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October 15, 2010

Unconventional entrepreneur to speak at Brescia’s 9th annual Breakfast for Bursaries

Catherine AnnLondon, ON – Award-winning entrepreneur Cathrine Ann is about to option her gripping life story for a Hollywood movie but guests at Brescia University College’s ninth annual Breakfast for Bursaries will hear it first-hand when Ann presents on October 21, 2010 at 7 a.m. at the London Convention Centre.

In a candid interview Ann revealed that she grew up neglected and abused until she met the Marc Joncas, the man she would one day marry and who would support her desire to start a business that has become a multi-million dollar success story.

“I had taken a job selling dental implants based out of Toronto even though I was living in Vancouver. I quit that job and collected some unemployment benefits for awhile. This was a time when I was doing some things that I was not proud of, but I was always trying to do something better to get me out of a bad situation. Mark pushed me. He said, ‘You’ve got some good business skills there. Maybe we should think about doing something on our own.’

“When I picked up my last unemployment cheque, inside was a little slip of paper inviting people with a good idea to apply for SEEDS (Self-Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Society). Because I was a was always looking to even the score for a life and education I never had, I convinced him to quit his minimum-wage job to come and make millions of dollars with me. He quit his job so we were both homeless and living with our three dogs in his truck.”

Upon completion of the SEEDS program, which Ann said is the first thing she ever completed in her life, she had a business plan for Consumer Connection – the business that has made her a national success story and recipient of multiple awards. She returned to some of the business leaders she interviewed as part of the research for her plan and asked them to invest in her business because the banks denied her applications for start-up funding. No one said “no” because they believed in the strength and creativity of her plan.

The company’s web site states, “Consumer Connection specializes in customer service evaluations and analysis. We allow our clients to see how their business appears through the eyes of their customers.” Ann employs thousands of people – many on a contract basis – who have limited opportunities to earn an income, including people who are homeless, retired, disabled or stay-at-home mothers.

“Customer service was a pet peeve of all of ours. It was dwindling even 13 years ago and it still is, which is why my business is doing so well. When I put it out there, I do everything in my power to make it happen. It doesn’t get better over night. You have to be realistic. People don’t move as fast in my life as I want them to. There are ebbs and flows in life and business and you have to be adaptable. It’s miraculous how different I am. When I decided to do better and give back I changed on a physical and spiritual level.”

Ann has given back in many ways as a philanthropist, often supporting the charities that matter to her clients. A project she is particularly enthusiastic about is the Cathrine Ann Project (CAP) in Mexico. “Something that was important to me were dogs and animals because they were the only ones who would show me love when I was growing up. I said, ‘One day I’m going to give back to all the animals.’ I just formed CAP in Mexico as part of a veterinary school in Los Cabos. As part of the curriculum, they provide free vet services to all of the animal rescues in Mexico. My blueprint for this business plan may be adopted by the whole country because it’s changed the culture of how people deal with animals. It’s a big lofty project for me.”

Most of the proceeds from her book Beautiful Buttons, which will be available for sale and signing at the event, will support CAP. The book is also the inspiration for the movie she is about to option. “I think it’s a great story for the times. I have no doubt that this will be a movie.”

The proceeds from Breakfast for Bursaries support helps students with financial need to attend Canada’s only women’s university. For more information and to reserve a space for the event http://brescia.uwo.ca/support/the_foundation/breakfast_for_bursaries.html or contact Alison Vilaca at 519.432.8353, ext. 28446.

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Brescia University College, Canada’s premier women’s university college, is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario. The 1,100 women registered as either full- or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity. For more information, please visit www.brescia.uwo.ca

To view the release online, please go to Brescia’s Online Media Room at http://www.brescia.uwo.ca/media/newsroom.html

To arrange for a telephone interview on Monday, Oct. 18 or Tuesday, Oct. 19 with Cathrine Ann please contact:

Julie Maltby
Communications, Marketing & External Relations Officer
E-mail: julie.maltby@uwo.ca
Phone: 519.432.8353, ext. 28280

Note: Cathrine will have limited time for very brief one-on-one interviews on the morning of her presentation. If you’re interested in a brief interview at about 7 a.m. on October 21, please contact:

Sheila Blagrave
Director of Communications, Marketing & External Relations
E-mail: sblagrav@uwo.ca
Phone: 519.432.8353, ext. 28293

For more information about the event, please contact:

Alison Vilaca
Development Officer
E-mail: alison.vilaca@uwo.ca
Phone: 519.432.8353, ext. 28446