Sadie Evans posted an articleVIATEC and partners to launch an accelerator program for women entrepreneurs in tech see more
VICTORIA, BC (December 12, 2019) - VIATEC is honoured to announce that it has, with partners, secured a $475,000 CAD investment from the Digital Technology Supercluster to pilot a Women’s Entrepreneurship Program.
The Women’s Entrepreneurship Program will be a dedicated set of three accelerator cohorts created by women, for women, to increase the support for and the presence of women founders in the rapidly growing tech-sector. The program intends to strengthen the capacity of organizations elevating women entrepreneurs by ensuring they have the business support they need to start or grow a business.
This collaborative project including Accelerate Okanagan, UVic’s Coast Capital Savings Innovation Centre, Purpose Five, and CDMN/Communitech, will see three cohorts of women entrepreneurs created; one in Kelowna and two in Victoria. If successful, this pilot project has the potential to evolve into a nation-wide offering.
"Typically, 10% or less of tech companies have a female founder. This pilot project is aimed directly at empowering women to build a program that works for them,” said VIATEC’s CEO, Dan Gunn. “It’s important that any program feels welcoming and supportive to entrepreneurs considering participating. It’s also vital that the participants feel a sense of belonging and identify with others in the program through shared perspectives. Most accelerator programs were developed by men and we’ve learned that those programs aren’t always the right fit for women entrepreneurs. We’re proud that we have been able to bring together this group of experienced partners with the funding needed to empower some of the trailblazing women in our communities to build a program that will better serve and support current and future women founders in tech.”
The VIATEC cohort will be helmed by Shelley Voyer as Program Manager. Voyer, currently an Executive in Residence for VIATEC’s Accelerator Program, will take on the Women’s Entrepreneurship Program.
“Throughout my career, I’ve witnessed the unique challenges women in business face - especially when launching and scaling their own company. I felt this first hand when I launched my tech start-up”, said Voyer. “While the rigours of growing a successful business aren’t unique to women, the support they need is. I’m thrilled to be a part of this essential initiative to provide an environment where women can thrive and ultimately strengthen our community for everyone.”
"Tech has been the #1 industry in our region for over a decade and it’s well on its way to $10 billion in annual revenues,” continued Gunn. “However, there is plenty of evidence that women continue to be underrepresented in the sector and leadership roles in particular. In order for our companies and communities to reach their full potential, we need to take steps to engage, involve and empower more women which will both make our companies stronger and also help address the talent crunch. Supporting women to build an accelerator program that works for them is a step in that direction and I expect that not only will this assist women entrepreneurs, but it will help evolve accelerator models in general."
The Women’s Entrepreneurship Program aligns with VIATEC’s values and current focus on developing new projects, programs, and partnerships aimed at supporting existing and future women leaders in the Greater Victoria tech sector. This project announcement comes on the heels of the VIATEC Foundation’s donation of $30,000 in funding towards the Gender Equity Fund and VIATEC’s sponsorship of HR Tech Group’s Diversity & Inclusion Tech Project.
VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council), started in 1989. Our mission is to serve as the one-stop hub that connects people, knowledge and resources to grow and promote the Greater Victoria technology sector (Technology is Victoria's #1 industry with a $4.06 Billion Annual Revenue, a $5.22 Billion Economic Impact and over 16,775 employees across 995 high-tech companies - and growing!)
The Digital Technology Supercluster consortium, led by Founding Members MDA, Microsoft, Telus and global leaders such as D-Wave Systems, LifeLabs, MDA, Teck Resources Limited, and TimberWest, and in collaboration with BC’s leading post-secondary institutions and non-profit organizations including Accelerate Okanagan, British Columbia Institute of Technology, BC Tech Association, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, VIATEC (Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council), and other Members including Finger Food Advanced Technology Group, LlamaZOO, and Terramera. (a full list of Members can be found here) aims to position Canada as a global leader in digital technologies and solve industry’s and society’s most challenging problems. The Supercluster co-invests in ambitious technology solutions to improve sustainability and competitiveness of our natural resources, healthcare and industrial sectors and energize the economy. By leveraging the strengths and diversity of small and large companies, research organizations and government agencies, our approach aims to deliver an impact with the speed and magnitude that no single organization could achieve on its own. The Supercluster manages the investments provided by the Government of Canada’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative and the public and private organizations which constitute its membership. www.digitalsupercluster.ca.
