Social impact entrepreneur
Native country: Mexico
In a world where many people bank quickly and easily online, Canada’s temporary farm workers have been left behind. When René Blanco looked at the problem, he saw an opportunity to start a business helping them save time and money. The result was LABORA, a social impact FinTech that provides digital payroll transfers.
Blanco, founder and CEO of LABORA, landed in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2017 to study an Executive MBA program at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University. Previously, Blanco worked in Mexican agencies to provide 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 demonstrated due diligence in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) payment process, aged 50, and LABORA was born.
LABORA’s mission is to improve the Canadian agricultural sector by helping farm owners pay their farm workers safely and efficiently and benefit from the streamlined money transfer process from Canada. Further simplifying the administrative process, the LABORA platform helps farmers complete their tax returns and provides online services to keep their information secure (pay stubs, TD1, T4, Certifications, NOA and RE) up to date.
This year, the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC selected the LABORA project for funding. Additionally, the business 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 measures of the United Nations SDGs.
LABORA has won numerous accolades, including the 2019 Idea Prize at the SFU-Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize, 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 the Top 100 Recovery Projects in Canada. The company was also included in the list of emerging agrifood products in the Ready to Rocket program in 2020 and 2021. This year, LABORA won the Top Venture 2021 award at the SFU-Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize competition.