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Southern Ontario Spotlight - March 2021

Southern Ontario Spotlight

In support of International Women’s Day on March 8, this issue of the Southern Ontario Spotlight recognizes the growing number of achievements by women leaders in southern Ontario, along with highlighting important resources and supports available to women entrepreneurs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

FEDDEV ONTARIO’S FOCUS ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

MARCH 2021

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ISSUES ARCHIVE
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Making Headlines

Empowering women entrepreneurs in Canada

Empowering women entrepreneurs in Canada

The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the challenges women face in Canada’s job market, such as access to financing and networks, and other economic and labour market barriers. The result is being referred to as a she-cession, with decades of progress at risk of being lost, and women’s participation in the workforce at its lowest rate in 30 years. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting, empowering and lifting up women entrepreneurs, and is focusing on working toward a successful she-covery.

On March 4, the Northumberland CFDC, with collaboration across the southern Ontario Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund network, hosted the StrikeUP digital conference for women entrepreneurs. The conference featured more than 20 industry-leading expert speakers and mentors from across Canada, covering a wide range of topics with a focus on inspiring and empowering women to grow, develop and accelerate their businesses. Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng delivered opening remarks where she announced the recipients of $3.9 million in top-up funding from FedDev Ontario for 14 Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund projects in southern Ontario, as well as the recipients of almost $1 million for two FedNor projects in Northern Ontario. The investments support women entrepreneurs through coaching, mentorship and networking opportunities as they continue to navigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and strive to grow their businesses.

Minister Ng later joined Wendy Curtis, Executive Director of Northumberland CFDC, to reiterate their shared commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs.

“Partnerships like this are a direct reflection of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy in action—providing full access to an ecosystem across financing, networks, expertise and talent. We would like to thank the Government of Canada for its support to bring the StrikeUP Conference to fruition and the continued focus on women’s economic empowerment.” - Wendy Curtis, Executive Director, Northumberland CFDC and StrikeUP 2021 Founder

The conference proved to be a resounding success, with more than 3,000 attendees from 17 countries and over 5,000 referrals to support programs within the WES ecosystem. Plans for next year’s conference are already underway. Access to the full slate of StrikeUP events and recordings is available by visiting strikeup.ca.

Celebrating southern Ontario’s women entrepreneurs

Celebrating southern Ontario’s women entrepreneurs

This month, to mark International Women’s Day, Minister Joly, Minister McKenna and Parliamentary Secretary (PS) Kate Young took part in three events in the region. At a virtual event hosted by Community Futures Middlesex, PS Young delivered closing remarks highlighting key federal support for women entrepreneurs in Canada. The event featured a panel of local business owners who have shown exceptional resilience during difficult times, as well as guest speakers from the healthcare and technology sectors. PS Young acknowledged the disproportionate pressures and responsibilities women have faced throughout the pandemic, and highlighted the ongoing importance of Canada’s investment in the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) and the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), with its aim to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025. Register here for access to a recording of the event.

Also on International Women’s Day, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna joined the Digital Main Street (DMS) Bounce Back Better workshop, hosted by Invest Ottawa as part of its International Womxn’s Week celebration. She congratulated Invest Ottawa on its impactful supports to businesses through DMS, including over 6,500 women-owned and -led businesses receiving support through the program to date. In June 2020, FedDev Ontario invested $42.5 million in the DMS platform to help over 22,000 businesses enhance their online presence and develop their e-commerce capabilities.

On March 6, la Fondation Franco-Ontarienne (FFO) hosted La soirée saphir, an evening focused on celebrating women leaders in Francophone communities. The event featured guests from diverse backgrounds as well as a panel discussion on women’s leadership in politics. Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages Mélanie Joly provided welcoming remarks via video, speaking about her experience as a Francophone woman, as well as highlighting the importance of government support for women in Francophone communities and renewing the Official Languages Act. In 2019, FedDev Ontario provided FFO $350,000 to deliver a micro-loan pool providing loans of up to $15,000 to more than 50 Francophone women entrepreneurs.

