Laurier to recieve $1.3 million to support women’s entrepreneurship

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Wilfrid Laurier University is set to receive $1.3 million of funding through FedDev Ontario as a part of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.

The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy is a $2 billion investment made by the Government of Canada with the purpose of advancing womens’ economic empowerment in hopes of doubling the number of female entrepreneurs by the year 2025.

The funding received by Laurier will be used to create initiatives and programs dedicated to supporting women entrepreneurs, including entrepreneurial boot camps and workshops on business building for Indigenous women .

“There will be a number of boot camps done annually for women entrepreneurs that will help them develop the kind of skills and knowledge and mentorship they need to create and grow their businesses,” said Micheál Kelly, dean of Laurier’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics. “There will be an Indigenous entrepreneurship initiative which will look at the particular challenges that indigenous women entrepreneurs face as they build their businesses.”

There will be different boot camps available, catering to both women in the early start-up stage of a business and women looking to grow their businesses. The programs will range from one to two-week-long intensive workshops to less intensive programs taking place over a six month or year-long time period. The programs will be tailored to suit the needs of female entrepreneurs and address the unique challenges they face as women in business.

One of the things we want to do with this program is to get more women mentors involved in helping with women entrepreneurs. I think there are many women who are interested in creating business but the support networks haven’t been there, the mentors haven’t been there and the support infrastructure hasn’t been there.

— Micheál Kelly, dean of Laurier’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics

“Women entrepreneurs face very different challenges than male entrepreneurs face,” said Kelly. “Those include things like access to capital, access to mentors [and] access to networks.”

The programs will provide support systems, resources and mentorship to women in the entrepreneurial world.

“One of the things we want to do with this program is to get more women mentors involved in helping with women entrepreneurs,” said Kelly. “I think there are many women who are interested in creating business but the support networks haven’t been there, the mentors haven’t been there and the support infrastructure hasn’t been there.”

The funding will be used to support female entrepreneurs in the non-tech business sector specifically, as female entrepreneurs in the tech sector already have a highly active support system through Communitech’s Fierce Founders program.

“Until now there has been nothing around here to support women entrepreneurs in non-tech businesses,” said Kelly. “It is important to extend entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial thinking and entrepreneurial engagement to other populations.”

The new programs will be run in affiliation with the Laurier’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics and the Schlegel Centre for Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation, a facility which helps members of the Laurier and Waterloo community work towards launching start-ups.

“I think this is a really interesting initiative and I think it allows us to build on all the experience we’ve had through the Schlegel Centre, the Lazaridis Institute and from the various faculty who have done research in this area to develop some really interesting programs for female entrepreneurs,” said Kelly.

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