Social impact entrepreneur
Native country: Mexico
In a world where many people bank quickly and easily online, Canada’s temporary agricultural workers have been left behind. When Rene Blanco looked into the problem, he saw an opportunity to build a business by helping them save time and money. The result was LABORA, a social impact FinTech that provides digital payroll remittances.
Blanco, Founder and CEO of LABORA, landed in Vancouver, BC in 2017 to study an Executive MBA program at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business. Previously, Blanco worked in Mexican agencies providing infrastructure and services to rural communities.
In 2018, as an international EMBA student, he addressed a social issue among underserved temporary foreign workers. They have to pay high fees and benefit from low exchange rates to send their money home. As a landed immigrant to Canada, he did extensive due diligence on the 50-year-old Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) payment process, and LABORA was born.
LABORA’s mission is to improve the Canadian agricultural sector by helping farm owners pay their agricultural workers safely and efficiently and benefit from the simplified process of transferring money from Canada to their country of origin. Further simplifying the administrative process, the LABORA platform helps agricultural workers complete their tax returns and provides online services to keep their information secure (paystubs, TD1, T4, Certifications, NOA and RE) up to date.
This year, the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC selected LABORA’s project for funding. Additionally, venture is accelerated by Venture Connection, SFU’s flagship entrepreneurship program. LABORA has a positive impact on the financial conditions of the worker based on the United Nations SDG indicators.
LABORA has won numerous accolades, including the 2019 Idea Prize at the SFU-Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize competition, the Vancouver 2019 winner at the Startup World Championships in Montreal. In 2020, Blanco received the SFU Alumni Founder Award and Future of Good recognized LABORA as one of Canada’s Top 100 Recovery Projects. The company was also part of the Ready to Rocket program’s Emerging Rocket Agri-Food list in 2020 and 2021. This year, LABORA won the Top Venture 2021 award in the SFU-Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize competition.