Toronto Region Board of Trade announces new Digital Blueprint Program cohort

Toronto Region Board of Trade announces new Digital Blueprint Program cohort

The Toronto Region Board of Trade (TRBOT) announced its first Digital Blueprint Program cohort comprised entirely of women entrepreneurs. The program offers virtual mentorship, coaching, and workshops with industry experts over six weeks that are designed to help entrepreneurs build a personalized Digital Transformation Blueprint to support their businesses’ digital growth and success. Parliamentary Secretary Kate Young joined the virtual launch of the cohort on February 9, and congratulated Recovery Activation Program (RAP) participants. FedDev Ontario provided a $7.5-million investment for the Toronto Region Board of Trade to deliver RAP, which helps businesses to digitize their operations to build resilience. Since its launch, over 55 percent of RAP participants have been women-owned or -led businesses.

Supporting women in advanced manufacturing and digital technology

Supporting women in advanced manufacturing and digital technology

In line with the Government of Canada’s commitment to a she-covery, a FedDev Ontario investment of $6.5 million for the Hamilton Young Women’s Christian Foundation (YWCA Hamilton) is helping more than 500 women to develop new, in-demand skills and aid their transition into high-skill jobs in sectors where women are traditionally underrepresented, particularly in the advanced manufacturing and specialized technology sectors.

The Hamilton YWCA also held its annual Women of Distinction awards on March 4, with a reimagined focus on women who have shown courage and resilience throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Dubbed “The Courage of COVID,” the event honoured women with awards in the following categories: Frontline Workers, Innovators, Advocates, Change-Makers, Young Trailblazers and Everyday Heroes.  Ninety-seven extraordinary women from diverse backgrounds were nominated for this year’s awards, demonstrating the inspiring and crucial contributions these leaders have made to Canada’s recovery efforts.

To view a list of 2021’s Courage of COVID winners, visit Hamilton YWCA’s website.

Supporting women entrepreneurs to Rebuild, Reopen and Revive

Supporting women entrepreneurs to Rebuild, Reopen and Revive

Recognizing the substantial challenges that COVID-19 has presented, particularly for women entrepreneurs who face existing barriers to starting and growing their businesses, FedDev Ontario invested $4 million for the Northumberland CFDC and WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation, in collaboration with regional partners, to deliver the Rebuild Reopen Revive (RE3) Initiative in July 2020.

Between the delivery partners, over 700 women-led businesses have been supported through RE3 with non-repayable contributions of up to $5,000 to help with key re-opening expenditures, including acquiring PPE, reconfiguring workplaces to accommodate social distancing, and enhancing their online capacity.

“The changes made in the store have re-energized staff and clients. The past year has been very difficult and the changes this funding allowed us to do have provided us with hope and inspiration.” - Amanda Adamcryck, Revolution Skateboard Shop (Retail), Brockville, Ontario, Northumberland CFDC RE3 Recipient

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FEDDEV ONTARIO RECIPIENT NEWS AND UPDATES

Communitech’s Fierce Founders Uplift program announces first participants
Communitech’s Fierce Founders Uplift program announces first participants

Communitech’s Fierce Founders Uplift program announces first participants

On February 18, Communitech announced the 10 female founders chosen to participate in its Fierce Founders Uplift program, an initiative supported by FedDev Ontario to help women-identifying and non-binary entrepreneurs from underrepresented and minority groups grow their businesses. Participants receive $10,000 in funding along with tailored professional growth coaching from a wide range of industry leaders.

“In Canada, we know that our strength lies in our diversity. The Government of Canada is committed to reducing systemic inequities for all, including entrepreneurs, and is proud to support the mission of Fierce Founders Uplift to actively create opportunities for underrepresented communities.” – The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minster of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario.

"Being a woman in tech isn't easy. Being a woman in tech from an underrepresented or minority group is harder,” said Lisa Cashmore, Vice President, Start and Scale, Communitech. “Every time you add another level of underrepresentation, there are even more barriers founders from these groups need to overcome. Communitech's Fierce Founders Uplift is focused on helping those founders catch up to other women in tech and begin to level the playing field."

Through its Fierce Founders program, Communitech is helping women founders start and scale their businesses with support from growth coaches, customized programming and access to a large network of entrepreneurs and experts. For more information on Fierce Founders Uplift and Communitech’s Fierce Founders series of programs, visit the website.