About the Capacity Building Program
The Capacity Building Program aims to develop a diverse pool of digital talent to ensure we have a workforce prepared for the jobs of tomorrow with a focus on improving the inclusion and participation of under-represented groups, including Indigenous Peoples and women.
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Collaboration and action can make this cultural movement a positive turning point for us all see more
Author: Erin Skillen
The Power of #MeToo
Collaboration and action can make this cultural movement a positive turning point for us all
I’ve been an entrepreneur for much of my career, first as a producer/co-owner of an independent TV production company and then as a tech- startup founder.
Most of the companies I have joined or founded were female-led businesses in male-dominated industries. I’m used to being the only woman in a group of men in a variety of professional contexts. I have learned to navigate those spaces and be comfortable within them while being conscious of having to keep myself safe.
I’ve faced my share of obnoxious moments in my career. Having a former mentor greet me at a professional event by loudly telling me how sexy I looked, and then asking everyone around us if they agreed with him. Meeting with an investor who had requested to learn more about my company, only to have him ask if I could host an open house for his condo because I had “the right look.” And even having someone offer to fund my career early on if I left my partner at the time and became his girlfriend instead.
These are pretty minor infractions compared to what other women have dealt with. I was never in danger. But the fact that these things happen regularly, that there is an accumulation of these inappropriate moments, is both infuriating and exhausting.
Her request for funding to scale up Victoria-based DeeBee’s Organics was “quashed without question.” see more
Source: Times Colonist / Canadian Press
Author: Armina Ligaya
Women seeking business loans face bigger barriers, study says
When Victoria’s Dionne Laslo-Baker sought a bank loan to expand her burgeoning organic popsicle and freezies business in 2014, she was shocked by the patronizing feedback she says she received from a male banker.
“One of them said not only that they couldn’t fund us, but, why am I bothering to do this?” she said. “I have a very successful husband, who makes a very good salary. ... Why are you kind of disrupting the peace?”’
She felt defeated.
Her request for funding to scale up Victoria-based DeeBee’s Organics was “quashed without question.” It was one of the first times she realized that women entrepreneurs face bigger barriers than their male counterparts.
And a lack of access to capital is one of the biggest challenges for women entrepreneurs, a new study suggests.
The wage gap between men and women has been long-standing — with women on average making 74 cents for every dollar of annual salary made by men, according to the most recent Statistics Canada data — but research by PayPal Canada and consulting firm Barraza and Associates suggests that this dynamic also applies to those who own small and medium-sized businesses as well.
Businesses owned by women generate an average of $68,000 less revenue than men who run similar businesses, representing a gap of 58 per cent, according to the online survey of 1,000 Canadian small and medium-sized businesses between Jan. 26 and Feb. 28.
The findings suggest that the median annual revenue for businesses owned by men across six different categories of firms ranging from manufacturing to services was $118,000, but $50,000 for those owned by women. Online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.
The gender revenue gap is slightly smaller for businesses operating online, at $55,000 or 44 per cent, compared to offline businesses that had a gap of $71,000 or 64 per cent, according to the survey.
One barrier to growth for women-owned businesses is access to capital, the survey suggested. Roughly 53 per cent of women-owned businesses with an e-commerce component said it was “easy” for their company to get business credit to grow their business, falling short of the 67 per cent of men who reported getting loans with ease, the survey found.
Becky Reuber, professor of strategic management at the Rotman Business School at the University of Toronto, cautions it’s difficult to compare businesses based on the gender of the owner, as there is some research that suggests that women tend to start businesses in sectors that have lower-growth rates, such as service-based businesses. For example, there are fewer women engineers and in turn fewer with the background to start high-tech businesses, which often see higher growth, she added.
Still, when you compare the performance of similar businesses owned by men and women, recent studies have shown that there is no difference, said Reuber.
That being said, there is a difference when it comes to seeking capital from investors, she said.
“There is evidence that some stereotypes play up in that. And women may have more difficulty getting high value investment,” she said. That is also what Laslo-Baker found. When she wanted to raise more funds in 2014 for DeeBee’s and met with some food industry players, one of which told her they would consider investing if she got a “man in here who could be the CEO and run this company.”
“I thought, ‘What? A man in here? I’ve already taken this product to Canada and parts of the United States. Is that nothing?’ ” Laslo-Baker said.
