Manjit Basi honoured with spark Ignite Award

The first-ever spark Ignite Award will be presented to our very own Synapcity co-founder and ED, Manjit Basi.

This month, the first-ever spark Ignite Award will be presented to Ottawa philanthropist, businesswoman and community builder, Manjit Basi.

The annual award recognizes a woman who has made a significant impact in Ottawa in the areas of leadership, philanthropic giving, advocacy, and volunteerism. It will be presented at spark’s November 15 cocktail event, celebrating the power of extraordinary women making a difference in Ottawa.

Who is Manjit Basi?

Manjit says she grew up in a “blue collar immigrant family with a culture of hard work and generosity.” Inspired by her mother’s openness and kindness to strangers, Manjit’s passion for social justice began early on in her career.

As the owner of four Ottawa locations of The Body Shop from 1987-2008, Manjit felt it was important to offer employee volunteer opportunities, encouraging them to bring forward the community issues they care about, as well as an action plan for how they want to make a difference.

An early advocate of giving employees paid time off to volunteer, Manjit enabled staff to volunteer in many ways including tutoring at Operation Come Home, hosting body image workshops to help empower young women, raising awareness to end violence against women, and fundraising to send survivors of violence to recovery programs. Her shops became meeting places for the community to come together to discuss important social issues and spark local initiatives.

If you offer people an opportunity to be a part of something that’s bigger than themselves, they thrive, are more engaged, and feel connected to work and community,” she says.

Today, as co-founder and Director of Synapcity, a citizen engagement non-profit in Ottawa, Manjit leads workshops and events on community development and city building. She has contributed as a board member to many organizations including the Community Foundation of Ottawa, Immigrant Women Services, and the Rideau-Rockcliffe Community Health Centre. She also hosted a Rogers TV series called Trailblazers. Manjit is currently on the Telus Community Board and a founding member of Women for Mental Health.

“In her work, Manjit emphasizes the importance of collective potential and collaboration to make a lasting, local impact,” says Jane Bachynski, spark Chair. “At spark, our mission is to bring women together to build strong communities and initiate change – something that Manjit has been doing for more than 20 years. This is why we’re so pleased to honour her with the first-ever Ignite award, and look forward to celebrating the power of women driving change in our community on November 15th.”

What is spark?

Through spark, women collectively invest their donations into the sparkFund. They then allocate Community Action Grants for resident-led, grassroots initiatives serving Ottawa’s priority neighbourhoods. Members learn the needs of the community, assess and score proposals, and vote collectively on projects to support.

Manjit says she is thrilled to receive the spark Ignite Award because she is driven by the same values as spark; collaborative change and empowering women.

“Everyone wants to contribute,” she says. “It’s magic when people realize how we can all be catalysts for change right here in our own community.”

The United Way Spark Cocktail Event is happening on November 15, 2016 at Play Food & Wine (1 York Stret) from 5:30 – 7:30 pm. Tickets are $50 and are available here

*This blog post was originally published in