Learn To Accept That It Is Perfectly Fine To Be Different In Business And In Life - Stephanie Limage (Multi-Award-Winning Social Entrepreneur)

Stephanie Limage

Most people define success based on revenue, I base success on how many lives have been changed & how much social impact has taken place as a result of my actions.

1. How did you come up with this idea and go about executing it? 

Limage Media Group did not start overnight, I started my first grassroots non-profit organization in the DownTown East Side of Vancouver when I was 23 years old.

I began doing arts outreach events in the streets, I found that the best relationships could be cultivated right outside my art studio which at the time was at the corner of Main and Hastings, the heart of what is considered Canada's poorest postal code.

I have always been interested in the decisions and circumstances surrounding individuals who I have met that are living on the streets. I love to sit with people and learn their stories. 

When I was a teenager I was in the Canadian child welfare system as a ward of the state, which means the government was my legal guardian. I had many challenges as a young adult, I made many bad decisions based on trauma and pain which at the time I had not dealt with, luckily I am an artist and that has helped me tremendously over the years with self-expression. 

When I was 18, I was no longer a ward of the state and was taken off government support and considered an adult by law in the province I was living in. I had no plan, no skills or education to support myself and had to become very resourceful and learn to advocate for myself.

My journey at this time took me from Manitoba to British Columbia where I arrived by bus at 4 am with no money and nowhere to go. I lived in women's shelters for over six months, I went from shelter to shelter and met many unsavoury characters along the way and broken people. 

Eventually, I was able to get some ID which was a requirement to get social assistance and then I was able to get my own room rental and move out of the homeless shelter. When I was living in the shelters I got to know people's stories, the decisions they made and the cycles we as humans repeat if we do not obtain healing.

Months later I was working at an internet cafe and back in school but still really struggling emotionally. I was laying in bed feeling really sorry for myself and  I had a vision of a huge hand holding me, and then I saw a curtain and the curtain was not being pulled back to show me my destiny because I was unable to see clearly until I went to counselling and learned to move forward from my trauma.

This started my journey with cognitive behavioural therapy to retrain my mind and cognitions so that I could reclaim my life and be who I am called to be in the world. I believe that some of the people we walk by on the street who sit outside our offices and ask for money all have a destiny and value to add to society.

Everyone has a story, we can not look at situations and individuals as one body, each person has a unique set of challenges and one solution, like a shoe, does not fit all. I realized early on that when I reached out and helped others who were in a place of brokenness that I myself would find healing.

I feel this is a secret of life, a secret to finding inner peace in some capacity, to give and it shall be given to you, by that I do not mean to serve others or give simply to receive but what I mean is as a principal or an invisible universal law that when we give other actions manifest around us.

When we give to others we never lack in our time of need, that does not necessarily mean financial resources that can come to you in the form of relationships or someone bringing you encouragement when you really need it. 

These principles are what governs my personal and business infrastructure. 

When I started my first social purpose business it was before social entrepreneurship and social impact were actually words you would see, I was considered to be too out of the box at the time and had nowhere I fit, a round peg in a square hole.

This journey led me to live, work and build in Port au Prince Haiti post-earthquake where I learned more from the Haitian people than I could have ever imagined. I feel personally responsible to create systems, technology and programs that can assist marginalized peoples and make the world a better place.

I have seen levels of human suffering and anguish that are unnecessary due to complex catacombs of inequality, socio, economic and systemic injustice. I feel it is our responsibility as young entrepreneurs to use business to address the issues of today to leave the world a better place than when we entered into it and with the number of challenges we have today it is ignorant to think we can go on in the same rhythm, we do not need to reinvent the wheel we just need to make the necessary adjustments in order for the economy to be more inclusive moving forward.

I have created and developed several companies, programs and media properties over the years and my most recent creation is Give + Share Humanitarian Software (www.give-share.com). During the COVID-19 pandemic, Limage Media Group developed and currently manages a public google map tracking the status of free and low-cost meals in Vancouver BC Canada during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The goal was to provide ongoing updates to reflect the current status of meal programs as programming adjusted throughout the emergency. Limage Media Group has worked without any remuneration to coordinate efforts in developing this map which now has over one hundred and forty thousand organic users and is also available as static maps through a memorandum of understanding Limage Media Group has with the City of Vancouver.

Each week LMG collates and reconciles data to develop the static maps and keep the digital map up to date. The Static Maps are now available in five languages (Punjabi, Chinese, Filipino, Vietnamese and English) to cater to the diverse demographics within Vancouver and beyond while providing printable maps for NGO’S and NPO’S to provide to those who have no access to the internet.

