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July 5, 2016

PeerSpark Information Session in Vancouver PeerSpark Logo

Monday, July 11 | 11:30am - 1:30pm

By invitation only. If your business is growing and you’re looking for help and advice on how to accelerate that growth – contact: to discover if you qualify to apply. 

Connecting entrepreneurial women. Building Leadership. Accelerating success.

Join PeerSpark™ and accelerate your success:

Support your entrepreneurial spirit.
At PeerSpark™, female entrepreneurs support, encourage and share experience and expertise with each other as they expand their knowledge and take the next step in growing their businesses.

Enhance your skills.
Our participants learn from the best. At each meeting, experts will guide you through topics such as leadership, strategic planning, and market positioning, and help you apply what you learn to improve your own business.

Find strength in numbers.
We know entrepreneurs face the same obstacles, day in and day out. With PeerSpark™, you will learn and grow with peers, and confidently develop strategies to make the major decisions needed to grow your business.

Forge lasting relationships.
Through PeerSpark™, entrepreneurs develop a long-lasting network of friends and fellow business owners who care about each other’s success.

Empower significant business growth
Participants from our pilot project up to 2015 averaged 31% annual growth in revenue and 30 % growth in job creation.

Learn more about PeerSpark

April 5 2016

Cover of Feminine Capital book

What is YOUR Feminine Capital?

Find out and learn how to apply it in your business!

Buy the book Feminine Capital TODAY to get FREE bonus gifts

Women's Enterprise Centre is proud host and organizing partner of an international collaboration to showcase the collective power of women entrepreneurs AND present you with an exciting offer!

Learn how to leverage your 'feminine capital' – the unique set of skills and sensibilities that you use every day – in YOUR business, with the ground-breaking book Feminine Capital: Unlocking the Power of Women Entrepreneurs.


Purchase Feminine Capital on Amazon TODAY and receive BONUS GIFTS – just for buying the book:

  • 2 interactive webinars with authors Dr. Barbara Orser and Dr. Catherine Elliott – one for women’s enterprise support organizations and one for women entrepreneurs
  • Exclusive access to a collection of downloadable templates, resources and reports contributed by leading women’s enterprise support organizations from around the world
  • 6 personalized tools to help you apply the principles of Feminine Capital to your business or organization

Take part in this international learning opportunity and to leverage this exciting shift in entrepreneurship!

LEARN MORE about these offers at


Drawing on four decades of award-winning research, women's entrepreneurship experts Barbara Orser and Catherine Elliott reveal how women are harnessing different approaches to doing business.

They find that leveraging feminine capital can help women to create distinctive brands, build new markets, and drive profits—all while leveling the playing field in business. READ MORE >>

Praise for the Book

"The authors' guidance is spot on; it provides a good blend of touchstone references and new research; and the tools for teaching will serve women well, whether in the classroom or in the office."

—Julie R. Weeks, President and CEO, Womenable

"With its engaging and interactive approach, the book will appeal to young women seeking start-up guidance, academics, and professionals guiding business growth. Its focus on business innovation, exporting, and access to capital will unlock the exploding power of today's women entrepreneurs."

—Marsha Firestone, Founder & President, Women Presidents' Organization


We want this book to spark conversation about the enterprising women who are changing the face of entrepreneurship! Show your support for women’s enterprise on social media using #FEMCapital.

March 2016

Importing/Exporting to the USA? You Need to Be Here!

If you are a woman entrepreneur exploring your importing/exporting options, now you can access unprecedented support to make connections with Fortune 500 companies in trade missions to the US.

PLUS, thanks to a convergence of support programs to help you take advantage of this opportunity, you can also learn how to leverage your investment by participating in an upcoming info session and receive funding for a portion of your travel expenses with the CanExport Grant.

Women's Enterprise Centre can help you access these opportunities! Contact Kath Britton, Senior Business Advisor, if you're ready to take the next step.


BWIT is hosting two US trade missions to provide exclusive market access for women-led businesses. Join the Western-Canadian delegation on these trade missions to be part of B2B matchmaking, high-caliber networking and inspired programming while connecting with Fortune 500 and Fortune 1000 companies in the US. Learn more >>

Women in Business - North America Summit
Atlanta, Georgia | June 15-17, 2016
Unique event designed for women-owned businesses in innovative technologies across multiple sectors, from Canada, the United States and Mexico, to find opportunities for exporting, technology partnerships, integration in global value chains and funding.

Target sectors: Information & communications technology; automotive; defence; water technology; infrastructure; solar; life sciences; agri-good; chemicals; and textiles.

WBENC National Conference and Business Fair
Orlando, Florida | June 20-23, 2016
The world's largest supplier diversity conference; network with procurement specialists from leading corporations, multinationals and government agencies, as well as women business leaders from over 18 countries.

>> NEW! Matchmaking Sessions at WBENC
WBENC has just opened matchmaking sessions up to Canadian women business owners. If you are planning on attending WBENC, you can take advantage of matchmaking opportunities - but hurry, the deadline is March 31st!


Learn about upcoming trade missions, why you should join one and hear first-hand experiences from entrepreneurs who have attended in the past. Join a FREE info session hosted by our partners:
March 15, 9 - 9:30am
March 22, 11 - 11:30am
March 29, 11 - 11:30am

You may qualify for funding to cover 50% of your eligible expenses as you develop new markets such as travel to target markets, participation in trade fairs and missions and market research. Learn more >>

The Government of Canada has announced CanExport, a program that provides direct financial assistance to businesses wanting to export to new markets.
Learn More in a CanExport Webinar
Tuesday, March 15 | 1:30pm EDT
No need to register - just access the webinar on March 15 using the password CanExport

Interested in accessing these trade opportunities? Contact Kath Britton, our Senior Business Advisor, to see how she can support you as you explore international trade and connect you with Canada's Business Women in International Trade.
| 1.800.643.7014 ext. 202


Keep your finger on the pulse of international trade and sign up for BWIT's CanadExport e-Magazine. The 2016 edition includes:
Trade missions: helping you grow your business
Supplier diversity takes centre stage
Snapshot of Canadian female-owned SMEs by industry

Inspiring Women Receive “Radical” Grassroots Funding

SheEO: Radical Generosity – a new funding and support model for women business owners across the country – has announced the first five recipients who will share a pool of $500,000 to grow their social impact companies. Congratulations to three winners from BC, including Women’s Enterprise Centre loan client Toni Desrosiers of Abeego Designs! Women’s Enterprise is a proud supporter of this incredible initiative to support the women’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The remaining four recipients, chosen by an online voting process, are Suzanne Siemens and Madeleine Shaw of Lunapads, Sonia Strobel of Skipper Otto's Community Supported Fishery, Nadia Hamilton of Magnusmode, and Ilana Ben-Ari of Twenty One Toys. Besides receiving financing, the recipients will also be supported for a year with mentoring, retreats and workshops.

WEC CEO Laurel Douglas is an Activator and part of the movement. Led by Vicki Saunders of SheEO, the Radical Generosity fund has been created to support women-led businesses. Five-hundred female professionals from coast to coast have each contributed $1000 to this grassroots campaign, which aims to increase the funding pool to $1 million.

