local voice network extending Coast-to-Coast) and Kepler Communications (a Canadian satellite telecommunications provider that aims to deliver in-space connectivity to support the future space economy)

2. The Toronto Clinic (Canada’s premier corporate executive medical clinic)

3. Stemedica Cell Technologies (best in class FDA-approved allogeneic adult stem cell manufacturer in the USA)

4. Resdev Tax Consultants (top global R&D consulting firm serving Canada, UK & USA)

5. ConnectHub (next generation conference and business networking platform)

Danny Golnik

Vice president and co-founder

Serial entrepreneur with a background in computer science and eCommerce platforms. After graduating with a BSc in Computer Science from York University (Toronto, Ontario) in 2009, Danny founded Orchidea Group – a company focused on imports and exports of products and raw materials for the construction industry. The company later shifted its focus towards distribution of alcoholic beverages in Ontario and other markets.
In 2011, Danny shifted his focus to the road construction industry, where he sought opportunities for innovative Canadian and US road construction technologies in the Eastern European and CIS markets.

In 2013, Danny managed one of the first projects of the Russian section of the Belt and Road Initiative in Yakutia, Russia, employing US and Canadian technologies to begin the construction of a section connecting Russia with Mongolia in the South. While continuing to carry out projects throughout Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as the Middle East, Danny became involved with the agriculture sector, assisting the expansion of the Belarus-based tractor manufacturer Minsk Tractor Works market into Canada and USA.

Danny joined Direct Global/Direct Co-ops in 2015 and quickly became involved in the company’s day to day operations and its business development. Due to his software development background, his focus included the development of the architecture for the Direct Co-ops platform, overseeing the work of the company’s software development team, as well as other aspects associated with scaling the company’s operations, both vertically and horizontally, including sales, partnerships and its domestic and global market expansion.

Zoran Cocov


Zoran Cocov has over 25 years of experience in managing real estate investments in all asset classes of residential and commercial segments of real estate in Canada and USA. He held positions in property and asset management for variety of projects and currently has over $300 millions in projects under management. His expertise includes purchasing & disposition of real estate assets, due diligence in real estate developments and has an extensive experience in transaction structuring inclusive risk management. Zoran has participated over the years in large portfolios, individual projects, private capital corporations, partnerships, and JVs with over $800 million in completed commercial real estate and development projects.

Samer Bishay


Samer Bishay is President and CEO of Iristel & Ice Wireless, Canada’s leading provider of wireless and wireline IP services. As Iristel’s founder, Samer led the company from a small startup to an international telecommunications service provider with domestic infrastructure licenses on three continents (North America, Europe and Africa). Samer oversees global and domestic strategies for Iristel and Ice Wireless and their various brands such as Sugar Mobile. He ensures business objectives are in line with telecommunications trends; guaranteeing customers continued success in highly competitive markets. Well known in the telecommunications field, Samer is a frequent contributor to various public platforms; from newspapers and television to social media and industry websites. Samer also actively participates in many public forums that are helping shape Canadian broadband policy; a key to Canada’s future, especially related to rural broadband development and bridging the digital divide.
A licensed jet pilot, Samer was appointed Honorary Colonel of 34 Signal Regiment of the Canadian Armed Forces in 2019. In this role, Colonel Bishay serves as an advocate for the Regiment and the CAF in general; and he helps strengthen the military’s bond with the community. Prior to founding Iristel, Samer was a lead systems engineer in the Radarsat program at the Canadian Space Agency. He is a graduate of the Space & Communications program at York University, with an Honors Bachelor of Science Degree.


Holmes H. Stoner


Mr. Stoner has spent the last 18 years as Founder and Chairman of the Pacific Rim Chamber of Commerce and the American International Business Council. His primary mission was to set up and administrate international business development, consulting services and business relations in the major emerging markets throughout the world. He personally manages the China National Tourism membership and the CCPIT (China Council for the Promotion of International Trade), KOTRA and JETRO and simultaneously assists in all other international operations of the company specializing in China and most of Asia and most of the Americas.

He has worked with most PacRim Governments closely setting up promotions for Trade, Tourism, Technology Transfer and Cultural Exchange Programs as well as financing programs.

Mr Stoner has been lecturing and giving workshops and seminars internationally for over 20 years and is recognized as an international trade expert in many business and government circles in the Pacific Rim Trade Arena. Prior to this position, Mr.Stoner was the Senior Vice President/Founding Partner of Artesa Marketing Group based in Studio City, California. Artesa Marketing Group served over 50 major fortune 500 companies assisting them through their major advertising agencies and public relations companies in establishing communications and promotions programs with the exploding populations of ethnic groups in the USA. Companies like McDonald’s, AT&T, United Airlines, Philip Morris USA, Century 21 and Domino’s Pizza spent over $25 million annually through his company in their desire to reach these population segments. Other programs led to expanding into the international markets throughout the world in multimedia applications.

Program syndication in sports, movies, and music were also very much a part of Mr. Stoner’s duties helping many large companies enter the international broadcasting and internet markets. Mr. Stoner originally started in advertising sales in foreign language radio and television and was a principal in the first Asian radio station in the USA, KAZN AM 1300 in Pasadena, California as well as a pioneer in the International Channel on national television in the Americas. He worked closely with producers, production and post production people creating promotional campaigns for his clients. It was here that he made strong connections with foreign broadcasting network executives and advertising clients later expanding into IPTV and internet streaming programs. Mr. Stoner has served on many executive panels and committees in the last 15 years giving insights on multi-cultural international business relations and international women’s issues . He has been given national recognition many times for his expertise in these areas being interviewed over 20 times in major publications like Venture magazine, L.A. Business Journal, San Francisco Business Journal, Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Examiner and Seattle Times; not to mention 3 full interviews on CNN and CNBC’s Wall Street Report. He has a degree in Marketing and Marketing Communications from UCLA and is a graduate of the KIIS Broadcast Workshop. During the .com era, Mr Stoner served on the Board of Directors of FutureVest Securities and Web Capital Group helping many high tech and IT companies raise money and go public including several in Singapore, China and India. As of 2007 his latest accomplishments include co publishing of the PAIG of China (Official Procurement and Investment Guide) and to handle all international relations with the The Summit Club of Beijing, an exclusive millionaire’s residence near the Beijing 2008 Olympic Village. Other project include the launch of high definition internet television worldwide as on of the limited partners based in Vancouver Canada.

In 2009 Mr Stoner was instrumental in assisting in the development and execution of the 3rd World CEO Roundtable Conference in Beijing focused in the Sustainable Environmental Programs around the world working hand in hand with various United Nations organizations in the field. He helped bring small and medium sized businesses into the movement and got them to support the Green Movement in the Pacific Rim.

At the present time most of his efforts are concentrated in promoting issues with water, food and travel throughout the region and helping members expand their business internationally through his network of high level contacts and connections.

