BUSINESS WITHOUT BORDERS
INTERVIEW: SÉRGIO RUIVO, president of the Federation of Entrepreneurs and Luso-Canadian Professionals
By Luís Aparício
The Federation of Entrepreneurs and Luso-Canadian Professionals (FPCBP) is a non-profit organization located in Toronto. Its goal is to bring awareness and give voice to the Portuguese community and promote business opportunities.
Some of the personalities who lead the organization we can name: Charles Sousa, current Finance Minister, Ana Bailao, currently elected to Toronto City Council for Ward 18 (Davenport) or even until recently, Cristina Martins, Liberal MPP with representation in the Davenport Area.
Created in 1981, the Federation currently represents around a couple of hundred entrepreneurs and professionals from different sectors of the GTA and Southwestern Ontario and it’s affiliated, among other things, to the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Toronto (EUCOCIT) and to the Entrepreneur Alliance of the GTA (GTBA).
Managed by a council of 12 directors and administrators, the FBCBP takes into consideration a series of events organized throughout the year combined with their monthly business forums, an annual golf tournament and the Annual Gala Awards, where outstanding business and academic performances are acknowledged with an award.
Currently serving a term as the president of the organization, Sergio Ruivo highlights the involvement of the federation in various causes of the Canadian society and the ‘lobbying’ for the community in the political and civic areas. He is up for the challenge and states: “The organization’s strength is made by the support and involvement we have received from our members.”
Discover Br|Pt – In what ways has the Federation been helping the development of the Portuguese community in Canada?
SR – “ In the years of the creation of the organization, Portuguese professionals in the community were very few and far in between. As a result, the models to follow by the younger generation were also very scarce. Then what the Federation decided to do, and did it very well, was to bring together what was available in the community at that time, and turn it into an example for a broader number of people in the community. Over the years, the Federation has been bridging Portugal and Canada and is trying to make more businesses willing to cross the Atlantic both ways. The last two or three years, through partnerships with governmental organizations in Portugal, we have been trying to establish a more concrete link between the two countries and help Portuguese business and initiatives to leave the space of its contained borders and venture outside of Portugal.
DBP – What other services and goals will FPCBP be putting into practice so that the Luso-Canadians can have a better integration in the political and civic life in Canada? Has it been a successful challenge?
SR – “ I believe we have been very successful. We have become a reference point in several organizations and governmental entities here in the province. When someone needs a Portuguese point of view, they contact us or we try to get involved whenever we perceive it would be beneficial to the Portuguese community” .
DBP – Personalities like Charles Sousa, Ana Baião and more recently Cristina Martins are leaders at the FPCBP. Curiously, they are all actively part of the political life in the province/country. Is it a coincidence or the Federation can take some credit for their successful careers?
SR – “ I have the impression we have influenced it quite a bit. Our organization gave those individuals a louder voice and Canadian society allowed them to be seen in a positive way. We have also supported several initiatives that were certainly well recognized and generally accepted by the general public”.
DBP – Has the profile of the Luso-Canadian Entrepreneur improved with time?
SR – “We have noticed a significant improvement because now the Portuguese products have a higher quality (…) and this is something that has been promoted by the general public in Canada. On top of that, we have been observing a diversification of the acting fields and sectors that have increased in number considerably if compared to 30 or 40 years ago”.
DBP- Is the 33rd Annual Gala Award for Entrepreneurship and Scholarships one of the most expected events in the Portuguese community?
SR – “Absolutely. We recognize that the younger generation has been putting a lot of effort in their studies at different levels. We also award three or four people for their entrepreneurship and their civic and professional contribution. We also like to award younger people who have been contributing with positive initiatives in society”.