January 2016

Picture of hands holding a seed

You Can Help to Create Change: Introducing the Catalyst for Growth Fund

Submit your proposal to advance women in your community – apply by February 15 for up to $5,000!

We need more women leaders in BC – in business, on boards and in growing industries. Tell us how you can create change and you could get up to $5,000 to carry out your idea!

The Catalyst for Growth project, an initiative of Women's Enterprise Centre, helps take action to advance women in 2016 with the Catalyst for Growth Fund.

The World Economic Forum has identified women as the fastest-growing economic force in the world today.

In May 2015, people on throughout BC shared their visions and ideas to take advantage of this opportunity. Now it's time to implement these strategies and we may give you up to $5,000 to do just that.

This is your chance to make a real difference for women and the economy in BC!


  • STEP 1: View the key issues and recommendations identified in your area.
  • STEP 2: Identify what you can do to tackle a gap, problem or challenge or take advantage of an opportunity to advance women.
  • STEP 3: Submit your project proposal online and you may get up to $5,000 to help turn your vision into reality!

Some of the key areas being tackled by the Catalyst for Growth project include:

  • growing women in leadership (women executives, on boards, as professionals)
  • supporting women entrepreneurs
  • attracting women in trades and emerging sectors (Science, Tech, Engineering, Math)
  • fostering positive mindsets in all women
  • championing women and advocating for diversity
  • incorporating diversity in early education
  • activating men

View all of the recommendations at

Visit to learn more about the fund, including important dates and eligibility criteria.

Submit your proposal today! Application deadline is February 15.

October 2015

Women's Leadership Series Supports Our Mentoring Program

Recognizing a need in the Okanagan for growth and leadership events specifically for women, Crowe MacKay LLP partnered with the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce to create the Pinnacle Women’s Leadership Series. The inaugural breakfast event was held on September 29th with speaker Christina Anthony, Vice President of Odlum Brown, sharing her honest, straight-talking keynote entitled “Everyone Needs a Champion”.  Future events will continue to feature thought-provoking trailblazers who will inspire, inform and challenge the Okanagan’s women leaders of today and tomorrow.

Thanks to Crowe MacKay’s generous funding, 100% of the event’s gross proceeds have been donated to the Women’s Enterprise Centre’s mentorship programs. Established in 1995 by Western Economic Diversification Canada, to assist women in starting and growing businesses in British Columbia, Women’s Enterprise Centre programs are the perfect recipient of the Pinnacle Series’ proceeds. Women’s Enterprise Centre has grown to become the leading business resource centre in the province for women starting, purchasing or growing a small business, providing essential business services and resources, as well as referrals to many resources and other business service providers throughout the province.

“We are delighted that this speaker series brings nationally recognized women to Kelowna and thanks to the sponsorship of Crowe Mackay, it is accessible to many women. The gift of learning and inspiration continues with the ticket revenues supporting the Women’s Mentorship programs locally.” Caroline Grover, CEO, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

Meet Our New 'ACE' Coordinator, Danielle Hofer

Picture of Danielle HoferDanielle Hofer, BBA, is our new Admin, Client Service and Events (ACE) Coordinator based in our Kelowna head office. Women's Enterprise Centre is the leading business resource centre for women business owners across BC. WEC provides business loans, skills training, mentoring, advice and resources to women business owners across the province from its offices in Kelowna, Vancouver and Victoria.

Danielle has a business degree from the Okanagan School of Business with a major in Marketing. As a former member of the social entrepreneurship group Enactus, she developed projects to help teach entrepreneurship to K-12 students. She presented at regional and national competitions representing the Okanagan as a progressive and entrepreneurial community.

In her role as ACE Coordinator, Danielle plays an active role in the coordination and administration of events/sponsorship for WEC, provides office administrative support and, as a member of the client services team, she connects clients to the resources they need to succeed in business. Danielle is motivated to support individuals in their business ventures and is excited to be a part of a professional team committed to making entrepreneurship a viable option for women in BC.

Danielle enjoys learning about cultures through traveling. She spent six months studying abroad at the Berlin School of Economics and Law, helped build the first girls’ high school in a rural community in Kenya, Africa and completed two French language immersion programs in Quebec.


September 2015

Small Business BC’s First-Ever MyBizDay Event Happens in Kelowna This September

Download the press release

Small Business BC and The Province of British Columbia will host the first-ever MyBizDay Thompson Okanagan event on September 16, 2015 at the Laurel Packing House in Kelowna.

This free full-day event connects small business owners to the programs and resources that are available to entrepreneurs. Attendees will have the opportunity to access information and support through a mix of education, interactive panel sessions, exhibitors and networking.

“Small businesses are critical to the economic health of every community in B.C. and we are delighted to partner with the Province of British Columbia to help strengthen small business across B.C.,” says George Hunter, CEO of Small Business BC. “The MyBizDay events help entrepreneurs learn from successful local business owners and discover the tools and resources paramount to achieving long-term success.”

Topics to be covered by this year’s industry experts include:

  • Small Business Resources – presented by Small Business BC
  • Market Research – presented by Small Business BC
  • Digital Marketing – presented by Yellow Pages
  • Technology at Work – presented by Neil Squire Society
  • Demystifying CRA – presented by Grant Thornton
  • Financing – Fuel for Your Business – presented by Community Futures BC, Futurpreneur Canada and Women’s Enterprise Centre
  • Overcoming Business Challenges Panel – presented by Accelerate Okanagan, British Columbia Restaurant and Food Services, Central Okanagan Economic Development and WTFast Gamers Private Network

“The upcoming MyBizDays in Kelowna, Prince George and Nanaimo will be great forums to talk about what makes entrepreneurs tick. Through our government’s Small Business Accord we are making B.C. the most small-business friendly jurisdiction in Canada by helping give small business owners the resources they need so they can focus on what they do best – create jobs and spur innovation,” said the Honourable Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction.

The public and small business community is encouraged to join Small Business BC on the MyBizDay tour in Kelowna for day of networking, discussion and education.

For more information, visit

May 2015

Collaborative Project Answers the Call for Action to Advance Women’s Roles in the BC Economy

Just two weeks after the WEB Alliance – a collective of over 25 women’s business networks in BC – released “Women as a Catalyst for Growth: A BC Action Plan” calling for change to grow women’s contributions to the BC economy, Women’s Enterprise Centre will embark on a five-city tour to address the issue head-on and continue the dialogue at a regional level.

Starting in Kelowna on May 22, the Catalyst for Growth events include stops in Victoria (May 25); Prince George (May 26); Vancouver (May 27); and Prince Rupert (May 29). The issue at hand is the need for gender diversity on boards, among executives and professionals, and the need to support growth of women as entrepreneurs, in the trades and in emerging sectors.