Steve Anthony

Director of Media Relations

Steve Anthony is a Canadian television host. He gained attention throughout Canada as a MuchMusic host, or “VJ” from May 1987 to November 1995. He was born Stephen Anthony Gomes on 2 April 1959 in Montreal, Quebec. In 1986 Anthony moved from Montreal’s CKGM to take the drive shift on Toronto’s Q107. He left the following year to join Much Music.
Since the year 1986, the name Steve Anthony has been recognized in media-markets around the world for his accomplishments and high standards. In Canada, Steve Anthony is one of the founding VJ’s of MuchMusic, which, along with MTV, pioneered music-video television in North America. During his tenure at MuchMusic, an unprecedented 9-and-a-half year, Anthony also became the morning show host at 102.1 CFNY in Toronto, followed by several other radio stops, including CHOM 97.7 in Montreal.
All through his on and off camera career, Steve Anthony became one of the country’s most sought after voice over talents. His dynamic and unique range allows him to compliment most any commercial and promotional campaign. On the commercial side, whether it be sophisticated high-ticket items, straight retail, or the some of that wonderful, creative quirkiness many of today’s ad agencies and clients demand, Steve Anthony’s voice sets brands apart and brings them to a new level. Yes, your station’s image needs to cut through; Steve Anthony’s voice will drive it home. Is your format Rock? Light? Country? News? Sports? Character-driven? Listen to the demos and you’ll find a fit.
Steve is currently the television co-host of CP24 Breakfast, owned by Bell Media, one of Canada’s largest broadcasters. As in his voice and radio work, Steve Anthony connects with listeners and viewers, who picked him as the GTA 2011 Top Choice Awards Television Personality of the Year. In addition to many other individual markets, Steve Anthony is also the signature voice of CTV Two, where his tones can be heard in every single market in the country.
He joined the CP24 Breakfast team in March 2009, helping wake up Toronto with co-host Melissa Grelo. Steve Anthony grew up in Montreal and landed his first gig at the local radio station CFOX-AM. His rich on-air voice and charismatic presence enabled him to build an award-winning career that has spanned over three decades in some of Canada’s most sought-after broadcast positions.
Some of the highlights in Steve Anthony’s career include 1986-1987, Q107 Toronto afternoon show; being one of the first MuchMusic VJ’s from 1987-1996; 1987-1989, CFNY-FM, Toronto radio morning show; co-hosting Toronto’s Breakfast Television from 1989-1994; hosting the Morning Radio Show for CHOM-FM Montreal from 1998-2001; 2001: A Space Road Odyssey television special; 2001-2009, Mix 99.9, Toronto radio morning and afternoon show; being a judge panelist for the top rated MuchMusic VJ Search in 2006.
Steve is a loyal supporter of the Hospital for Sick Kids, Princess Margaret Hospital, Rally for Kids with Cancer, Strike Out Cancer, plus many other local and national charities. Steve Anthony and his wife Tanya are dedicated pet owners to two-and-a half dogs and three-and-a-half cats, three very overweight felines. Steve Anthony has been voted for and awarded the Top Choice Award for “Top Television Personality in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area)” for the past two years, 2011 and 2012.
In August 2018, after learning of the downfall of so many “mom and pop” businesses over the years, Steve decided to join Direct Global / Direct Co-ops in their efforts to “change the world” and save the backbone of every community: its small businesses.

Deepak Baghel

Chief Technology Officer

Deepak Baghel is an experienced and highly capable leader, who will single-mindedly move an organization forward and hold accountable those responsible for the hundreds (even thousands) of daily actions and initiatives that underlie a typical program. He is an effective leader who will inspire employees and act as role model for the sort of behavior needed to encourage and embed change and progress.
Experienced Professional Engineering Executive in the Information Technology and Digital Transformation Industry with a demonstrated history of working in the Consumer and Business Services industry. Skilled in Business Transformation, Strategy, Sales, WEB Marketing, eCommerce Telecommunications, Business Management, Digital Automation, Leasing & Finance, Warehousing / Inventory / Installation, Call Centers Design / Build / Management, Network & security adviser, Business Intelligence and Analytics, Business Investment and Strategic Partnerships. Ex Senior Executive of Bell Canada with strong Telecommunications qualifications. Professional Civil Engineer from the University of Toronto with a Master Level Network Engineering Program in Electrical Engineering (Telecommunications) from University of Toronto. Co-author of “Practical Guide to Teleworking” for Bell Canada and its customers, basis of the guide was “Why take people to work, when you can take work to people”.

Andres Iracheta

Chief Financial Officer

Partner ADC Finance & VCM Soft landing

Finance executive and business partner with extensive experience in all corporate finance areas, strategic planning, leadership, and operational execution. Has worked for top tier international corporations like PwC in assurance and transaction services, and in Schindler Elevators as Finance Controller and CFO in Mexico, Latin America, and Canada.

Currently is leading ADC Finance, where supports clients through strategic and financial planning, business processes automation, and improvements of the finance functions. While in VCM Soft landing supports International Corporations expanding operations and finding investment opportunities in Canada.

Andres Has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the ITESM – Mexico; and a master’s degree in accounting and finance by the University of Technology Sydney – Australia. Lives in Toronto, Canada since 2014. 

Samuel Elkebbi

Chief Investment Strategist

Samuel is an international investment banker, deep thinker, and effective communicator with an exceptional investment insight.  He has a background of over 20 years in providing managerial, investment, financial & organizational services.  Samuel’s substantial experience was gained in investment banking, private equity, Venture capital and family offices over the financial capitals of North America (US & Canada), Europe (UK & Geneva), and MENA region, GCC (KSA & UAE).
Samuel has been advising institutional investors, private and public corporations on governance, corporate restructuring, financial engineering, capital and fundraising, change management, and corporate finance.  These have led to his recognition as a consultant that leaders of government and businesses alike can trust.

Malcolm Straker

Digital Marketing Director

Erin Blaak

Real Estate

Alessandro Castellan


Ian Lagarde

Creative Director


David Olsen


David Olsen is an experienced financial services professional with more than 20 years in the industry. He currently serves as the regional president and principal officer for PNC Bank Canada Branch in Toronto, Ontario.

Working across a broad spectrum of financial services in the United States and Canada, Olsen has developed a deep-seated knowledge of corporate banking, treasury management, business banking, retail banking and risk management. 

During his tenure with PNC, he has held a number of leadership roles, most recently as chief operating officer in Canada. He has also served as regional sales director for the regional president organization; division manager in treasury management, with responsibility for corporate banking product management; corporate banking relationship manager; workout loan officer; business banking underwriter and retail branch manager.

Olsen serves on the Public Affairs Committee of The Canadian Bankers Association.  He is the chairman of Select USA in Toronto, and is also a member of the board of directors for the Greater Toronto Area Chapter of The American Chamber of Commerce in Canada.

