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Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, Riaz Sidi and Michael Crow of Photo by Ted Wagstaff

You don’t always need to hit a business milestone to throw a really good party.

That was the case on May 2, when digital marketing firm gathered its clients and local business leaders for an event dubbed “Cheers and Chats.”

There was no shortage of either at the Alora Restaurant and Bar on Clarence Street. The room was filled with notable business leaders representing more than 50 local companies and organisations.

Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe joined the festivities, along with city council colleagues, Mathew Luloff and Catherine Kitts.

The guest of honour was Riaz Sidi, founder of and Forty Under 40 recipient from 2022. has also ranked on OBJ’s Fastest Growing Companies list for three consecutive years.

OBJ publisher Michael Curran, who shares a TEC Canada peer mentorship group with Sidi, kicked off the speeches.

It was a full house at Alora Restaurant and Bar for Cheers and Chats on May 2. Photo by Ted Wagstaff

“Riaz was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth,” said Curran. “He grew up in a family of hard working entrepreneurs. His parents ran a retail shop in the ByWard Market. Riaz started working there at a young age and developed a very strong work ethic. That has served him well.”

Sutcliffe was next to speak, recalling that he was a business coach to Sidi before the last municipal election. “It was really great to witness Riaz growing this business. What I saw over and over again was a commitment to taking it to the next level,” said Sutcliffe. “Every month Riaz was pushing the limits of what he was doing, trying to reinvent his business, while giving back and supporting the community.”

When Sidi took the stage for his keynote speech, he shared a personal story of resilience. Harkening back to 2010, Sidi told the audience he was broke, suffering from addiction and uncertain of his future.

With support from his family, Sidi conquered his demons and started down a path to business entrepreneurship.

“When you approach your life with a desire to destroy despair and create prosperity for those around you, you cannot lose,” says Sidi. “You will not lose.”

Sidi said he is determined to help others who are struggling in Ottawa.

“Today, we are supporting the reduction of youth homelessness in Ottawa. Who knows, the next Forty Under 40 could be sitting on the ground outside these doors right now,” Sidi said.

Local artist FALLDOWNG draws a mural
Local artist FALLDOWNG created a mural that was raffled off for the United Way of East Ontario. Photo by Ted Wagstaff

Guests were encouraged to make donations to the United Way of East Ontario. Local artist FALLDOWNG created a large mural that was raffled off to the highest bidder, Shelley Whitehorne.

The event raised money for the United Way of East Ontario to fight youth homelessness. Guests were encouraged to make donations. Local artist FALLDOWNG created a large mural that was raffled off to the highest bidder, Shelley Whitehorne.