Connect. Learn. Grow. Mentor.


The Elgin/St. Thomas Small Business Enterprise Centre is excited to welcome guests back to the Elgin County Railway Museum for a LIVE and IN-PERSON Bridges to Better Business Event! While the return to in-person will look different from the traditional event, the SBEC is excited to be bringing people together again.

Join in the celebration of local small businesses and the accomplishments achieved through some of the most difficult months imaginable.

Safely gather and enjoy a gourmet local “Snack Cuterie” through a partnership with Relish! and to hear guest speaker Barb Stegemann, Social Entrepreneur, CEO and Founder of The 7 Virtues. The event will be presented in a hybrid format to allow attendees to also attend virtually as capacity will be limited for in-person ticket sales. Guests wishing to attend virtually will have the opportunity to pick up their picnic in St. Thomas in advance.

Event Date: September 29, 2021 | 5 PM
Location: Elgin County Railway Museum and ONLINE



We are excited to welcome Social Entrepreneur and CBC’s Dragons’ Den Top Game Changer, Barb Stegemann, founder, and CEO of The 7 Virtues, as our special guest in-person – FINALLY!

Barb first launched her perfume company, The 7 Virtues, out of her garage, armed with only a dream to help war-ridden nations rebuild. Just eight years later, it is now an award-winning social enterprise – supporting suppliers in countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, and the Middle East – and the first and only Canadian brand to be sold through Sephora’s “Clean at Sephora” fragrance space across North America. Through her inspiring entrepreneurial story, Barb shares powerful messages of triumphing over adversity, and empowers her audiences to embrace their inner disruptor.

A newsmaker, Barb first became known to millions of Canadians when she landed a venture-capital deal on CBC’s hit show Dragons’ Den — the first woman from Atlantic Canada to do so. She went on to become the “Top Game Changer” in the history of the popular reality show for creating her social enterprise.

 Since then Barb and her hypo-allergenic fragrance collection have been celebrated in major media outlets around the world, including Vogue, Elle Canada, Fast Company, Forbes, The Cut, Women’s Wear Daily, The Globe and Mail, as wells as CBC, CNN, Bloomberg, and more.

 Barb has been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by WXN; won the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” in the emerging Entrepreneur category for Atlantic Canada; was ranked as one of Profit Guide magazine’s “Top 30 Cool and Fabulous Canadian Entrepreneurs”; and was also made the first female Honorary Colonel in the history of 14 Wing Greenwood base, Royal Canadian Air Force, completing her term in 2015.

Barb is also the author of the bestselling book, The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen, now in its 7th edition, and the subject of the feature-length, award-winning documentary Perfume War, directed by Michael Melski.


While we will miss the traditional food showcase this year, we are thrilled to be working with Relish continuing to forge connections with the local food scene in St. Thomas and Elgin County. The menu is being finalized, but this “Snack Cuterie” Box is such a fun take on a traditional charcuterie board and we can’t wait for you to enjoy it!

The food package will be available for those enjoying the event in person or online!

Get your tickets now!


Each year, we have the opportunity to meet with some incredible people and it’s exciting to be able to honour a few of them with awards during Bridges to Better Business. It’s another way to show the Elgin and St. Thomas Small Business Community our support. Help us recognize the winners from 2020, listed below. We will be honouring the 2021 recipients at the September 29th event.

St. Thomas Small Business AwardSaint T Fashion & Hair Design

Elgin County Small Business AwardOur Fields

St. Thomas Economic Development AwardDoug Tarry Homes

Elgin County Economic Development AwardWildflowers Farm

Libro Small Business AwardEstablish Media

Inspirational Entrepreneur AwardJanis Harris, Harris Flower Farm

Under 40 AwardGenevieve Scarfone. Seed Confections

Starter Company Plus AwardTikka Tomato

Summer Company AwardAftertaste Style

Promising Start Up AwardFrom the Vines

Downtown St. Thomas AwardPeter Yurek, Yurek’s Pharmacy

Lifetime Achievement AwardCentury Sound


Events like this don’t just happen. It takes a village.

We are so thankful for Elgin County and St. Thomas for their ongoing support of the small business community and the support for events like this one. Thank you for supporting this event and the efforts of the Elgin/ St. Thomas Small Business Enterprise Centre to bring community together, even when we need to stay apart.


Bronze Sponsors


SBEC Partners







378 Talbot St.
St. Thomas, ON Canada
N5R 3L7

519-631-1680 ext 4503

“Creating an ecosystem where small businesses in Elgin County and St. Thomas can connect, learn and grow their business.”







8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

12:00 PM – 8:00 PM

8:30 AM – 4:30 PM

MON: 8:30A – 4:30P

TUES: 8:30A – 4:30P

WED: 8:30A – 4:30P

THURS: 12P – 8:00P

FRI: 8:30A – 4:30P