Women-led ice cream producer scoops up success
Women-led ice cream producer scoops up success

Sisters Kelly Heleniak, Kim McCutchen and Kristine Hayes, co-owners of Shaw’s Ice Cream Ltd., standing outside their iconic Dairy Bar in St. Thomas, Ontario

Women-led ice cream producer scoops up success

St. Thomas Ontario-based Shaw’s Ice Cream is a model of southern Ontario success. Having scooped Shaw’s Ice Cream at their family-owned shop as kids, when three sisters heard the iconic Shaw’s Ice Cream plant was on the brink of closing in 2001, they purchased it. Like true entrepreneurs, the sisters wore multiple hats, handling accounting, sales, store operations, logistics and delivery. Their determination and perseverance over the years has paid off and reinvigorated Shaw’s Ice Cream by introducing private labelling services, expanding their wholesale distribution area, and renovating their iconic Dairy Bar.

Shaw’s Ice Cream recently added a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in nearby Tillsonburg while maintaining the company’s tradition of using quality ingredients and 100 percent Canadian dairy. A FedDev Ontario investment through the Women Entrepreneurship Fund helped the sisters sustain their momentum, allowing the company to hire new staff, launch new products and set up an Innovation Lab for product development.

Learn more about the company’s journey by reading our new pivotal project profile.

Bridgit announces launch of innovative new application
Bridgit announces launch of innovative new application

Bridgit co-founders Mallorie Brodie and Lauren Lake

Bridgit announces launch of innovative new application

Women-led construction technology leader Bridgit recently announced the launch of Bridgit Sync, its new workflow automation solution that will give contractors the ability to keep powerful technology solutions in sync by automating work such as day-to-day administration tasks, personnel changes, and project and resource management. With this connected and secure solution, construction companies can build in efficiencies, gain new insights into their business, and focus on other important work.

For more information on Bridgit, a FedDev Ontario funding recipient, read our pivotal project profile.

Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing releases report on gender diversity
Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing releases report on gender diversity

Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing releases report on gender diversity

FedDev Ontario funding recipient Trillium Network for Advanced Manufacturing, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of Ontario's advanced manufacturing ecosystem, recently released a detailed report on gender diversity that included case studies on five leading Ontario manufacturers with positive track records of diversity. The report found that companies with a dedicated focus on diversity and inclusion see a wide range of benefits to employees’ families, their communities, as well as overall talent attraction and retention.

The report also found that improving gender diversity is a direct result of conscious and intentional efforts made by company leaders, and does not happen by accident. 

Congratulations to all named, including FedDev Ontario funding recipient Sanofi Canada.

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LinkedIn Highlights

We are proud to join the Government of Canada’s #50_30Challenge to be part of meaningful change! Companies, organizations and not-for-profits across the country have joined the initiative to increase the representation and inclusion of under-represented groups in leadership positions. The challenge is rooted in two commitments: 1) Gender parity (50%) 2) Significant representation (30%) on boards and senior management.

This week we are celebrating the achievements of female leaders across #southON and the contributions of women to CA's #COVID19 efforts!

WEtech Alliance has found over 10 local, regional, national and international ways to get started!

Visit our Stathletes, Deep Trekker Inc., Bridgit, Think Dirty®, Shaw’s Ice Cream and Sheen Legend Packaging Co. success stories to learn more.

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Upcoming Events

Event September 12

March 8

Live Panel Discussion Featuring Four Strong Indigenous Entrepreneurs (Online)

Celebrate #IWD2021 on March 8 from 12-1:30 PM by joining Laurier’s Women Entrepreneurship Centre and the Office of Indigenous Initiatives in a panel discussion with four talented Indigenous entrepreneurs moderated by Tabatha Bull.

Event September 12

March 8-9

Canada’s Feminist Response and Recovery Summit (Online)

The Summit features an exciting program bringing together experts and community leaders with lived experience to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of women of all ages across the country, including women with disabilities and those from Indigenous, Black, racialized, LGBTQ2, and immigrant and newcomer communities.

Event September 12

March 8-12

Women in Manufacturing Success Forum (Online)

CME’s Women in Manufacturing Success Forum brings together more than 200 industry representatives and stakeholders to help define strategies to support and increase the number of women in manufacturing.

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