Despite these challenges, DeeBee’s has continued to expand. Its frozen treats are sold at major grocery chains such as Metro and Sobeys, and in every Canadian province and 20 states in the U.S. including California and New York.
The company has a commercial loan from Bank of Montreal, backed by Export Development Canada, and at DeeBee’s last capital raise, which closed in June 2018, the company’s valuation was $16 million, she said.
She believes attitudes are slowly changing, with more people expressing that her background as a mother and female entrepreneur is an asset not a drawback, she said. “As more women succeed, it’s going to pave the way.”
The federal government has made gender equality and increased workforce participation by women a priority. Among initiatives aimed at this goal in its latest budget, Ottawa has allocated $1.4 billion over three years from the Business Development Bank in new financing for female entrepreneurs and $105 million over five years to help the regional development agencies support women-led businesses.
Between $1,000 and $5,000 grants to help women entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses see more
Author: Amira Zubairi
Startup Canada and Evolocity Offering up to $5,000 Grants to Women-Led Businesses
Startup Canada, in partnership with Evolocity Financial Group, announced that it is offering micro-grants to women entrepreneurs and women-led companies in Canada through the Startup Canada Women Founders Fund.
The fund, which launched in August 2016, will provide between $1,000 and $5,000 grants to help women entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Women receiving the grants will also be featured on StartupNews.ca, receive a guest-spot on THRIVE Podcast for Women Entrepreneurs, and get a VIP Pass to Startup Canada Day on the Hill taking place in Ottawa on October 18.
To be eligible for a grant, applicants must be women entrepreneurs or women-led businesses. They must also be working in the STEM field and be based in Canada. Startup Canada said the applicants will be judged based on a number of criteria, including the applicant’s impact statement on the use of funds, a proven business model, and confirmation that the opportunity would be missed without the investment. The applicants must also agree to leverage the hashtag #StartupWomen and recognize sponsors throughout marketing efforts.
“Entrepreneurship is a catalyst for economic growth in many countries. Equally as important is the critical role that women play in the growth of an economy,” Startup Canada wrote in a post. “Startup Canada has partnered with Evolocity Financial Group to invest in women-led companies in STEM…providing micro-grants to women entrepreneurs and women-led companies in Canada to help them start and grow their businesses while accelerating gender parity and further unleash the economic potential of women.”
Past recipients of the fund include Eve Medical, which received funding through Ontario’s Health Technologies Fund in January 2018; and Awake Labs, which is using AI to care for brain and mental health disorders.
Those interested in the Startup Canada Women Founders Fund have until August 31 to apply.
Government is seeking third parties to launch and operate a “women entrepreneurship knowledge hub" see more
Author: Jessica Galang
Government Announces RFP to Compile Data on Women Entrepreneurs
During Montreal’s Startupfest, Minister of Small Business and Tourism Bardish Chagger announced that the government is accepting proposals from companies that could help it collect data on how best to support women entrepreneurs.
The government first announced its intention to collect “disaggregated data” on women entrepreneurs in Budget 2018, which had a large focus on women entrepreneurs. The budget earmarked $9.5 million over three years for proposals on collecting gender-based data on entrepreneurs.
Chagger expanded on its request for proposals during the event. The government is seeking third parties to launch and operate a “women entrepreneurship knowledge hub,” which will collect and compile information on women entrepreneurs and inform the development of support tools for women entrepreneurs. “This data will also help us establish best practices that women entrepreneurs can use to further their entrepreneurial journey in Canada.”
This year’s budget had a major focus on women entrepreneurs; $1.4 billion in loans over five years is being allocated to women entrepreneurs through BDC, with the overarching goal of doubling the number of women entrepreneurs by 2025. Chagger said that the four core pillars of it’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy include helping women-led businesses grow, increasing access to capital, improving participation in the innovation economy, and enhancing data on women entrepreneurs.
“This is a key area where data is missing and to better understand women entrepreneurs and to help them and support them, we need this data,” said Chagger.
The Minister made the announcement during one of BDC’s Women in Technology bootcamps, which works to foster business skills and financial literacy for women. The bank’s bootcamps were also part of the initial Budget 2018 announcement, and will take place across Canada.
The news is timely, as this morning Female Funders announced a new report on the state of venture capital with Hockeystick. The report drew on data from public sources like Crunchbase and data from angel and VC groups, finding that just 14 percent of Canadian VCs are women.
The deadline for proposals is September 7. More information is available on the government website here.