Innovative Entrepreneur | Humanitarian
Frank O’Dea’s story of triumph over adversity in business and in his personal life inspires audiences around the world. Against all odds, O’Dea went from being a homeless panhandler to a successful entrepreneur and a founder of The Second Cup chain of coffee stores. From there, he went on further to launch a number of other innovative and successful businesses and international not-for-profit organizations. O’Dea’s powerful message inspires audiences to hope for a better future and learn from his example.
As a young man, O’Dea was a homeless person who lived on the streets. At the age of 23, he began fighting back and overcoming the barriers that had been closed to him. Within a few years, he co-founded The Second Cup, and later went on to co-found Proshred Security and Samaritan Air Ambulance Services.
In the not-for-profit arena, O’Dea was also successful as the co-founder of Street Kids International, an organization developed to help homeless children in third world countries, and the Landmine Foundation, an organization that raises funds for the dismantling of minefields around the world. Together with the United Nations and world figures such as Colin Powell and Sir Paul McCartney, he led an international fundraising event, “Night of A Thousand Dinners,” that was taken up in 29 countries around the world.
Among his many honours, O’Dea is an Officer of the Order of Canada and holds honorary degrees from two universities. He is also the author of two books: his memoir, When All You Have is Hope, and Do The Next Right Thing.
In addition to currently leading two social enterprises, Frank is Chair of “My Idea of Canada”. In celebration of Canada’s 150 Anniversary, “My Idea of Canada” is a multi-million dollar national initiative by the Governor General and the Order of Canada to get young people energized and involved in the future of Canada.