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  • Writer's pictureGreat Companies

Kelly Lovell: Winner of the 2024 Great Companies International Women Entrepreneur Award

Name: Kelly Lovell

Business Name: BridgingTheGap Ventures

Location: Waterloo , Canada

Establishment (Year): 2013

Category: Social Enterprise and NGO

Profession/ Specialty: Media and Education

Social Media : Linkedin

Company Detail:

BridgingTheGap Ventures is a global media hub for the youth sector—connecting, supporting, and driving impact for all.

It is a Canadian women-led social enterprise that curates youth-relevant, purpose-driven content, communities, and collaborative experiences. The aim is to unlock the potential of young people to become future-ready—globally-minded, resilient, solutions-oriented talent able to adapt and thrive in the rapidly changing world.

Providing access is central to all activities—bridging opportunity gaps for underrepresented and underserved groups so they can adapt and thrive in the future of work, pursue innovation and entrepreneurship, and scale their social impact.

The partner network collectively serves over 41 million young changemakers, creators, and innovators under 30 in 243 nations and territories worldwide.

Unique Selling Proposition or Competitive Advantage:

As the global media hub for the youth sector, BridgingTheGap Ventures provides a streamlined and cost-effective way for stakeholders to tap into targeted next-gen audiences around the world—41 million young changemakers, creators, and innovators under 30 in 243 nations and territories worldwide. The brand platform YOUNGA World is the largest global festival for impact, uniting more than 200 global partners annually to co-create solutions with young people for sustainable development—giving brands unprecedented access to connect, engage, and learn from top global talent and young impact creators.

The unique 3 pillar approach—inclusive, intergenerational, and intersectional programming—aims to foster constructive multi-stakeholder innovation, uniting different perspectives, lived experiences, and knowledge together to create sustainable solutions that serve and support everyone.

BridgingTheGap is committed to eliminating opportunity gaps for underrepresented and underserved groups—be it women, youth, POC, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, low-income, rural and/or remote residents, newcomers, Indigenous Peoples, or racialized people—who may currently face barriers to building their careers, pursuing innovation, leadership, and entrepreneurship.

Challenges Faced During the Journey:

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted the business as all primary sources of revenue were restricted and, in most cases, stopped. Prior to the pandemic, more than 80% of revenues came from in-person events, speaking engagements, and consulting that required travel.

In 2019, the company had been developing its event portfolio, having successfully produced a cross-country innovation tour with local events in over six major cities across Canada, and all third-party events where the CEO and principal consultant was paid to speak required frequent travel to the United States and Europe.

When the lockdown came into effect, the company lost all main revenue streams, leading to a digital transformation and change in business model to a media company.

The company took a proactive approach to this transformation, realizing the future of work and the needs of young people were changing. They moved away from hybrid models, channeling efforts into engaging, supporting, and empowering young people virtually. The inaugural YOUNGA Forum came out of this transformation, which was pivotal for the organization and the young people involved.

The company also launched its global network of youth-led, youth-serving, and youth-focused organizations—the BridgingTheGap Alliance—in 2020, which has grown to more than 100 members in 240 countries and territories, serving 17.6 million young people worldwide.

Advice for Women Entrepreneurs:

  1. Know your worth and have the courage to ask for it: The first step in accessing power is believing it exists within. When looking to external sources to validate worth or that of the business, power is given away to something outside of one's control. Realizing the power within as the asset makes one unstoppable.

  2. Roadblocks are signals to new opportunities: When encountering challenges or things don't go as planned, see them as signals to look in another direction rather than stop signs. Some of the greatest business achievements have come from unexpected pivots in ways of thinking or doing business.



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