Mr. Olsen holds a bachelor of science degree from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and a master’s degree in business administration from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio.

Nicholas Thadaney


Mr. Nicholas Thadaney, also known as Nick, was President and Chief Executive Officer of Global Equity Capital Markets, TMX Group limited (“TMX Group”) until January 16, 2018. He left the TMX Group Limited on February 28,2018 after six weeks in a special advisory capacity to ensure a smooth transition. Mr. Thadaney has extensive business, leadership and client development experience, as well as a strong commitment to developing superior value propositions from the perspective of the market and TMX Group clients, both in Canada and globally. Prior to joining TMX Group in 2015, Mr. Thadaney was Chief Executive Officer of Investment Technology Group, Inc. (“ITG”) Canada Corp. since 2005. Previously, he was Director of Sales and Trading of ITG Canada’s Institutional Equities business from 2000 to 2005.Before his tenure at ITG, Mr. Thadaney was Vice-President, Business Development (Equities) at C.T. Securities Inc., which was later acquired by T.D. Securities Inc. in 1999. He was Director of Aequitas Innovations Inc. He is also a Member of several industry associations and registered charities, including the Investment Industry Association of Canada, the Young President Association (Ontario Chapter), the Redwood Shelter and others. Mr. Thadaney earned a BA in Economics from York University in Toronto, Canada.

Stephen Belafonte


Stephen Belafonte is a widely known producer and director. He is popularly known for his films which include Thank You For Smoking (2005), The Mutant Chronicles (2008) and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009). Stephen has also produced the TV series I Pity The Fool. He started his career by setting up a film company called Remag right after he completed his graduation.

Josh Kopel


Josh Kopel is a restaurateur, tech pioneer and content creator. Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the spawn of bootleggers and retail giants, he was bred for the hospitality industry. Throughout Kopel’s 20+ year career in hospitality he has managed venues ranging from the Alligator Bayou Bar, located on Alligator Bayou Road, seated on Alligator Bayou (it was exactly how you’re picturing it in your mind) to the hottest Hollywood nightclubs, bars, and ultra-lounges (far less glamorous than you’re picturing it in your mind). 

Kopel went independent in 2010, opening his first concept Five0Four, a New Orleans-inspired bar, on the Walk of Fame in the heart of Hollywood. In subsequent years, he would open the Michelin-rated fine dining concept, Preux & Proper as well as South City Fried Chicken, voted the best fried chicken in Los Angeles by LA Weekly. Despite his success, he saw foundational issues within the industry and set out to fix them himself. 

In 2018, Kopel founded FLO Hospitality Solutions, a company solely focused on leveraging tech to bring more humanity to the customer service experience, not less. His first product, FLO, launched in 2019 offering an all-in-one communication solution for restaurants.

In 2020, the pandemic offered another opportunity for Kopel to serve the industry. In response to the devastation he saw, Josh created FULL COMP and Restaurant Marketing School, seeking out thought leaders from within and outside of the hospitality industry, using their wisdom to help the restaurateurs survive the present and thrive in the future.

Today, Kopel is on a mission to share his story, the lessons he’s learned along the way and the wisdom he’s collected from mentors like Brooke Williamson, Curtis Stone, Seth Godin, Wolfgang Puck, Will Guidara, Jon Taffer, Jet Tila, Nina Compton and Andrew Zimmern.

There is a proven recipe for success in the restaurant business and Josh shares it freely with the industry through the Million Dollar Restaurant community. 

Kopel’s varied interests and talents have landed him several positions of influence including his current role as President of the California Restaurant Association’s Los Angeles Chapter.

Lorenzo Borghese


Lorenzo Borghese (born June 9, 1972), commonly known as Prince Lorenzo Borghese, is an Italian-American businessman. He is a member of the House of Borghese, a cosmetics entrepreneur and animal advocate, and the featured bachelor on the ninth season of ABC’s The Bachelor American television show. Lorenzo is the son of Prince Francesco Marco Luigi Costanzo Borghese (born 1938) and his American wife, Amanda Leigh. His mother’s stepfather was sign and lighting designer Douglas Leigh. Lorenzo Borghese’s paternal grandmother was Princess Marcella Borghese, who founded the Borghese cosmetics line in 1958; it was a subsidiary of Revlon.

His storied paternal ancestors include Napoleon’s sister, Paulina Bonaparte Borghese (whose famous statue by Canova is displayed in the Galleria Borghese and is the focal character in Borghese’s new book, The Princess of Nowhere ,. ), Pope Paul V (Camillo Borghese) and Cardinal Scipione Borghese, both of whom had an enormous influence on Italian art and beautifying Rome in the 1600s, and who helped finish St. Peter’s Basilica. To honor Pope Paul V’s accomplishment, the Borghese family name (spelled in Latin, Bvrghesivs ) and coat of arms (eagle and a dragon) can be found on the façade of the famous basilica.

The Borghese family received their Papal Titles (Prince and Princess) from Pope Paul V in the early 1600’s. During that time, the Pope could raise armies and often had powers equal to a king, like a king, he had the power to bestow noble titles, called “Papal” titles, on people. These titles were often tied to territories of land. Prince Lorenzo’s branch of the family received five different titles, which include the Prince of San Paolo and Prince of Sant’Angelo and Duke of Bomarzo.

Prince Lorenzo’s ancestors were also one of the largest owners of property and art throughout Italy. While Pope Paul V was in power, he purchased entire towns and approximately 1/3 of the land south of Rome. As a family, the Borgheses became the largest landowners of the “Roman Campagna,” the central region in Italy, which is an area of approximately 1,300 square miles.

The Borghese name is displayed throughout Italy, including Florence at the Palazzo Borghese, Siena, where the family began and Rome where the name is most prominent. Rome’s largest Park, Villa Borghese gardens, was owned by the family until 1902, and one of Rome’s largest museums, Galleria Borghese, holds the family’s art collection. One of Rome’s most famous streets is also named after the family, Via di Fontanella Borghese, and the family’s crest can be found in many piazzas throughout Italy. The family also has a private chapel in one of Rome’s most famous basilicas, Santa Maria Maggiore. Beneath this Basilica is a private crypt where many of the famous Borgheses are laid to rest, including Pope Paul V, Paulina Borghese and her husband, Camillo Borghese as well as Lorenzo’s grandparents, Princess Marcella Borghese and Prince Paolo Borghese.

Personal life
Prince Lorenzo Borghese was born on June 9, 1972 in Milan and lived in Rome before moving to Paris and then to the United States. He is an American and Italian citizen. He was raised in Short Hills, New Jersey and attended elementary school there. Prince Lorenzo attended Pomfret School in Connecticut. He graduated from Rollins College in Florida in 1995, where he was initiated into the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He later received his MBA from Fordham University in New York City.