As the BC Action Plan shows, there is tremendous opportunity for economic growth by advancing women in these areas, and this month community leaders, influencers and individuals from a cross-section of industries will come together in each community to explore how regional solutions can be developed.
These important, professionally facilitated discussions will build on the recently-released BC Action Plan, which shares the results of the 2014 BC Economic Forum (BCEF), a gathering of over 400 leaders and small business owners in Vancouver last fall. The report itself is the result of an unprecedented level of collaboration across committed BC organizations and individuals. It outlines extensive opportunities to grow the impact of women that can and should be acted on now by government, industry and individuals.

Jill Earthy is co-author of the BC Action Plan, co-chair of the BC Economic Forum, and chair of the Catalyst for Growth Steering Committee. “This report outlines a compelling business case to take swift action in supporting career growth for women in Canada,” says Earthy. “With the help of Women’s Enterprise Centre and Status of Women Canada, we have an opportunity in BC to work collaboratively and collectively to build on the report and reflect how the individual regions can help grow women’s impact on the BC economy.”

One of the top recommendations put forth by the report is to help women foster more self-affirming mindsets, and to address the societal mindsets that hold women back. The Catalyst for Growth tour will mark the first step in addressing this barrier with a confidence-building workshop by leading Impostor Syndrome expert Dr. Valerie Young.

People who suffer from the Impostor Syndrome often dismiss their accomplishments as “no big deal” or they think “if I can do it, anyone can.” Attendees will learn how to overcome self-limiting beliefs that are a common barrier to women (and men) taking on challenging leadership roles, scaling their business and maximizing their potential as contributors to their economies and communities.

“It is well documented that barriers to professional success are a combination of internal and external factors,” says Laurel Douglas, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre. “The collaborative dialogue will help us identify the regional resources that need to be developed to address systemic changes. But we also want to add immediate value in each community by giving participants the tools to overcome self-limiting beliefs, so they can step up and maximize their potential.”
Dr. Young’s workshop will be the first of its kind in BC and presents a unique opportunity to hear the advice she has shared at Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, MIT and with thousands of executives and professionals around the world. Dr. Young is an award-winning author whose book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, has been featured in O Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The Globe and Mail, Glamour and more.

The Catalyst for Growth project is guided by a Steering Committee of senior leaders who were all on the organizing committee for the BCEF, including representatives from The WEB Alliance, the Premier’s Women’s Economic Council, and the Professional Women’s Network. In Phase 2 of the project, the Steering Committee will incorporate the issues and solutions raised around the province into the BC Action Plan and report on the findings at the BC Economic Forum 2.0 planned for October 23, 2015 in Vancouver. Following that, they will select solutions that can be delivered in each region to act on the issues raised at the dialogues and maximize the impact of the Updated Action Plan with the resources available.

“We are overwhelmed by the number of partner and sponsor organizations who have stepped forward to collaborate on this project, which shows how relevant and timely this conversation is,” says Douglas.

The BCEF Action Plan summary and full report are available at For more information on the Catalyst for Growth project, please visit Event tickets are available in ADVANCE ONLY at NO TICKETS AT THE DOOR!

“It Starts With One”

Be a champion and make a difference. Research shows that mentors are crucial to the success of women entrepreneurs. Champions go a step further in supporting their mentees by opening doors of opportunities and standing up for them. The Government of Canada has launched a campaign “It Starts with One – Be her Champion” to enhance the chances of women’s career success. Read more here.

Gender Gap Survey

Here’s another way that you can have your say! If you are a woman entrepreneur and are in a position to grow your business, take this survey. The survey seeks to find out gaps and growth opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

It will only take about 10-15 minutes to complete the online survey .

Are You an Innovative Business?

Futurpreneur Canada and Spin Master Ltd. have joined hands for the fifth consecutive year to offer financing, mentoring, access to specially designed workshops and more to 10 innovative young entrepreneurs through the Spin Master Innovation Fund.
Application deadline is June 19. To learn more click here.

Mix and Mingle

Get inspired by Canadian and international business leaders at the Canadian Sponsorship Forum (CSFX) in Edmonton, Alberta on June 4-6. The impressive line-up of speakers includes Women’s Tennis Association’s Stacey Allaster - named by Forbes Magazine as one of the most powerful women in Sports and by Cosmopolitan Magazine as one of the “10 Incredible Women Who Have Fought for Equal Pay!” Find more about the event here.

April 2015

We Need Your Voice!

Join in a collaborative dialogue to discuss how your community could help to remove barriers and create opportunities to grow women’s impact on the BC economy. Women's Enterprise Centre presents a lively working forum and workshop “The Catalyst for Growth Event: Women for the BC Economy” in regions throughout the province in May 2015.

Tickets now on sale for:
May 22, 2015 – Kelowna
May 25, 2015 - Victoria
May 26, 2015 - Prince George
May 29, 2015 - Prince Rupert

Save the date for:
May 27, 2015 – Vancouver (Dr. Valerie Young workshop only)

Based on the success of the BC Economic Forum, we're taking the dialogue around the province to expand the movement to help strengthen our economies by engaging women and men to support more women leaders, women entrepreneurs, and women in trades and emerging sectors.

And we want your ideas!

In small, facilitated group discussions you’ll share your ideas and have your voice heard about how to affect change and support economic growth through women in your region. Then you’ll learn from award-winning author Dr. Valerie Young how to overcome the self-limiting mindset that is a common barrier to women’s leadership. Learn more on the Catalyst for Growth project website.

Feedback from the working forums will create practical recommendations for government, business and individuals – to expand the focus and create real change around BC.

Trade Mission to Brazil

Canadian Business Women Trade Mission to Brazil is hosted by the Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch to Sᾶo Paulo, Brazil from May 17 to 20, 2015. The primary industries that will be concentrated on are agriculture and agri-food products, education, information and communications technology and life sciences. The mission will follow the Global Summit of Women.

EXCELerate Your Business

Save the date for the EXCELerate Conference in Vancouver, Sept 30 - Oct 2nd. EXCELerate 2015: Grow Your Business with the Speed of Collaboration is dedicated to the full spectrum of women entrepreneurs and professionals from all sectors and sizes. The mission of this conference is to significantly impact and increase the economic empowerment of women globally through knowledge, connections and collaboration. Interested? Learn more here.

Boost Your Exports

You can boost your exports to emerging markets with the help of a new export market development program. The program announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in March, 2015 will provide a total of $50 million over five years. This program will help finance activities such as participation in trade fairs and missions, and market research. Find out here how this program may help you tap into existing markets.

Exports Tour

Get the inside scoop from Export Development Canada on the global economy in the “Let's Talk Exports Cross Canada Tour.” Learn some valuable tips on how to succeed in the world marketplace. The Vancouver session will take place on May 21, 2015. Not able to attend the session? You can register for “Let’s Talk Exports” free webinar on June 2.

March 2015

Congratulations to Our CEO, Laurel Douglas!

We are delighted to congratulate our CEO Laurel Douglas who was recently recognized by the Women’s Leadership Circle of the Vancouver Board of Trade with the Wendy McDonald Community Catalyst Award.

The Award is named after Wendy McDonald, who was a force in Canadian business and a pioneer of women in leadership. She left an indelible impression on The Vancouver Board of Trade when she became the organization’s first female chair in 1990.

