Meet the 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award for Lifetime Achievement recipient
Learn more about Moses (Moe) B. Levy’s journey from student to entrepreneurial visionary
Throughout his life, Moses (Moe) B. Levy [BComm(Hons)/73, MBA/74] has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to produce outstanding initiatives that have transformed the world. Over the course of his career, he has had an extraordinary impact in the fields of entrepreneurship and human rights as well as in the Jewish community in Manitoba and Israel. Born in India, he moved to Winnipeg to study commerce at the University of Manitoba and graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree (Honours) in 1973 and again a year later with a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree.
“I always wanted a business degree and being here provided the right opportunity to me at the right time, and ever since then it’s basically been a love affair with UM,” he says.
From the time he was a student to becoming a lecturer and volunteer, Levy held a deep passion for developing entrepreneurship. He was on the cutting edge of entrepreneurial education at a time when this was a very new field, leading the creation of the Asper Centre for Entrepreneurship (now the Stu Clark Centre) at the Asper School of Business and serving as its first executive director. His passion for teaching and inspiring entrepreneurs has resulted in tens of thousands of students being exposed to this field and becoming equipped with the tools to fulfill their entrepreneurial goals. Taking what he learned from the Asper Centre for Entrepreneurship, Levy then established the Asper Hebrew University Innovation Program, which brings an entrepreneurial mindset to all faculties at the Hebrew University and a program in East Jerusalem focused on educating Arab women in entrepreneurship.
“I always had an inkling for entrepreneurship that I think came from my family background. There is also a strong sense of independence in that field,” he says. “I wanted to create the Centre for Entrepreneurship because it gives students the opportunity to think in a new way and gives them the skills they need to move their ideas forward.”
As the Executive Director with Enterprise Manitoba, he developed and managed one of Canada’s first business incubator initiatives. With his tenure with the Manitoba Department of Industry and Tourism he led the development of several groundbreaking programs for small business. An entrepreneur in his own right, Levy was the President and CEO of one of Canada’s largest mail order firms, The Canadian Heritage Co.
Through his leadership of The Asper Foundation, Levy has helped the Jewish community of Manitoba flourish in the areas of education, culture, poverty reduction and community development. He created a national student travel program in Holocaust and human rights education, which, over several years, took over 13,000 Canadian students through a special course in human rights education and ended in a trip to Washington, D.C. In Israel, he conceived and developed innovative international teacher educational programs in Holocaust education at Yad Vashem, developed several community centres aimed at serving at-risk youth and underserved families of Russian and Ethiopian immigrants, a community garden program and other initiatives that span the country.
“The Asper Foundation has an incredible presence in Winnipeg, and I’m happy to have been a part of the contributions to many organizations here,” he says. “It was also one of Izzy Asper’s [BA/53, LLB/57, LLB/64, LLD/98] mandates to do work in Israel and I had a real passion for that. I feel very lucky to do this work and take the idea of entrepreneurship and apply it to all these programs that we can help set up and then others can take forward.”
In 2000, Levy was tasked with developing the concept and business plan for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR). He took the mere idea of such a museum and delivered the reality. Working tirelessly as the Executive Director for 14 years on the initiative, he convinced the federal government to make the CMHR the first national museum outside of Ottawa with all operational costs provided by the federal government. Levy also established the fundraising arm, the Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and was tasked with raising $150 million from the private sector. He also launched an international architectural competition, established the content and exhibition design and oversaw community, donor, government and media relations.
“I’ve always looked for ways to help the community. I had certain expertise and certain skills that I wanted to use to create a lasting legacy for the next generation to create a better school of business at the University of Manitoba and the Hebrew University and create a better Winnipeg. Over the course of an evening, Izzy and I came up with the idea for the CMHR and it began the most remarkable journey anyone could have imagined. It made a real impact in Canada,” he says. “I am recently retired but I don’t think the word retired will ever live in my vocabulary. I want to continue to contribute and help build a better world.”
Despite never seeking the spotlight, Levy has been recognized extensively for his community work. He is a recipient of the Scopus Award for his work promoting humanitarian causes. He is also the recipient of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg’s illustrious Sol Kanee Medal for Distinguished Community Service, the Mahatma Gandhi Peace Award and the Community Champion Special Award by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. This year, Levy will receive the University of Manitoba Distinguished Alumni Award for Lifetime Achievement.
“I can’t even put into words how I feel about receiving this award,” he says. “I’ve been involved with the university and the community for so long, but when I got the call about this it made me realize that I actually did contribute to Winnipeg and do things that made a difference. I’m so happy I was able to spend my life this way, and I’m proud to have been able to give so much back to the university.”
The 2023 University of Manitoba Distinguished Alumni Awards Celebration of Excellence presented by TD Insurance will be held September 21, 2023. For more information about the event, or to purchase tickets, visit our website.