Prince Lorenzo currently resides in New York City. He is the founder and president of Royal Treatment, a high-end bath, body and skin care line for pets, using organic ingredients and fragrance oils from Italy, which can be found in hundreds of boutiques nationwide and on the television station Home Shopping Network. Prince Lorenzo is also a managing partner in LB2, LLC, a private label Italian cosmetics company that sells numerous brands to major department stores and direct retail outlets. In 2011 he founded and became President of Animal Aid USA, a not-for-profit focusing on saving animals and changing laws to stop animal cruelty.

In addition, Prince Lorenzo is executive vice president of Multimedia Exposure, Inc., a family-owned business that acts as an agency for various products for television shopping channels in the U.S. and Europe.

Reality television and author
In the fall of 2006, Borghese starred in the ninth season of ABC’s popular reality show The Bachelor.

In the summer of 2009, Borghese announced he would be searching for his “princess” on a web reality show titled America’s Next Princess. The show was to coincide with the launch of Royal Pet Club, an online shopping destination for his Royal Treatment pet products.

However, when the show debuted online on August 17, 2009, the series was actually revealed to be a spoof of celebrities and reality TV shows, with the premise of a millionaire dog searching for love among ten finalists, who are also dogs. Borghese appears on the show but portrays the dog’s butler. The series also revealed its new name, America’s Next Top Dog: The Princess.

In 2010 Borghese starred in the Dutch SBS6 show Coming to Holland: Prins Zoekt Vrouw (Dutch for ‘Prince looks for wife’) as one of the three bachelor princes. This reality show was based on the movie, “Coming to America” in which Eddie Murphy went undercover and exchanged his crown for a job at a fast food restaurant.

In December 2010, Borghese’s first novel, The Princess of Nowhere, published by Harper Collins, debuted. This historical fiction romance novel is a re-imagining of the life of the author’s famous ancestor, Princess Pauline Bonaparte, who became Princess Pauline Bonaparte Borghese after her marriage to Prince Camillo Borghese.

In January 2012 Borghese’s house search was featured on HGTV’s Selling New York.

In August/September 2012 he appeared on the 10th season of Celebrity Big Brother UK and finished in 7th.

Julien Christian Lutz


Known professionally as Director X, Julien was born in Toronto, Canada and is of Trinidadian and Swiss descent. After moving to New York City, he became the protege of pioneering hip hop director Hype Williams. Now X is known for directing high-budget, visually distinctive videos for popular artists, including Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, Jay Z, Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, Usher, John Mayer, Korn, Fifth Harmony, and many more.

His work has been nominated and awarded by the MTV Music Video Awards and Much Music Video Awards. Additionally, X has directed commercials for fashion designer Alexander Wang, Apple Music, Spotify, Gap, Virginia Black, Nintendo, Bacardi, Guinness and Yeo Valley; of the latter he earned a nomination for a Yellow Pencil Award for Outstanding Achievement by the D&AD Global Awards for Smirnoff Raw Tea Party which became a hit campaign for Bartle Bogle Hegarty UK. Whether working on memorable (or meme-able) videos such as Drake’s “Hotline Bling” or Rihanna’s “Work,” or treading completely new ground, Director X continues to push his own boundaries.

Continuing his foray into the world of film and television, Director X made his studio feature directorial debut with Superfly, produced by the legendary Joel Silver. As Director X advances through the landscape of filmmaking, he continues to travel from his roots of Toronto to his residence in Los Angeles, trailblazing his way into our homes and onto our television screens.

Ismail Awan


Ismail Awan is a successful serial entrepreneur who is involved in a variety of industries and ventures. Having studied Political Science at York University in Toronto, Ismail went on to lead the business development at Finetrade Ltd. – a company based in the United Arab Emirates, focused on trading of raw materials and particularly timber from all over the world. During Dubai’s construction market boom in 2007, the company was one of the pioneers in the country that started Dubai’s accelerated development. Today, Ismail sits as the chairman of the company.
He is also the founder of Simulation 1 Systems, a company founded in Canada, that is engaged in the creation of simulators for the automotive and aviation industries. The company later expanded to the GCC region, opening an additional branch in Saudi Arabia.
Ismail is also the co-founder of Iristel Kenya, a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MNVO) that is physically located in Kenya, due to the considerable emerging markets in Africa and the Sub Sahara region.
Additionally, he is involved in OWS – an automotive supplier in the GCC/MENA, where he is a strategic partner and shareholder. The company manufactures and supplies automotive spare parts, as well as re-manufactured auto components. OWS has a joint-venture with the UAE government entity RAFID, which operates accident assessment and response units in the emirate of Sharjah. The company also expanded to full service and maintenance of government first response vehicles (police, ambulance, fire services etc.).
Ismail also sits on the board of directors for ARCH Corporation, a Canadian-based company that offers alternative real-estate investment opportunities – a senior care fund which is focused on the development and operations of Tier 1 Long Term Health Care facilities for the growing elderly population nationwide.
In 2017, Ismail became the Direct Global / Direct Co-ops licensee in the GCC region and the UAE, founding both GCC Direct and 971 Direct. Ismail is also involved with the Direct Global Trade Center and Water City in the Niagara Free Trade Zone.

Brendan Denovan


Brendan is a strategic communications and public relations professional. As an entrepreneur, Brendan founded a communications company specialized in marketing, web development, communications strategies, branding, and graphic design in 1996. In 2013, he joined Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada to manage the communications and public relations program, which promotes the co-operative business model and advocates for an economy that puts people before profit.

In that role, Brendan was responsible for planning and executing communications strategies to advance and develop co-operatives and mutuals in Canada, including championing new and innovative ideas. Brendan also led CMC’s advocacy communications, member engagement, events programming, and policy research for more than five years. Brendan remains active and engaged with a global network of co-operative developers and advocates who are working with emerging co-operative business models on digital platforms.

Oweis Zahran


As a dynamic entrepreneur in the automotive industry, Oweis Zahran is the force behind launching innovative solutions in this sector in the Middle East. Born and educated in the USA, Oweis has a strong affinity to this region since his father set up businesses in the UAE under MZ Holdings in the early 90s. The Holding company’s 16 subsidiaries, in three continents, are primarily in the field of equipment supply, industrial manufacturing, automotive R&D, oil and gas as well as construction.

Before he joined University of Maryland as a business undergrad, Oweis was being mentored by his father and unlike other teenagers he was involved in major international business deals. This hands-on experience prepared him for a leadership role, which helped in the evolution and expansion of MZ Holdings’ B2C business. From setting up the largest auto remanufacturing unit in the UAE and expanding it to seven countries, to developing exclusive auto solutions with international celebrities, to launching a joint venture with the Government of Sharjah, Oweis, at the age of 28, manages three of its companies that include OWS Auto, Tatra Middle East and Transaxle ME.