Over her last 10 years as CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre, Laurel has influenced significant awareness and change in entrepreneurship concepts, ideas, and programs through her support of hundreds of women entrepreneurs. A strong advocate for increased support for women’s business growth, Laurel recognizes the issues and barriers women business owners experience while making the transition to self-employment.

Other awardees include Madeline Shaw of Lunapads International Ltd. and Paulina Cameron of Futurpreneur Canada.

Laurel Douglas will be honoured alongside all winners in Vancouver on April 8 at the Board of Trade luncheon featuring the Minister of Status of Women, Dr. Kellie Leitch.

Save the Date!

We know women make a difference. Come together for a conversation to celebrate the contribution of women to the BC economy. In a collaborative dialogue let's talk about what's working and explore how we can create an even greater impact. We need your voice.

As a bonus, we will also be featuring Dr. Valerie Young - Internationally known speaker and author on the subject of the Imposter Syndrome.

Stay tuned! We invite you to save the date for your community and sign up to get all the details once they're available.

May 22, 2015 - Kelowna
May 25, 2015 - Victoria
May 26, 2015 - Prince George
May 29, 2015 - Prince Rupert

You CAN be the Next Entrepreneurial Leader

If you are a female entrepreneur with a rapidly growing company, apply today for the Entrepreneurial Winning Women Program®, an award and leadership program that identifies a select group of high-potential women entrepreneurs whose businesses show real potential to scale - and then helps them achieve it.

The application deadline is June 15, 2015.

Nominate a Successful Woman Entrepreneur

The PROFIT W100 ranking and awards ranks female entrepreneurs on the basis of company size, growth rate and profitability. Winners receive invaluable coverage in Canadian Business and Chatelaine magazines and, plus business-building marketing and PR support from PROFIT and an invitation to the PROFIT W100 Idea Exchange.

Entry deadline is March 31, 2015.

Disney Accelerator for Tech Companies

If you’re a tech based company, don’t miss the opportunity to apply for the Disney Accelerator and Turner/Warner Bros Media Camp. Ten companies will be selected for the Accelerator, a mentorship and investment program for technology-enabled startups. The Media Camp will help grow innovative media businesses.

BC Tech Companies can get help from the BC Government International Trade and Investment Office. For more information email

Learn How to Sell Online

Attend this free webinar presented by BDC to learn how to boost your online sales, measure your online store performance and attract more traffic to your website.

February 2015

Score Big with Major Sports Events

Did you know that nearly all of the upcoming FIFA Women's World Cup sponsors have Supplier Diversity programs? FIFA's international sponsors, Coca-Cola, Hyundai-Kia, VISA have all long recognized the advantages of broadening their supply chains to drive innovation and competitive pricing. Want to learn more about how certified diversity businesses are connecting with Global 1000 companies? Visit Supplier Diversity Canada.

Women’s Enterprise Centre offers two ways to position your business for global sports business opportunities:
List your company in Canada’s Major Events Supplier Database and
Learn how to pursue and win contracts in our upcoming webinar, February 23rd 10 – 11:30 am "Scoring Business with Major Sports Events."

IWIB Award-Winners Raise the Bar

Women’s Enterprise Centre congratulates some of BC's most outstanding business women on being honored with Business in Vancouver’s 2015 Influential Women in Business Award. Since 1995, Women’s Enterprise Centre have been part of the thriving community of women entrepreneurs and leaders in BC. We’re committed to helping raise the profile of women in business, and these awards showcase accomplished entrepreneurs and leaders who act as role models, sponsors, mentors and champions.
They will be honoured at a special event on March 4th, 2015

Congratulations to the Top Five SBBC Awards Finalists

Women’s Enterprise Centre congratulates the top five finalists of the 12th Annual Small Business BC Awards. A special shout-out goes to WEC clients Origin Gluten-Free Bakery of Victoria and Vancouver Tumblebus of Port Coquitlam.

Winners will be announced on February 26, 2015 at the Small Business BC awards ceremony at the Pan Pacific Vancouver. Women's Enterprise Centre is proud to be a community sponsor for the SBBC awards. Save 10% on the tickets using discount code SBBC-COMMUNITY

Are You at the Turning Point? Then Turn It Up!

Is your business at the crossroads of growth? Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is accepting applications for the 2015 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award. If you are a business owner aged 18 to 35, you can compete for a grand prize of $100,000 and a second prize of $25,000 in consulting services from BDC. The deadline to enter the contest is March 18, 2015, at noon, Eastern Daylight Time.

Opening Doors to the Asia-Pacific Market

Do you plan to expand your business in Asia? You can benefit immensely from the Canada - South Korea Free Trade Agreement which came into force last month. To explore if exporting is the next step for your business, contact our trade specialist Sandra Light.

Power of Women

Every year, International Women’s Day ( IWD) celebrates the contribution of women and encourages initiatives for women’s equality and power. Celebrated on March 8, Canada’s theme for 2015 is “Strong Women. Strong World. Improving Economic Opportunities for All.” Look for IWD events in your area.

January 2015

Find the SOLUTION for Your Resolution

Has your resolution stalled out? Don't worry - we've collected some helpful resources that will get you back on the road to success!

This year I'm going to... start my business!

  • Sign up for our FREE Starting a Business Info Session to get all those important start-up details, including different types of business structures, registering your business and tax, licensing and legal requirements.
  • Explore the internal process of making the transition to self-employment with our FREE Taking the Leap to Entrepreneurship guide.
  • Download the FREE Starting Your Business guide, which will explain what you need to know in order to start a business and where you can find resources and information to support you along the way.
  • If you’re ready to write your business plan, check out the Creating Your Business Plan Workbook, a comprehensive learning guide that takes you through each step of the business planning process—from thinking about starting a business to ticking off your business plan checklist.
  • Make an appointment with a Business Advisor for a FREE business plan review.

This year I'm going to... hone my business skills.

  • See if you’re eligible for up to $10,000 in help to cover training costs via the Canada Job Grant.
  • View our events calendar to see what training is available in your area
  • Sign up for eBlasts from WEC to be notified of workshops being offered in your community

This year I'm going to... increase my profits.

This year I'm going to... get my business finances in order.

This year I'm going to... become a confident leader.

Apply today for Taking the Stage®, a four-part program that will help you step forward, develop your leadership presence and better influence and inspire others. Groups are starting soon in Vancouver, Victoria, Prince Rupert and Prince George.

This year I'm going to... figure out how to engage my customers on social media.

This year I'm going to... take advantage of free promotional opportunities for my business.

Yesterday’s phone books are today’s databases. Why miss a free opportunity to have your business discovered by potential buyers? There are many databases available through the Canadian and Provincial governments which can bring customers to you! Here are two places to get started:  

  • Canadian Company Capabilities – Industry Canada’s website where companies can search for suppliers. (There are specialized directories for women-owned and aboriginal-owned businesses, among others.)
  • Canada's Major Events Supplier Database – This FREE resource provides a place for vendors and buyers to meet. International buyers are already accessing the database to find suppliers for the products and services needed for international, hosted events such as the Women's World Cup and Commonwealth Games, and they could be your next big contract!


