Six exceptional entrepreneurs enter the Cercle des Grands entrepreneurs du Québec

Montreal, February 6, 2018

La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, National Bank and Desjardins Group announce the creation of the Cercle des Grands entrepreneurs du Québec to honour exceptional entrepreneurs who, through their achievements, commitments and ideals, contribute to entrepreneurship promotion and Québec’s economic development.

An evening tribute will be held to pay homage to their contributions to the dynamism of entrepreneurship in Québec and an interactive exhibition that highlights their respective journeys will travel across the province during the coming weeks.

During the tour, a public space devoted to Grands entrepreneurs du Québec will be erected to enable the honourees to continue to inspire future generations. Other Québec business owners that helped to build entrepreneurship in Québec will be honoured in future years.

The first edition of the Cercle des Grands entrepreneurs du Québec honours: 

- Alain Bouchard
- Aldo Bensadoun
- Lino Saputo
- Lise Watier
- Rémi Marcoux
- Serge Godin

By recognizing these entrepreneurs, the Cercle seeks to highlight role models in leadership, creativity, courage, perseverance and ambition.

“The Cercle was designed to offer inspirational models to a new generation of entrepreneurs,” said Michael Sabia, President and CEO of La Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. “A strong entrepreneurial culture is a key ingredient in creating a strong new generation that will build tomorrow’s businesses. It is thus important that we recognize those who have paved the way for Québec entrepreneurship and who incarnate the most inspiring aspects of entrepreneurial culture.”

A major entrepreneurial legacy
The 2018 Cercle honourees stand out by bringing their businesses to the top of their industries, as well as by making concrete gestures to share their knowledge and expertise with future entrepreneurs. Through the creation of specialized programs (entrePrism by Lino Saputo, S’Entreprendre by Lise Watier or The Rémi-Marcoux Entrepreneurial Course by Rémi Marcoux), the opening of a school (Bensadoun School of Retail Management, by Aldo Bensadoun) their role in mentoring (Alain Bouchard’s participation in the Adopte Inc. program and Serge Godin’s pushing for the development of intrapreneurial skills inside CGI), each has found a way to keep their vision alive and to offer youth the support and guidance they need to succeed.

“The six leaders being honoured have made significant contributions to developing our society. National Bank is proud to play a part in recognizing and sharing their outstanding achievements, in particular with the young business community. It’s important to foster knowledge transfer in order to develop the next generation of business owners—they’re essential for the vitality of our economy,” stated Louis Vachon, President and CEO of National Bank.

An exhibition for Quebecers
The Cercle des Grands entrepreneurs du Québec’s travelling exhibition invites the public to learn about the honourees’ histories. This rich, exclusive and interactive content will be displayed for free in cities throughout the province.

- Montreal – Central Station, February 12 to 16, 2018
- Sherbrooke – Centre Sportif, February 22 to 25, 2018
- Québec City – Place Ste-Foy, March 1 to 4, 2018
- Chicoutimi – Place du Royaume, March 8 to 12, 2018
- Drummondville – Centrexpo, March 15 to 18, 2018

“To build thriving communities across Quebec—both in rural areas and bustling city centres—we need thousands of new entrepreneurs,” said Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group. “We need start-ups and people to fill the shoes of retiring business owners. The six leaders being honoured serve as an inspiration to everyone who wishes to join their ranks.”

The honourees of the Cercle’s 2018 edition were chosen by a jury made up of entrepreneurs and members of the business communities of various regions and sectors.

- Michèle Boisvert, Executive Vice-President, Business Outreach, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (President of the jury)
- Stéphane Achard, Senior Vice-President, Commercial Banking, Canada and International, National Bank
- Jean-Yves Bourgeois, General Manager, Group Leader, Desjardins Capital Markets
- Dominique Brown, President and CEO, Chocolat Favoris
- Martin Deschênes, President, École d’entrepreneurship de Beauce and ex-President of Groupe Deschênes
- Jean-René Halde, corporate director and ex-President and CEO of the Business Development Bank of Canada
- Christiane Germain, co-President of Groupe Germain

About Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec
Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) is a long-term institutional investor that manages funds primarily for public and parapublic pension and insurance plans. As at June 30, 2017, it held $286.5 billion in net assets. As one of Canada's leading institutional fund managers, CDPQ invests globally in major financial markets, private equity, infrastructure, real estate and private debt. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @LaCDPQ or consult our Facebook or LinkedIn pages.

About National Bank of Canada 
With $246 billion in assets as at October 31, 2017, National Bank of Canada, together with its subsidiaries, forms one of Canada's leading integrated financial groups.  It has more than 21,000 employees in knowledge-intensive positions and has been recognized numerous times as a top employer and for its commitment to diversity.  Its securities are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: NA).  Follow the Bank’s activities at or via social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

About Desjardins Group
Desjardins Group is the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and the sixth largest cooperative financial group in the world, with assets of $276.3 billion. It has been rated one of the Best Employers in Canada by Aon Hewitt. To meet the diverse needs of its members and clients, Desjardins offers a full range of products and services to individuals and businesses through its extensive distribution network, online platforms and subsidiaries across Canada. Counted among the World’s Strongest Banks according to The Banker magazine, Desjardins has one of the highest capital ratios and credit ratings in the industry.

For more information:
Senior Manager, Public Affairs
National Bank
Marie-Pierre Jodoin
Conseillère senior, Affaires publiques et Responsabilité sociale d’entreprise
Banque Nationale du Canada