As a serial entrepreneur, Oweis established Rafid Automotive Solutions in 2017 as a joint venture between Sharjah Asset Management and OWS Auto. Today Rafid operates diverse services that includes an accident reporting app, fleet of electric cars and provides vehicle emission testing to quick service and parts supply and more. In 2017, Oweis Zahran also launched Voltron Motors in the UAE and the US with Hollywood actor Tyrese Gibson, mostly known for his roles in The Fast and The Furious franchise. Customizing cars for corporates or individuals, Voltron Motors’ clientele range from Hollywood celebrities to corporate fleets to high profile people in the Middle East.

Oweis’s philanthropic endeavors match his business ambitions. The company runs a small yet significant operation of providing clean drinking water to families in Nigeria and Ghana. Established in 2015, with the collaboration of Nigerian ambassador to the UAE, H.E. Mohammed Gello, Oweis along with his brothers, have since established six drilling rigs in Africa.

Al Norman


Al Norman is the founder of Sprawl-Busters, an international clearinghouse on big box sprawl issues, and an author/land use consultant who has guided hundreds of communities around the world fighting corporations like Wal-Mart.
In September of 2004, Forbes magazine called Al “Wal-Mart’s #1 Enemy.” He first stopped a Wal-Mart in his hometown of Greenfield in 1993. Over the past 26 years, he has become known internationally as a citizen-activist and author who helps small towns fight off big retail developers.
Al has traveled to 43 states, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Japan, Barbados, and Canada with his anti-big box message at the invitation of citizen groups and merchants. His website, www.sprawl-busters.com has become a clearinghouse for megastore research and organizing. Norman’s first book, Slam Dunking Wal-Mart: How You Can Stop Superstore Sprawl (Raphel, 1999), has become an underground classic for neighborhood groups, and his second book, The Case Against Wal-Mart was released in June of 2004.  Both books have been translated into Japanese. His latest book, Occupy Walmart (Brigantine Media) was published in May of 2012. This book is a collection of essays written for The Huffington Post. Al’s website, http://www.sprawl-busters.com, with more than 4,000 site fight stories going back to 1998, is the largest collection of stories of local big box battles on the internet.
Al was featured in the PBS documentary Store Wars, about one Virginia town’s battle against Wal-Mart;  in the 2003 ITVS film Talking to the Wall; served as a consultant for the movie High Cost of Low Price” in 2005; was featured in the Our Town movie in Damariscotta, Maine in 2006, and in the Canadian movie Wal-Mart Nation in 2007.  In 2007 Al appeared on Penn & Teller’s show Bullshit.
    Al’s work has been covered extensively by the media. In February, 2001, the London Sunday Times Magazine called Norman a “fire-breathing evangelist”. His appearance on 60 Minutes in 1995 earned him the title “guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement.” “He’s been invited to preach the anti-Wal-Mart gospel in dozens of towns,” said 60 Minutes. The Wall Street Journal has called Norman “a one man anti-Wal-Mart cottage industry”. Norman’s work was featured in journalist Bob Ortega’s book In Sam We Trust; in Jim Hightower’s book Thieves in High Places; in the book How Superstore Sprawl is Harming Communities by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and in former Sierra Club President Adam Werbach’s book, Act Now, Apologize Later.  

Al Norman has appeared on the Lehrer News Hour, NBC Nightly News, ABC’s Nightline, The Wall Street Journal Report, CNBC Steals & Deals, Marketplace, The Al Franken Show, Talk of the Nation, NPR’s Here & Now, NPR’s Morning Edition, The Osgood File, and has been written up in The Boston Globe, Time Magazine, and hundreds of small town daily newspapers. In 1994 he wrote Eight Ways to Stop the Store in The Nation magazine, which was reprinted in The Utne Reader.
Jim Hightower calls Sprawl-Busters the “number one resource” in the country for fighting big box sprawl. Hightower called Al “a burr under the saddle” of big corporations.
    A former journalist for Newsweek magazine, Norman has drawn the close attention of big box retailers. “He’s definitely anti-growth,” says Home Depot spokesman Amy Friend. Former Wal-Mart Vice President Don Shinkle says Norman “is making large sums of money and is purposely continuing to distort this issue to line his own pocketbook.” “There’s no question he’s an entertainer,” says Wal-Mart’s Les Copeland. “That’s what he’s paid to do.”
    Norman lives in Greenfield, MA. He owns one share of Wal-Mart stock.

Boris Gregory Tsimerinov


Boris has completed approximately 40 successful mergers & acquisitions, private equity and financing transactions in addition to interim venture capital fund management, valuations and strategic & operations consulting projects. He has experience with companies in food & consumer products, healthcare, technology, industrials, transportation as well as financial, oil & gas and business services sectors. Boris has experience with domestic, cross-border and cross-continental transactions.

Boris holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree with High Distinction and a focus on finance, quantitative economics and mathematics from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. He is also a CFA Charterholder and a graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Executive MBA alternative (PLD). Boris is in the process of completing his Master of Laws in Global Business Law (GPLLM) at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law.

Boris is a speaker and presenter at conferences and panel discussions in Canada, the US and Europe with writings featured in the Canadian Business Journal. He has been involved with a number of not-for-profit organizations including War Child Canada, the Harvard Business School Global PLD Summits (New York, Boston, London & Barcelona), the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto Operetta Theatre and others.

Dr. Fabio Varlese


Dr. Fabio Varlese is a prominent specialist in Internal Medicine and Geriatric Medicine. He is the former Medical Program Director of the Rehabilitation Department and the Acute Care Unit at Baycrest Hospital. Dr. Varlese currently holds a position as staff Specialist at Mt. Sinai hospital and at Baycrest Center for Geriatric Care. He is the Honorary Medical Director at Villa Colombo Vaughan and recently accepted the position of VP of Medical Services at Runnymede Hospital.

Dr. Varlese is the founder of the Toronto Clinic, an Executive Health Centre at the forefront of the highest standards of medical care, personalization of service, Precision Medicine and medical innovation serving the corporate executive world. He is the founder of Global Medical Consulting, a satellite entity of the Toronto Clinic which addresses rare and life altering medical conditions, helping patients find innovative breakthrough treatments that can improve health outcomes.

He currently holds the rank of Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto and both his academic and professional work have honoured him with numerous prestigious awards.

Ramon Garcia


Entrepreneurial business and technology leader with 20+ years of global Health & Life Sciences experience creating and delivering transformative business and technology solutions with a focus on Commercial. In today’s Internet connected world this often involves an emphasis on patient outcomes and services driven by innovative business solutions and technology enablement. With his deep industry understanding Ramon facilitates and drives the creation of innovative, value driven solutions leading to long lasting client relationships.