5 Things You Need to Know About the Canada Jobs Grant

  1. You can get help with training costs for employees or yourself – up to $10,000 per person!
  2. Training from Women’s Enterprise Centre is eligible for the grant, including our popular Grow Your Business Webinar series!
  3. The deadline for applications is March 31, 2015, and eligible training must start before then.
  4. Employers must cover 1/3 of the cost of training, but they may be able to count wages as part of their contribution.
  5. The CJG online application must be submitted before the training starts, and the approval may take up to 30 days, but applicants can start their training before being approved.

Learn more on the Canada Job Grant website or call us at 1.800.643.7014 to find out how you can take our Grow Your Business Webinar series.


Women's Enterprise Centre Receives $200,650 to Fund BC Women as a Catalyst for Economic Growth

Click here to download the Media Release

Photo of Minister Leitch, Ron Cannan, Jill Earthy, Renee Wasylyk, Laurel Douglas

December 16, 2014 - Women’s Enterprise Centre Receives $200,650 to help women reach their full potential to contribute to the BC economy – on boards, as entrepreneurs and in emerging industries.

Minister of Labour and Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Dr. Kellie Leitch, today announced $200,650 in funding for Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC).

The funds will be used in BC regions to continue discussions which began at the BC Economic Forum: Women as a Catalyst for Growth, held in Vancouver in October 2014. This working forum focused on barriers and action plans to grow more women in senior leadership, more women entrepreneurs and encourage more women into trades and emerging sectors.

The Forum was designed to highlight opportunities here in BC to support women in business and advance the conversation into action strategies for economic growth.

The Forum was led by Jill Earthy, Co-Chair of the WEB Alliance of Women’s Business Networks ( and Lois Nahirney, Chair of Premier’s Women’s Economic Council (PWEC). This unique working session brought more than 400 men and women community leaders and influencers together for in-depth discussions to identify barriers and potential solutions to ensure that women are fully participating in the BC economy - in business, on boards and in growing industries.

The project funding announced today will allow women from all regions of the province to have their voices heard and identify ideas for action by government, corporations and individuals in three key areas: Growing Women in Senior Leadership, Growing Women Entrepreneurs and Growing women in Non-Traditional jobs and Emerging Sectors. This project will allow unique solutions and resources to be developed to address some of these issues.

“Our Government’s number one priority is creating jobs, growth, and long-term prosperity. That’s why we are pleased to support projects like this in British Columbia and across Canada,” said the Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women at the funding announcement today in Kelowna.

“We are pleased to partner with the Government of Canada, and work with key stakeholders across BC to promote economic prosperity for women in senior leadership roles, women entrepreneurs, and women in skilled technical trades and emerging sectors. This initiative will build on the excellent work that began at the BC Economic Forum in October 2014,” responded Laurel Douglas, CEO of BC-based Women's Enterprise Centre.

The business case for women’s full participation in the economy is very clear. Since 2004, Catalyst Inc., the leading non-profit organization with a mission to expand opportunities for women and business, has produced studies showing that companies which achieve diversity in their management and on corporate boards attain better financial results than other companies.

November 2014

Mentoring – One of the Little Secrets to Business Success!

Shhhh… Don’t tell too many people, we have a limited number of mentors. But did you know?

  • 93% of small businesses believe that mentoring can help them succeed
  • 28% of small businesses are currently using mentors
  • 70% of small businesses that receive mentoring survive five years or more – double the rate of non-mentored entrepreneurs!

(Sources: UK Sage Business Index and Federation of Small Businesses)

A mentoring relationship... good for your health!

Mentors can expect to enjoy a host of health and other benefits, including lowered blood pressure, reduced stress and increased happiness. It doesn’t just “feel good” to be a Mentor - it IS good for your health! 

>> Check out the health benefits in this MentorshipBC infographic

     ...adds to your network

Throughout BC, WEC has a network of trained volunteer Mentors who are key to our mentoring program success. Our mentees tell us that their Mentors are making a difference in their business success.

>> Meet Women’s Enterprise Centre's amazing volunteer Mentors you options

Women’s Enterprise Centre has 4 unique mentoring programs to suit your needs. Whether you’re looking for a one-on-one match, want to join a group in your community, are looking to learn leadership and communication skills, or you just want information on a specific business topic – we have a mentoring program for you!

The best secret of all? Our programs are only $150 for 6 months of mentoring!

>> Explore your mentorship options

     ...provides advice from someone who's been there

It’s no secret that successful Women Entrepreneurs are smart about asking for help when they are faced with business challenges. A mentor is a more experienced individual willing to share knowledge with someone less experienced in a relationship of mutual trust.

Mentors can help you gain confidence, connect to your community, and learn through sharing victories and challenges.

Need help finding a mentor?
>> If you're in the first 5 years of business apply here

Want to be a Mentor and join our team of volunteers?
>> If you have 5 or more years business experience apply here

Not sure if you need a Mentor but want some Business Advice?
Call 1.800.643.7014 and ask to speak to one of our knowledgeable and experienced Business Advisors at no charge.



Picture of WEC CEO and Clients


WEC, FWE and Futurpreneur Partner Up for Women's Entrepreneurship Day

WEC joined groups in 144 countries on November 18 to take ‘one day to celebrate, support and empower women entrepreneurs worldwide’ for Women's Entrepreneurship Day 2014. Several WEC loan clients were on-hand to hear from Christine Magee, who shared her inspiring growth success story which led her to be co-founder and president of Canada’s largest mattress retailer.

Magee shared how her family and friends were confused by her choice to leave the commercial banking sector to start a chain of mattress stores. She shared the key elements of their strategy as well as her own lessons learned. She participated in a very candid Q&A, sharing her views on how having a male business partner might have contributed to the company’s growth strategy, and how important it is to have a good team in place in order to help the leader focus on growth opportunities.


The WEB Alliance Helps Make the BC Economic Forum a Success!

Women's Enterprise Centre thanks the WEB Alliance and the steering committee, panelists, notetakers and volunteers for their contribution to the historic gathering of community leaders on October 24. Watch for follow-up events in your area in 2015!


Your Business Could Score a Contract for the Women's World Cup

Did you know that Canada is the world's second most active sport hosting nation? And that in 2015 alone, international sporting events will generate over $800 million in spending via the FIFA Women's World Cup, PanAm Games, Canada Games and World Masters Games?

If your business is in the areas of

  • Catering
  • Event Planning
  • Promotional Products
  • Giftware
  • Transportation
  • Technical services
  • Tourism
  • Staffing
  • Translation

or other products or services in demand by event planners, you have the opportunity to promote your capabilities through Canada's Major Events Supplier Database. This resource will be marketed to event organizers, participants, sponsors, broadcasters and sport tourism agencies who are coming to Canada in 2015...and beyond.

For more information, visit Supplier Diversity Canada and register your business today!