The map provides an up-to-date source of info for people who need free/low-cost meals while reducing the number of individual requests for status updates that meal providers are currently receiving (as requests for info can be directed to the map), and to Inform community-led and City-led emergency responses to food security concerns.


Through these efforts, Give + Share has been developed and inspired through my personal experiences with poverty and homelessness when she exited out of the child welfare system as a young adult. 

Give + Share was created to help mitigate risks during and after an urban humanitarian crisis.

Give + Share helps to unify and manage the flow of data and updates of free to low-cost meals, shelter and other community resources all in one location. Give + Share is free and easy to use with downloadable tutorials on humanitarian best practices & governance tools for NGO and NPO frontline workers.

Give + Share provides frontline workers and organizations free templates to adopt humanitarian best practices as well as free downloadable static maps & resources for internal and external distribution to provide tools for those who may not have access to the internet.

2. What has been your biggest challenge that you faced and how did you overcome that?

My biggest challenge has been to learn to accept that it is perfectly fine to be different in business and in life. To create space where space does not exist even when it makes others uncomfortable because your existence makes them question their own belief systems.

Overcoming patriarchy, systemic oppression and also picking myself up when there is no one there to catch me or motivate me.

Everyone wants to be your friend when you are doing well but when you are broken-hearted, lacking resources and in need that is when you need to decide, are you the type of person who gives up or are you the type of person who will keep fighting no matter what, I choose to keep fighting. 

3. What do you think are the most important qualities of a successful entrepreneur?

I feel the most important qualities would be to ensure you are a healthy person, by that I mean mentally, physically and emotionally, if you are not taking care of yourself you are no use to anyone. Making sure you have support, mentorship, exercise, healthy food and healthy outlets are very important.

It is very easy to become isolated when you are an entrepreneur, to work in a silo as you build. I find as I get older I have found a better balance as the details that once overwhelmed me now are just part of my governance structure and are as natural as making myself a coffee.

However, self-awareness, healing and personal growth never stop and I feel my most useful quality is my ability to remain self-aware and try to improve myself on an ongoing basis. 

4. What are some of the most important factors for running a successful business? 

Most people define success based on revenue, I base success on how many lives have been changed & how much social impact has taken place as a result of my actions.

Newton's third law is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The statement means that in every interaction, there is a pair of forces acting on the two interacting objects. The size of the forces on the first object equals the size of the force on the second object.

You can not go about business or life putting "seeds" or "actions" out that you do not expect to have a similar result or action to, by that I mean we reap what we sow, plant seeds of inequality and injustice eventually there will be a consequence.

Choose to develop a fair governance structure for your business and be socially responsible with what you have been given. 

5. What are your tips for the first time and aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Be patient, be kind, listen, never stop learning, seek out like-minded people, do not set your eyes on the money, set your eyes on finding solutions to complex problems. Collaborate, share, work smart, do your research and operate within the laws of the land, do not cut corners, there are no shortcuts to success, success is relative.

Here is a scenario, you are rich, you have millions, suddenly there is a terrible natural disaster due to climate change in your city, your house is destroyed, you are trapped and surrounded by others who are not wealthy, you can't buy yourself out of the situation, you need to wait for help, you have no real survival skills as you paid for everything and paid people to do it for you, then a homeless man comes along, the same man who was living outside your office whom you ignored each day as you were too busy to care about him and figured what's the point to care there are hundreds more like him all over the city, you can't possibly help them all.

This man you walked by turns out to be the one who then helps you to survive until help comes, he builds you a tent, finds you food and keeps you safe.

My tip, never assume someone is beyond help, never assume someone is not employable, never assume someone has no value, we are all humans, we all bleed red, we all have a purpose on this earth.

6. How can one overcome a hurdle of lack of funds when starting up?

Use creativity, by that I mean take on side jobs, use your own money, live modestly to build your vision.

Do not take on debt or give up too many shares/equity in your company to try to fast track, slow and steady wins the race, we live in a world of instant gratification, we need to remember it takes time to build and when your territory increases before your character has a chance to develop it can be a recipe for failure, taking your time being patient and waiting for the right doors to open are good techniques to practice, which today are counter-culture but I challenge and implore you to practice this.

Do not put the horse before the cart, be patient, be yourself, give and it will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together and running over, love the ones in front of you, share what you have and you will see an increase. 

Stephanie Limage (Multi-Award-Winning Social Entrepreneur, G20 YEA Canadian Delegate, Founder & CEO Limage Media Group)

Interviewed By Pratibha Sahani