Ramon brings passion and energy to everything he does and enjoys leading multi-disciplined teams. Offerings and capabilities Ramon specifically covers include Patient Services, Multi-Channel Marketing, Digital, Analytics and CRM (SFE Process and Technology). Develops and executes marketing plans to support offerings including conferences, points of view thought capital. Responsibility in leading client engagements and yearly account planning establishing goals and objectives.

As part of his remit, has worked directly for Country Managing Directors and Business Unit Heads across Health & Life Sciences industry, including Anderson Consulting, Accenture and Deloitte. He is experienced working in United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Jeffrey Steiner


Jeffrey Steiner is a Toronto lawyer and business leader involved in the media, real estate, and mining sectors. He founded New Franchise Media Inc., which develops film & TV projects based upon the bestselling novels of Jeffrey Archer.

In his role from 2002-2009 as President & CEO of the Toronto Economic Development Corporation (TEDCO), he developed the new Toronto headquarters for Corus Entertainment Inc. – a 500,000 square foot LEED-Gold green building on Toronto’s waterfront.

Mr. Steiner is a member of the Board of Directors of Canada’s official export-import bank Export Development Canada (EDC). He previously served on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE Inc.), which oversees government investment in the commercialization of university R&D through industry collaboration and venture capital.

His previous experience includes serving in the federal government as Chief of Staff to the Minister of Indian Affairs & Northern Development, and at the Department of National Defence.

Paul Sparkes


Paul Sparkes is an accomplished business leader and entrepreneur with over twenty five years of experience in media, finance, capital markets and Canada’s political arena. Paul spent a decade as a leader in the broadcast and media industry as CTVglobemedia’s Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs. He also held senior positions in public service, including with the Government of Canada as Director of Operations to Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, and as a senior aide to two Premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador.  Paul was a Co-Founder and executive vice chairman at Difference Capital Financial and serves on a number of private and public boards. He is currently President of Otterbury Holdings Inc., and is an advisor and deal maker for growth companies in the private and public markets.

Dr. Chun Yuan Chiang


Mr Chiang is an expert of bioscience and digital technology as well as an innovative technology entrepreneur. He studied in life science from The University of Hong Kong after a background in electronic engineering in The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

In 2014, he founded IHDpay Group, which is a digital technology company committed to provide a safe and efficient information technology platform. This platform is committed to making the digital world of medical services to be more convenient, accurate and cost-effective.

In 2016, he was appointed as the Chairman of The Hong Kong Institute of Cell & Molecular Medicine (HKICMM). HKICMM started with big data and cooperates with renowned academic institutions and other elite professionals. This is an open research platform, which applies advanced and safe digital platform, combines genomics, bioinformatics, systems biology, molecular pathology and clinical analysis, to serve precision medicine.

In 2018, he was appointed as Chief advisor of Technical Committee of AFS-IT ( Alliance for Financial Stability with Information Technology). AFS-IT is a non-government and non-profit international organization aims to help set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating threats to the integrity of the international financial system, to ensure the sustainable development of digital economy.

In 2019, committed to improving the well being of people through innovative healthcare service provision, Mr. Chiang is the co-chair of the Digital Health Global Initiative Foundation (DHGI) that is incorporated in Geneva. The DHGI is in cooperation with other relevant units & organisations such as WHO, GDPR and WIPO, to enable the worldwide availability of technology support and security application of healthcare services information digitization in order to promote the goal of “universal health-care , no one is left behind”, as envisaged by the sustainable development goal #3 Agenda 2030.

AJ Calloway


Two-time Emmy Award winning journalist, AJ Calloway has interviewed the most talked about humanitarians, politicians, and pop culture icons in the world. Most know for launching his entertainment career in New York as the co-host of “106 & Park, BET’s Top Ten Live,” a live music countdown show with a mix of celebrity guests, performances and music selected by viewers. To date, “106 &Park” remains BET’s most popular show earning network record-breaking ratings, becoming the number one video show in America.

Following his tenure at BET, AJ broadened his horizons and became the leading correspondent at EXTRA where he worked for 15 years earning the title of co-host and won two Emmys in 2014 and 2016 for Outstanding Entertainment News Program.

Currently, AJ serves as CEO and Chairman of Collective Professional Resource Group, a full-service media company, focusing on production, marketing, promotions and event-planning, as well as private consultancy to individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations.

A proud Howard University alum, AJ firmly believes in philanthropy, specifically supporting students and youth across the country. He serves on the Dean’s Advisory Board at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and returned to his alma mater and taught a graduate course pro bono on Hip Hop culture and its relation to public history, the university’s first course of its kind. A proud and active life member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., AJ enjoys spending his free time with wife and their three children.

Matthew W. Daus, Esq.


Matthew W. Daus, Esq. currently serves as Transportation Technology Chair at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Transportation Research Center of The City College of New York, where he conducts research, and continues to be extensively published as an expert on ground transportation regulation and technology. As a CUNY Distinguished Lecturer from 2010-2018, he taught courses on transportation history, policy, sustainability, for-hire regulation and technology. Mr. Daus also continues to serve, since 2009, as President of the International Association of Transportation Regulators (IATR), a non-profit educational peer group of government transportation regulators from around the world promoting best regulatory and innovative practices.

Mr. Daus is the longest serving Commissioner/Chair/CEO of the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC), where he served from 2001-2010. Prior to his tenure as Commissioner, Mr. Daus served in many other executive and counsel positions in NYC government for almost 20 years, including:  General Counsel to the TLC and the NYC Community Development Agency; Special Counsel to the TLC and NYC Trade Waste Commission; NYC Human Rights Prosecutor; and Commissioner of the NYC Civil Service Commission.  Mr. Daus is a partner at Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP, where he founded and chairs the Transportation Practice Group since 2010.

Nader Marzouk


Nader Marzouk is a self-styled serial entrepreneur – who over the last three decades has garnered success through innovative and ambitious endeavours while creating and nurturing the community of Toronto with his pursuits. A graduate of the Computer Science Program at the University of Toronto, his first pivotal moment within his career came as the founder of Digital Canvas; a web development agency that saw rapid growth with a top tier client list.

Following suit, Nader went on to help structure and grow the social media landscape – as we know it today – by creating one of Toronto’s pioneering social media platforms, meetmeinto.com. At its peak, meetmeinto.com boasted 500,000 members and 30,000 unique visitors daily with multiple press features in renowned national and local publications.

His entry into the Hospitality industry came by chance while sponsoring a charity event which led to the launch and development of a nightlife/hospitality marketing division of meetmeinto.com. This expansion later evolved into a highly successful company of its own.

Today, Nader is at the helm of a growing hospitality empire, which, includes various entertainment, food and beverage venues among other complimentary business holdings.

His success derives from his diverse background in business, and his innate attention to detail within all aspects of the business such as finance and people management has led this innovator to become one of Toronto’s most watched entrepreneurs.