Hot Off the Press! A Workbook to Finish Your Business Plan

Check out our revised and updated Creating Your Business Plan Workbook! This Learning Guide is a comprehensive book that takes you through each step of the business planning process—from thinking about starting a business to a final business plan checklist.

Whether you’re in the early stages of business planning or unsure of how to finish, this workbook asks the questions you need to ensure you’re building a business that fits your life. The book is accompanied by starting documents so you can work through each step in word and then transfer your responses into a final business plan. When your plan is complete, we offer a complimentary business plan review with one of our Business Advisors! Read more or purchase the Creating Your Business Plan Workbook.


WEC Road-tripping to the Kootenays

In October we were delighted to connect with our clients in the Kootenays to offer workshops on financial understanding in Elkford, Cranbrook and Fernie in partnership with the Kootenays Rockies Innovation Council. Stay tuned for our next round of workshops in the Kootenays in Spring 2015!


Plan for Holiday Hours

This is a friendly reminder that banks and other important offices may be closed or have reduced hours in December, so be sure to plan ahead for the things you need in your business!

Also, don't forget to give your customers lots of advanced notice if you plan to take some time off this December.

Women's Enterprise Centre offices will be closed from noon December 24 to January 5. We wish you and yours the best this holiday season!


October 2014

5 Tips to Leverage Your Diverse Supplier Certification


  1. Spend time on your capability statement. If you don’t have the resources in-house, send your draft to a graphic designer or other professional to help polish it. Have your capability statement reviewed by WEC or someone knowledgeable on capability statements.
  2. If you become certified, be prepared to spend $3K + in marketing during the year on this initiative— going to the National WBENC conference and/or the Canadian conference is an important way to leverage your certification. Research the corporates before you go so that you can personalize your capability statement for your target clients.
  3. Follow up with connections that you’ve made, both with corporates and with other WBE’s. Ask when and how they would like you to follow up with them.
  4. Be prepared. Have a 7-second, 60-second and longer pitch ready to go. You never know when you might be asked about your business.
  5. Network and/or partner with other WBE’s. They are a great resource and are possibly even potential clients.


Frequently Asked Business Questions: Growing Your Biz

Our Business Advisors help entrepreneurs in all stages of business. Many of our clients are ready to grow, but their new opportunities bring new questions. Here are some frequently asked business questions from our growth clients:


Announcing Our New Equal Access to Capital Loan

Women’s Enterprise Centre offers an Equal Access to Capital Loan of up to $50,000 to women who are recent immigrants to Canada, youth under age 39 or have a personal income under $20,000 or family income under $30,000. If you fall into one of these categories, you may not be required to offer security (collateral) for your loan and will only be required to provide a 10% personal equity investment in the business. Learn more


Reality TV Shows How BC Businesses Benefit from Mentoring

Season 2 of The Hard Way features BC businesses that are challenged to face their problems and, with the help of mentors, get back on track. Studies show that 70% of mentored small businesses survive five years or more—double the rate of non-mentored entrepreneurs. The Hard Way documents the journey of struggling local businesses that benefit from BC’s home-grown mentoring programs.

Watch Women’s Enterprise Centre’s Skills Development Manager, Dawn McCooey as a Guest Mentor on episodes airing Nov. 1 and 8. Dawn brings more than 20 years of experience in the adult training and development field. As the owner of a career consulting company for over 18 years, Dawn managed up to 32 employees in three offices and was voted “Best Boss in Victoria.”

The Hard Way is shown Saturdays at 6:30 pm on CHEK TV on Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. It’s also available on Telus Optik TV Channel 121 throughout BC. For more information about the show and its mentors, visit The Hard Way website, and stay tuned for the call for businesses to participate next season!


Call for Nominees: Small Business BC Awards

Nominate yourself - or your favourite small business - for the Small Business BC Awards! Voting ends November 30 and every nominee gets access to exclusive tools and resources that will benefit their business.

There are 10 award categories, including two new awards for Best Immigrant Entrepreneur and Best Emerging Entrepreneur. Winners receive $1,500, a one-year All-Access Pass to Small Business BC education and experts, mentorship, and extensive media exposure. Learn more and nominate yourself today!


Resources for Small Business Week

In honour of Small Business Week, BDC has created some helpful resources for small business owners.


Renée Safrata Wins ‘WBE of the Year’ at the WEConnect International Awards

October 1, 2014 - Renée Safrata, CEO of VIVO Team Development headquartered in Vancouver, BC won the prestigious Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) of the Year award at the WEConnect International Awards in Montreal, Quebec.

“WEConnect International’s certification has provided resources and opened doors that continue to fuel VIVO Team’s growth into new markets,” says Renée Safrata of VIVO Team. “I’m honoured by the recognition and ongoing support by WEConnect International.”

Read more on the VIVO website.

September 2014

Meet Our New Staff

Photo of Chaunda DaigneaultChaunda Daigneault, BBA (Hons) is the Marketing & Training Coordinator for Women’s Enterprise Centre, based in our Kelowna head office.

Chaunda has an Arts degree from UBCO and an Honours BBA degree from the Okanagan School of Business. In her role as Marketing Coordinator, Chaunda provides writing, design and implementation support for WEC promotional activities via many channels throughout the province. As Training Coordinator, she also plays an active role on the skills development team by providing administrative, organizational and logistic support for training events.

Passionate about communication and creativity, Chaunda worked in the publishing industry for five years before she joined Women’s Enterprise Centre in 2014. She enjoys working with a diverse team of professionals who are dedicated to helping women start, grow and succeed in business.

Congratulations to Board Member Sue Adams!

The team at Women’s Enterprise Centre congratulates WEC Board Bember Sue Adams on being honoured with the 2014 Whistler Citizen of the year award. This award is Whistler's longest-standing celebration and honours an outstanding community member who contributes significant volunteer time to enhancing the quality of life in Whistler.

"Whether I am operating a restaurant or a business organization, I want it to be the best, most wholesome entity it can be," says Sue. "True satisfaction for me comes from lifelong learning—helping others learn and growing myself at the same time."


Have Your Say at the BC Economic Forum

Women’s Enterprise Centre invites you to define women’s roles in the economic future of BC by creating new action strategies for growth. On Friday, October 24, join the leaders—men and women—in your community at the BC Economic Forum: Women as a Catalyst for Growth. This powerful and engaging working forum will identify strategies to get more women leaders in business, on boards and in growing industries

Women's Enterprise Centre is part of The WEBAlliance of BC Women's Business Networks, a collective of women's business organizations, that is co-hosting this large-scale event. We invite you to attend as a member of our network to ensure that the solutions generated for women entrepreneurs reflect your needs.

This economic forum will help facilitate conversation, while highlighting challenges and opportunities here in BC. Most importantly, feedback from the forum will help create practical recommendations for government, business and individuals—to shape policy and ultimately create change. Change for all stakeholders.

