Female entrepreneurs in the community received a $1.9 million boost Thursday.
Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield announced a $1,879,983 fund for Innovation Guelph to support female entrepreneurs, part of the government's first-ever Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy, a $2 billion investment that aims to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025 nation-wide.
Innovation Guelph has a successful history of helping female business owners through their Rhyze Project which were originally initiated to allow women the opportunity to build financial capital, business skills, peer networks and confidence.
Now with the help of this fund and together with its partners Business Centre Guelph - Wellington, Greenhouse of St. Paul’s College, University of Waterloo and the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre, Innovation Guelph is developing the Rhyze programming to support women in their different ventures that includes local start-ups, social enterprises and innovation-driven, scalable companies
“It's actually going to empower Innovation Guelph to extend our reach through our partnerships,” said communications officer, Janet Wakutz.
"We’re also able to offer something that we couldn't before so were kind of taking the best of all our previous programs and rolling it into this one."
Wakutz said Innovation Guelph will now be able to include an academy with in-classroom sessions for women to work on leadership and business skills with the presence of mentors to help them accelerate their businesses and pitch for funds.
“It's kind of the whole gamut that we've never been able to present in one package before," said Wakutz.
Longfield said that even though Guelph is fortunate that it has a low unemployment rate, it needs to work together to build a community to weather out any potential storms that may come its way and a part of doing that is including people in the community from all walks of life to make sure the community can share the best ideas.
“Women still face unique barriers. We're looking at how do we improve access to capital, supply chains, export programs compared to men and we need to look at even the businesses that are starting to make sure that you have access to research and access to the talent that you need to support you,” said Longfield.
Longfield said when you look at the funding and pitching statistics, 68 per cent of the time, male entrepreneurs are successful in their pitches, whereas female entrepreneurs are successful only 32 per cent of the time and that shows that we still have ways to go in terms of credibility and acceptance.
He said that Innovation Guelph has come a long way since its inception as the Guelph Partnership of Innovation which focused on agriculture innovation and became Innovation Guelph overtime with an expanded mandate to focus on all sorts of innovation.
“As soon as you come in through the door, you hear a buzz and that's what I love about Innovation Guelph- bringing people together to share ideas, to share dreams, smiles,” said Longfield.
“Women are now running Innovation Guelph which is just fantastic.”