Karen Gingras

After receiving a Commerce degree from the U of A, Karen worked with one of Canada’s financial institutions for 8 years, completing financial and risk analysis in her business loan portfolio. For the next 10 years, she continued her involvement with mircro-enterprise lending first as the provincial Loan Program Manager for Alberta Women’s Enterprise Initiative Association (now known as Alberta Women Entrepreneurs). Later she became the Executive Director of the Edmonton Community Loan Fund, which was a non profit providing microenterprise loans. This organization used a grass roots fund development strategy to build its lending pool of funds. Karen also created the financial literacy education curriculum and a matched saving program which is the foundation for the United Way of the Alberta Capital Regions’ Empower U program. Karen also developed curriculum for the workshop series that taught non profit organizations how to initiate social enterprises as a means to raise funds to advance their programs.

Keeping with enterprise development, Karen was the General Manager at the Lac La Biche Community Futures office. Operating under alternative lending practices, the Community Futures organizations are located throughout Alberta, and are funded by Western Economic Diversification, and many have been in operation for over 25 years.

Presently, Karen is the Executive Director of REDI Enterprises Society, a non profit organization in Medicine Hat that operates social enterprises where the profits are used to support service delivery to over 250 people who are living with disabilities, many of whom are also coping with chronic mental illness. Without these social enterprises, REDI would not be able to provide the level of support required on a daily basis.