Have your voice heard through this highly engaging and interactive working session. The forum will feature three working tracks:   

  • Growing Women in Senior Leadership
    • Women Executives
    • Women on Boards
  • Growing Women Entrepreneurs
    • Inspiring Vision
    • Pathways for Growth
  • Growing Women in Non-Traditional Jobs and Emerging Sectors
    • Trades and Non-Traditional Jobs
    • Emerging Sectors

Learn more or register on the Vancouver Board of Trade website.


Workshop Alert! Financial Bootcamp, Kootenays

Women’s Enterprise Centre is pleased to partner with the Kootenay Rockies Innovation Council (KRIC) for three half-day information-packed workshops around the Kootenays. Join Business Advisor Krista Mallory in Elkford (Oct. 7), Cranbrook (Oct. 8) or Invermere (Oct. 9) to gain the financial skills you need to make sound business decisions.

Learn more or register on the KRIC website.


Don’t Miss Out—You’ll Want to Hear This!

Supplier Diversity might sound complicated, but it’s not! One example is when women business owners get in front of international buyers. Listen to Aileen McManamon explain supplier diversity and how you can benefit on CBC’s The Early Edition.

Listen to the inverview at 40:10 or read this article on supplier diversity recently featured in The Vancouver Sun. Supplier diversity has opened doors for women entrepreneurs—are you benefiting from the excitement?

Learn more about the Major Events Supplier Database and Supplier Diversity Canada.


Kick Off Small Business Month in Vancouver

Join Small Business BC in Vancouver on September 29 as they kick off small business month with INSPIRE, an event that celebrates entrepreneurship in BC. Participate in an interactive panel session featuring some of BC’s top entrepreneurs as they share their stories, experiences and advice. Learn more or register on the SBBC website.



Enterprising Women Look for Their Own ‘World Cup’ Wins

Women Aiming to Reap Benefits of Canada’s Top Sport Hosting Status

Women business owners are declaring themselves ‘game-ready’ as the one year countdown until Canada hosts the women’s tournament in 2015 has begun.

Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) has announced the launch of a ‘Major Events Supplier Database,’ a portal intended to promote the expansion of public and private-sector supply chains to include more women-owned, minority-owned and LGBT-owned businesses. The database will be accessible through WEC’s Supplier Diversity Canada website, and will cater to the needs of global sports and cultural events. The project is supported through the federal ministry Status of Women Canada.

“We see tremendous advantages in promoting women and other diverse suppliers in supporting major events hosted in Canada” says Laurel Douglas, CEO of WEC. “For the entrepreneurs it represents a great opportunity to secure international contracts.”

Inbound soccer federations, corporate partners, broadcasters and media, and sport tourism operators in addition to the organizing committee are all buying, and this database will be a ready resource of qualified companies who can meet their needs in providing an outstanding experience to global visitors. Buyers are expected to start accessing the database in September, when WEC aims to have 1000 businesses in the database from across Canada.

Working with the national Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada, the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Suppliers Council and the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, WEC will encourage the rapid enrollment of companies in the areas of catering, staffing, event décor, translation, promotional gifts, security, cleaning, tourism activities and much more typically in demand by event organizers and visitors.

Canada currently sits in the number 2 position on SportCal’s ‘NationsIndex,’ which measures the sport hosting strength of countries. Between 2009 and 2020, Canada will support 42 major international or multi-sport competitions. Next year alone will bring the Canada Winter Games, the PanAm Games and the FIFA Women’s World Cup with a total estimated economic impact of $657 million dollars in eight host cities. Many of FIFA’s international partners have their own supplier diversity initiatives, including Coca-Cola, VISA, Hyundai and SONY.

“FIFA instituted the Women’s World Cup in response to women’s growth in competing at the elite level of the game. And they are demonstrating their faith in the women’s game yet again by expanding the field from 16 to 24 teams in 2015. We feel an expanded role for women entrepreneurs in making the tournament a success is a natural fit” says Aileen McManamon of 5T Sports Group, who is managing the project on behalf of WEC.

Supplier Diversity is a procurement practice that has been on the rise in Canada and most notably embraced by corporations such as TELUS, RBC, TD and BMO. Many large sporting events have embraced supplier diversity in their procurement strategies, including the PanAm Games, which has already awarded over $5.2 million in contracts to 182 companies as a result.

SPAM? But I’m Just Emailing My Customers! 5 Steps to Being CASL Compliant

Lots of news has been made about the Canada’s anti-spam law (CASL) coming into effect on July 1. But what does it mean for you and how might it affect your business?
To ensure that Women’s Enterprise Centre is compliant with CASL, we’ve done the research. Here’s a quick overview of what’s required and how we’re working to ensure we’re compliant.

What is CASL?

This legislation prohibits sending electronic communications to any electronic device (computer, tablet, phone, etc.) without the recipient’s implied or express consent.

Here are 5 steps to being CASL compliant:

1. Determine which of your emails/texts/tweets/postings are “commercial electronic message” (CEMs) under CASL. Any promotion of a good, service, organization—whether or not payment is received—likely fits into this category.

Although WEC’s e-News is mostly informational, it frequently promotes our services and upcoming events. Therefore all of our eNews issues will be handled to meet CASL mandatory requirements for CEMs (better to be safe than sorry).

2. When you create a message to distribute electronically, clearly identify the sender (you) and give your contact information.

For our eNews, WEC is clearly shown as the sender and the email includes information on how to contact WEC, (including links to our website where more complete information is posted about WEC’s mandate and policies).

3. Determine who you’re allowed to send a CEM to. The ideal situation is called “express consent,” where a recipient has asked you to send them this type of communication. There are situations where implied consent is acceptable. See the CASL website for more information.

For our eNews, WEC only sends it to individuals who have indicated that they want to receive this communication. This has been WEC’s approach since we launched this online newsletter many years ago. You receive our eNews because at some point in the past you explicitly requested that it be sent to you.

4. You must always offer an “unsubscribe” option. Also, if you receive an “unsubscribe request,” then you have 10 days to ensure no future messages will be sent to that person.

At the bottom of each WEC eNews issue, there is a link allowing you stop the delivery of subsequent newsletters. This is the “unsubscribe” link.

5. Once you’ve done your due diligence to become compliant, establish a policy for CASL and train those who distribute your CEMs.

WEC aims to follow best practices with respect to CASL and individual privacy. A formal policy is under development and will be posted on the website.

Your business may already be compliant, but it’s always best to take a proactive approach in communicating with your customers. They’ll be happy to hear from you and more likely to support your business growth!

Please do not hesitate to contact us at for more information regarding our approach to CASL.

You might also be interested in…

In addition to our eNews, WEC also occasionally sends out eBlasts announcing upcoming events. To receive these locally targeted email communications you must request these separately. Many people find it useful to receive both. If you currently do not receive eBlasts from WEC—but would like to—please click here. As with our eNews, you can unsubscribe anytime. Alternatively, you can manage your subscriptions to our eBlasts via the Women’s Enterprise Centre website.

Learn more…

Some email and technical service companies have posted presentations, webinars, and checklists to help you become compliant. Here are some links we found useful:

Get on the List

A new resource is now available to assist women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. The Canadian Business Women in International Trade program has introduced an online database which increases awareness of women-owned businesses and their products/services to potential buyers.