Alessandro De La Torre


Alessandro De La Torre currently heads Digital
Media Strategy at the United Nations, for the UN Development Programme. (UNDP)
Currently based in los Angeles California, he heads tracking trending content
and analytics for Defy one Media, an agency responsible for Gen-Z media
connections to news outlets such as ABC, MSNBC, Stern Germany, and Time
Magazine. They also partner with private and public contractors such as the
United States Senate Relations Department to create avenues that appeal and
connect to Gen-Z audiences. Some notable media campaigns Alessandro helped aid
were the Biden-Harris 2020 election, the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics, Unilever,
and Bold.org.

In the public sector, he had worked in US
Congress through California District 39, serving a constituency of 3 million
people in the Los Angeles and Orange County Metropolitan areas. He also had
worked for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti through his development campaigns in
reinforcing the environments of the Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood areas.

Currently, Alessandro is managing millions of impressions from various channels across TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter through Defy One Media.

Rodrigo Contreras Lara


With over 20 years of experience in International Trade, Government and Investor Relations, Rodrigo is the former Trade & Investment Commissioner of Mexico to Canada, where he had the opportunity to forge close ties with business leaders from some of the most important industrial sectors in the Canada – Mexico relationship.

During his tenure, he had the opportunity to collaborate as part of the negotiating team of the Small and Medium Enterprise Chapter of the USMCA, and as well, serve as liaison between leaders of the automotive sector of Mexico and Canada to push forward in the negotiation, the provisions relevant to the sector.

Prior to his appointment to Canada, Rodrigo was from 2011 to 2015 the Trade & Investment Representative for Mexico to the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), concentrating on building business relations for Mexico in two of the most important economic zones of PRC: the Pearl River Delta (Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao), and the Yangtze River Delta (Shanghai, Jiangsu, Anhui and Zhejiang), Economic Zones.

Prior to his appointments abroad, from 2008 to 2011, Rodrigo held the positions of Executive Director for Investor Relations, taking part in the formation of what would become one of the most recognized and successful Trade & Investment Promotion Agencies in the world: PROMEXICO.

Rodrigo, as well served from 2000 to 2008 as an official of the Administration of the Government of the State of Baja California, Mexico, responsible for leading the Technology Investment & Development Strategy of the State.

Rodrigo currently is an advisor and partner to global companies in the automotive, technology (Industry 4.0), Biotech, investment and finance sectors, assisting them in their International Government Relations and Business Development Strategies:

– Advisor for Mexico Affairs to MARTINREA International. Martinrea is a diversified global automotive supplier, engaged in the design, development and manufacturing of metal parts, assemblies and modules, complex fluid management systems and aluminum products. It employ approximately 15,000 skilled and motivated people at manufacturing, engineering and technical centers in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Slovakia, Spain and China.

– Economic Advisor to American Industries Inc. (Canada). American Industries Group is a private Mexican company founded in 1976 that has supported the successful establishment of manufacturing operations for over 200 companies in Mexico through Shelter Administrative and Industrial Real Estate Services.

– Partner at Global Business Connectors. Global Business Connectors is a global business advisory firm focused on providing access to alternative investment opportunities in developed, emerging and frontier markets.

– Partner at SERICEA LabsInc. Sericea Labs is a global reach, research and development consultancy firm that provides technical and financial advisory support to companies looking to elevate their R&D and production capabilities to global standards, as well as advising them on their capital raising strategies in the emerging CBD Industry. 

Rodrigo sits on the following Board of Directors:

– Three Lefts (Canada). Is a research and development studio of emerging technologies focused on the Blockchain. Positioned at the forefront of the industry, Three Lefts have built leading bespoke blockchain enterprise solutions for a diverse clientele.

– Centro Escolar Ingles A.C. (Mexico). For over 20 Years, CEI has dedicated its efforts to the development of competitive youth for higher levels of education.

He has a degree in International Business, from the Center for Technical and Higher Education (CETYS University), from Baja California Mexico.

Mark Modeski


Mark currently serves as a Vice-President at Ipsos Canada, leading its social intelligence & analytics practice. Over the course of Mark’s nearly 15 years in the field, he has spent much of that time working on and managing large and complex studies and projects with a primary focus on Brand and Communications.

Mark has taken pride in managing significant client needs across a host of consumer and service categories, including working experience with a number of tech, FI and CPG clients. He has significant experience in brand, media and advertising insights, and takes pride in developing creative solutions to answer his clients’ questions and needs.

Mark has a degree in Political Science and Anthropology from McMaster University, as well as a Post-Graduate certificate from Georgian College.

George Papas


George Papas is a Toronto-based real-estate developer and founder of Direct Capital Investments, a company that helps finance and develop projects through various investment tools primarily through mortgages and equity investments to completion. Since its inception in 2011, the company has raised over $860M in equity and investments, primarily in mixed use development and construction. Mr. Papas has financed and developed 7 of his own projects from acquisition to buildout, including:

– 2 highrises

– 3 hotels

– 7 infill projects (5-7 home buildout)

– Retirement home (4-16 unit buildings in Manitoba)

– Nursing home (Picton, ON)

– 138 unit townhome project (Brantford, ON)

– 76 homes  

– 21 storey residential highrise (Vancouver, BC)

– 45 Housing projects in Calgary, AB

– Commercial plaza in Scarborough, ON

In addition, he is the founder of Morphe Developments, a company in the financial consulting sector and real estate development which helps the developer achieve the most suitable financing and assists in project management.

As an entrepreneur, Mr. Papas has been involved in international projects including a bottling plant in Greece, a meat packaging plant in Turkey, as well as structuring the sale and financing of 3 ships to British Columbia Ferry Corporation and setting up 26 franchise locations throughout Florida and Nevada, USA.

Mr. Papas’ education includes a degree in Business Management and Finance, as well as certifications in Canadian Securities and Automotive Financing.

He is actively involved in fundraising for the Navy and City of Toronto’s new water park, the Masonic Child Identification Program, and a bylaw committee for a local school in North York.

Jean-Pierre A. Laporte


Jean-Pierre is by training a pension lawyer specializing in employee benefits and retirement plans.  Until July 2012 he practiced out of the Toronto office of Bennett Jones LLP, a leading Canadian business law firm.  He was then appointed Chief Executive Officer of INTEGRIS Pension Management Corp., a provider of pension plans to incorporated professionals and small business owners.  

Jean-Pierre has written a number of journal articles on pension reform and pension administration, including the seminal concept paper on the Supplemental Canada Pension Plan published in 2004 by Benefits and Pensions Monitor, his idea having been advocated by provincial governments, thought-leaders and industry groups.   Jean-Pierre also drafted a private member’s bill in the Parliament of Canada that focused the federal government on adopting legislation to protect long-term disabled workers operating in federal employment.  His most recent publication in the Canadian Tax Journal is entitled “A Review of Individual Pension Plans”.

