About the EMWE Project
From April 2019 to March 2023, WeBC undertook the “Enhancing the Mosaic of Women Entrepreneurs” (EMWE) project. The objective of this project was to improve access to mentoring, training and resources throughout BC for under-represented segments, specifically:
- Geographic – Rural women entrepreneurs outside of Vancouver and Victoria
- Sectoral – Diverse suppliers and exporters
- Demographic – Indigenous, immigrant and rural women entrepreneurs
While the project was launched prior to 2020, this expanded reach proved critical during the pandemic, as we were able to offer proactive support to women-owned businesses who were impacted by Covid-19.
- 2019: WeBC (Women’s Enterprise Centre at the time) receives funding from the Government of Canada’s “Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund.”
- Fall 2019: EMWE-Funded programming begins and Regional Ambassadors are onboarded.
- March 2020: COVID-19 reaches BC and businesses across the province are shut down or operate under restrictions.
- 2020 to 2021: We provide critical support to pandemic-impacted businesses.
- 2021: WES allocates additional program funding to WeBC aimed at aiding women entrepreneurs in overcoming the challenges resulting from the pandemic.
- 2021 to 2023: WeBC onboards additional team members and Ambassadors to deliver unprecedented service levels.
The EMWE Project included the expansion our business advisory services, mentoring programs, and skills development offerings at a time when small businesses were most impacted by the pandemic. Thanks to this expansion, we were able to provide critical and responsive support to new and existing businesses throughout BC.
In addition to expanded programming, we created two reports to advance the lending ecosystem and engaged in a promotional campaign to increase the profile of women entrepreneurs.
services provided, exceeding our targets by 614%
women in rural communities supported with mentoring, advice and resources
women supported who identify as Youth, Immigrant, Indigenous or Persons with a Disability
Achievement of TargetsThe project achieved remarkable success, surpassing all targets by a substantial margin. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic generated unprecedented demand for services from women entrepreneurs, many of whom were seeking emergency funding and guidance to navigate the uncertainty. We provided:
- 5,305 growth services
- 2,918 startup services
- 1,231 exporting services
Outreach and PartnershipsThe EMWE project provided support for a new outreach program, including the onboarding of Regional Ambassadors (RAs) in each region of the province. The RAs are established women entrepreneurs who have strong ties to their community and help to raise awareness of our programs by leveraging their substantial community networks. This has created new opportunities for the entrepreneurial community to connect, and opened new doors for collaboration with Chambers, Community Futures and women’s groups. In 2021, we also launched a marketing campaign titled "Women Entrepreneurs Re-Igniting the Economy" to highlight the role of women-owned businesses in economic recovery. This approach allowed us to:
- provide support to 8,818 women in rural areas
- establish 49 partnerships with 39 unique organizations to deliver 70 training sessions
- reach over 140 unique communities each year with training
- connect women in over 55 communities each year with mentoring
- deliver over 44,000 online resources to small business owners
Tracking and Focus on IntersectionalityFor this project, we focused on ensuring diverse entrepreneurs were being supported. We gathered demographic information to understand and address specific hurdles faced by women who identify as Indigenous, immigrant, rural, youth and persons with a disability in order to provide targeted support. Such an approach not only fosters inclusivity but also drives equitable access to resources, networks, and opportunities during economic recovery. We provided support to:
- 4,199 Immigrant women
- 1,897 Youth
- 1,067 Indigenous women
- 674 Persons with a disability
Evergreen Content, Research, Updated Systems and RebrandTo create enduring effects through the funding, the EMWE project encompassed several initiatives aimed to create new programs to address women's needs, inform decision-making through research, improve our brand awareness, expand our reach and upgrade our technology to create operational efficiencies. This funding allowed us to:
- Develop 6 new workshop series on the topics of HR, exporting, financial fitness, resiliency, and business planning for Indigenous and Immigrant women
- Update 6 learning and resource guides on starting and growing a business, managing financials and marketing
- Conduct two surveys with women entrepreneurs to learn how the ecosystem can finance and support their business growth and recovery
- Complete a rebrand and develop a new website
- Upgrade our loan administration software and client database
Honoured with an Inclusive Growth AwardIn October 2023, WeBC was honoured with an Inclusive Growth Award from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce! The Canadian Chamber of Commerce Inclusive Growth Awards selected WeBC as an outstanding organization for its exceptional efforts in promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. "Inclusion isn't just a buzzword,” said Diana Palmerin-Velasco, Senior Director, Future of Work at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “It's a cornerstone of a resilient and thriving business landscape. We're proud to recognize these exceptional organizations and entrepreneurs who are leading the way in creating a Canada where everyone has a chance to succeed.”
Regional Ambassador Program
The EMWE project propelled our focus on rural areas, including Vancouver Island, the Kootenays, and Northern regions of BC. To foster our relationships around the province, we onboarded Regional Ambassadors, all women entrepreneurs themselves who went out into their communities to engage with women entrepreneurs and ecosystem partners.
Our EMWE Project Regional Ambassadors and Entrepreneurs in Residence included:
- Pauline Stevenson, President & Founder, Excel Career College, Courtenay
- Brianne McDaniel, Owner, Far & Wide, Kamloops
- Cheryll Wagner, Prince George
- Tara Black, Owner, Origin Bakery, Victoria
- Neasa Maguire, Owner, Infoflips, Vancouver (Supplier Diversity Lead)
- Bobbi Carpino, Co-Owner, Salmon Valley Campground, Prince George
- Jill Barclay, Owner, Goldstar Cleaning Services, Fernie
- Janice Shaben, Owner (Retired), Silvertip Promotions, Terrace
- Shannan Schimmelmann, Prep Academy Tutors, Kelowna (Indigenous Women Lead)
- Manpreet Dhillon, Owner, VEZA, Vancouver (Immigrant Women Lead)
Thanks to continued funding from the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy in 2023, WeBC is able to continue this program beyond the end of the EMWE project with the addition of new Regional Ambassadors.