He has often appeared as an expert witness before Standing Committees of the House of Commons.  

For his efforts at improving pension security for Canadians, Jean-Pierre was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by His Excellency the Governor-General of Canada.

Chris Nowrouzi


Kapley Judge


After graduating Engineering from the University of Waterloo Kapley Judge had successful Manufacturing and Information Technology businesses. Kapley Judge is a serial entrepreneur that has transitioned into an avid investor and force helping to develop Canada’s strategic technology companies in his 300,000 square foot innovation and center next to Google in Kitchener. Kapley is also specialist in high density computing artificial intelligence and an original Blockchain technology developer and has been on many trade missions furthering Canada’s strategic technology position in the world.

Stephen Chen


Stephen Chen is an internationally-focused business executive with a network of companies and family offices.

Stephen is a member of the US Chamber of Commerce in New York City, the Urban Land Institute, New York Investment Network, and Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).

Stephen’s philanthropic work has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, ABC, and NBC. He has spoken at Yale, Brown, NYU, and Columbia University and is the recipient of the Orphans International Global Citizenship Award, the Dragon 100 Fellowship, and the C.V. Starr Fellowship. He has been profiled in two books, “Luck Does Not Exist” by Mario Calabresi and “Inspired!” by Vik Venkatraman.

Stephen was educated at NYU and Brown University.

Ashutosh Jha


Often described as a tribe of one, and one of the tribe, Ashutosh is an Entrepreneur based in Toronto (Canada). His projects are driven by needs and frustrations of his own, and people at large. He has been working with leading thinkers, artists, executives and entrepreneurs on initiatives across business, arts, philanthropy and public policy for over 19 years.

Ashutosh is currently focused on investing, consulting for and operating businesses that initiate or improve radical changes across diverse industries.

He is the co-founder of Abu Hummus (a healthy fast food chain), Urban Heights Real Estate (low income housing in the united states), Mama’s Water Kefir (natural pop with probiotics and no caffeine or dairy), La Fermenteria (gut friendly fermented packages foods like sauerkraut & pickles) and the newest partner to the “4Life natural Foods” store franchise in Toronto.

He is also a Director and Executive Advisor of dg Market, a micro-multinational procurement technology and data company, founded in 2001 by Development Gateway at the initiative of the World Bank, to make public procurement transparent.

In 2012, after losing his favorite cousin to smoking, he learned that smoking affects at least 1 billion people globally, making it the #1 preventable cause of death. He partnered with renowned heart surgeon Dr. Gopal Bhatnagar and Boris Giller to start 180 Smoke Vape Store, a crowd-sourced provider of a harm reduction products for smokers of tobacco, shisha, and cannabis. The business continues to help hundreds of thousands of people in their harm reduction journey. It was acquired by a publicly traded company in 2019.

He is also the former publisher of Canadian (online) music publication, The Scene Magazine, He was the group publisher for several addition e-magazines spanning mixed martial arts, advertising and wellness products.

Prior to taking entrepreneurship full time, he worked with Accenture Canada for several years in various roles including IT strategy and corporate sales. In the past, he has served as executive advisor to the CEO of ‘Karma Candy’, one of North America’s largest contract manufacturer of branded and premium chocolate products, and Prego Della Piazza, a landmark restaurant based in Toronto’s Yorkville Village. He has also worked in hospitality, publishing, special events promotions, artist development, software development, coding and enterprise technology businesses over the last decade. Through University, he ran a consulting company employing dozens of students part time in Toronto.

Bill Henessey


Bill Hennessey is the CEO and Founder of The Blockchain Society, The Entrepreneurship Society and The Cannabis Society which combine for 75+ conferences per year in New York, San Francisco, Berlin, Toronto and Vancouver. Bill was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year award. He also owns Qwatro, a chemical sanitation company.

Eli Kasik


Eli is a software developer. For the last 15 years, he has participated in various projects, including web, big data, devops and ecommerce.
As a tech lead, Eli mentored new team members and laid groundwork for new projects. His favourite side project has been a price analysis of Via Rail tickets.
In his current role as Senior Developer at B-yond, Eli uses graph databases, AI and anything it takes to help telcos unlock 5G and the infinite network.
In his free time, Eli enjoys biking, cooking and behavioural economics

Joe Lu

Vietnam Direct and Advisor

Joe Lu started from very humble beginnings. Joe came from a Chiu Chou Chinese family that immigrated to Canada from war-torn Vietnam in the lates 1970s. He was raised in a traditional Chinese family teaching him to respect, being well-mannered and honourable. Joe graduated from Seneca college with a marketing diploma and started his first real career working at a Rogers dealer. He was the top inbound sales rep for the first 2 years. After working at Rogers for almost 4 years, he started his real estate career purchasing his first property in 2008. It was then Joe found his passion in design and build. Joe and his wife, Lisa developed and sold more than a half dozen properties before he got into commercial real estate. From there he found creative ways to re-purpose properties before he found his interest in developing co-working spaces and helping startups. He founded his first startup in connectHUB, a Live corporate networking app that will revolutionize how business people network during events. When Joe isn’t working he spends most of his time with his family and friends, playing sports and reading inspirational books or listening to motivational podcast or videos. Joe now focuses on developing real estate, building connectHUB and helping his wife with their vegan fast food restaurant chain, Vego. He is passionate about philanthropy and is in the process of building a foundation to give underprivileged immigrant kids an opportunity to entrepreneurship.

Torsten Kunert


Abdulaziz El Dukair


Abdulaziz El Dukair is a graduate of Northeastern University and current MBA candidate at ESADE. He has Experience in Financial services with Empire Asia investments and Duke Royalty. As well as being a member of the board of directors for a nursery chain in the UK.

Ron Safer


Ron was an entrepreneur from the age of 8 by providing lawn services, delivering newspapers, and trading securities (mentored by his uncle). He followed in the footsteps of his parents (educators), grandfathers, whose interests in farming, food and technology resulted in both becoming successful business men (one a restauranteur, the other a manufacturer) and an uncle who grew commercial food services from a one-man-shop to a $50 million merger.

While doing graduate studies in physics at the University of California, he engaged in basic research under NSF/USAF research grants, earned life-time teaching certification and concurrently invested in real estate and securities. After a brief period as a computer analysist at the US Naval Weapons Center, Ron’s diverse experiences, as founder / co-founder of many SME’s, across many sectors that include financial and business services (advising, lending and consulting); real estate management, development and syndication; manufacturing (aluminum extrusion and fabrication), marketing; and international import-export, money transfer and telecommunications.

Ron’s current endeavors revolve around charities that focus on improving the lives of Native Americans and Veterans through programs of enhanced self-reliance and self-esteem, education, healthcare, and economic development through technology awareness, including blockchain.

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