Companies self-identified as being 51% or more owned, managed, and controlled by one or more women can register on the website. For any questions regarding the women-owned specialized directory or the CCC, contact the BWIT team at

Discover New Markets! Learn How to Sell Your Professional Services to the Government Of Canada

Are you interested in learning how you can expand your market by selling your professional services to the Government of Canada? Get the latest tips and insights on how to find opportunities with the Government of Canada. This panel discussion will also provide information about the centralized Professional Services ePortal and ProServices.

Click here for details

Funding Available for Child-Care Providers - Apply Now!

A total of $14.8 million is now available to child-care providers to create new child-care places in BC. Private child-care organizations can apply for up to $250,000 and non-profit child-care providers can apply for up to $500,000.
Applications will be accepted during the following three intake periods:

  • May 2 - June 30, 2014
  • Sept. 1 - Oct. 31, 2014
  • Feb. 1 - March 31, 2015

Click here to learn more about this initiative from the Government of B.C.

Go for the Greens

“Go for the Greens” conference is offering exciting opportunities to women entrepreneurs looking to grow their business. The event will offer exclusive access to corporations and government agencies, non-profits and professional associations ready to do business with women entrepreneurs.

The conference will be held in Orlando, Florida on September 11-13. Click here for details.


Workshop Alert: "Media Matters"

Learn from industry experts on how to get media attention and leverage it for your business. Join us on June 4 in Vancouver to find out:

  • What makes news
  • How to ‘create’ news when you need to
  • How to prepare for your time in the spotlight
  • How to integrate media efforts into your overall marketing plan

The presentation will be followed by a panel of media professionals who can provide the straight goods on how to get the media to pay attention to you! Click here to register.

Growth Webinar Series Is Back

Women’s Enterprise Centre is excited to continue its Grow Your Business webinar series with a summer series starting July 8, and a fall series on September 9. These 6 session webinar series are held Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 9 am – 10:30am. This series is open to both male and female entrepreneurs. The cost is $ 750 and includes hard copy of all course materials, 7 webinars and 6 months of individual business advising.

Session 1: Growing Your Business So It's Right for YOU!
Sessions 2 & 3: Setting New Goal Posts: Growing Your Business from a Tactical Perspective Part 1 & 2
Session 4: Focused Marketing
Session 5: Power of One: Sales Workshop.
Session 6: Financial Management
Session 7: Social Media - Love It or Hate It, But in Business - Use It

Click here to register for this excellent opportunity to learn about business growth.
You may be eligible for government funding under the Micro-Business Training Pilot Program. Visit for details

WEC Is Part of an Award Winning Team

The four partners of the Women’s Enterprise Initiative across Western Canada have been recognized by Startup Canada in its first national Startup Canada Awards. The “Government Organization of the Year” award recognizes a government initiative that advances the success of entrepreneurs through innovative approaches and creates impact on entrepreneurial activities locally and nation-wide. Alberta Women Entrepreneurs was also recognized for their work incubating and accelerating growth of entrepreneurs.Click here for award details.

The four partners of the WEI are Women’s Enterprise Centre of BC, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan Inc. and Women's Enterprise Centre of Manitoba

Are You an Innovative Start-up?

Futurpreneur Canada (CYBF) and Spin Master Ltd. have joined hands for the fourth consecutive year to offer financing, mentoring, access to specially designed workshops and more to innovative entrepreneurs through the Spin Master Innovation Fund.

Ten innovative start-ups will receive:

  • up to $50,000 in financing;
  • 2 years of business mentoring;
  • 2 exclusive innovation workshops;
  • expert advice from Spin Master executives; and
  • access to helpful business resources & Futurpreneur Canada’s community of over 5,000 members.

Application deadline is June 20. To learn more click here.


Who Is Gen Y and Y Should I Care?

Don’t miss the “Can't We All Just Get Along? Success with Whistler's Multi-Generational Workforce” event, hosted by Women of Whistler on April 30th. Women’s Enterprise Centre will be presenting a “Bridging the Generation Divide” workshop where you will discover how you can create a workplace that attracts and engages Gen Y employees!

42% long term employees in Whistler are 20-29 years old. A whopping 80% of Whistler’s seasonal employees are under 30! Understanding Generation Y (also known as Millennials) and retaining these talented young employees gives your businesses an enormous competitive edge.

Get the inside scoop on creating a happy team across the generations. For details click here

Matchmaker, Matchmaker Make Me a Match!

With a projected attendance of more than 3,000, the 2014 Women Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) National Conference and Business Fair can open doors for your success. The conference will provide an opportunity to access companies that are looking to purchase from diverse suppliers. The unique matchmaker meetings are excellent opportunities to meet corporate and government procurement representatives.

The conference will be held from June 23 to June 26 Philadelphia, PA, USA. Click here for more information.

Selling to Government Made Easy

The recently launched two page short-form request for proposal (SRFP) in BC has simplified the process of selling to the Government. The short form will be used for government opportunities valued at less than $250,000.

The change streamlines the proposal process and provides opportunities to small businesses in BC to compete for government procurement opportunities. Click here to learn more.


Are you exporting or thinking about doing international trade? This free interactive webinar on May 6 will discuss the do's and don'ts of international contracts and how to mitigate the risks of contract cancelation. Click here for more information

Canadian Mompreneurs Do It All

A recent survey by Sage North America and Mompreneurs has found Canadian mompreneurs to be efficient multitaskers who focus on their families and use their skills to excel in management.

Of the women surveyed, “the majority of women excel at management and identify their business strengths to be dealing with clients (90 per cent) or suppliers (63 per cent) relations, managing sales or marketing (63 per cent), and managing staff (42 per cent). “ The survey also found out that a major challenge was work/life balance (56 per cent).

Click here to read about the survey.


Congratulations to our Board Chair, Joyce Groote

The team at Women’s Enterprise Centre congratulates board chair Joyce Groote on being honored with a 2014 Influential Women in Business Award. Joyce is the owner and CEO of Holeys Canada, which she leads while also chairing 3 CEO peer mentoring groups through TEC Canada (The Executive Committee). As a TEC Canada Chair, she enjoys helping CEOs get results and achieve their business goals, and provides her members with ongoing coaching and support.

Laurel Douglas, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre, was fortunate enough to present the prestigious award to Joyce. She spoke about how important it is to profile and recognize women business owners who have grown their business and overcome challenges. “Joyce Groote’s entrepreneurial journey illustrates the persistence and resilience needed to succeed as a business owner.”

In her remarks, Groote spoke about her personal and business experiences. She said that though she had a strong science background, she realized very early in her career that she was entrepreneurially-minded. After purchasing Holeys Canada, she developed a strategic business plan and turned it around into a very successful venture. In 2006, Holeys was identified by Profit magazine as the fastest growing entrepreneurial company in Canada. She said that there have been many learnings along the way and added, “you can be a passive bystander or grab an opportunity.” Joyce shared three important life lessons for women business owners:

  • There is no forever in life. It is important to reinvent as there is constant change.
  • Reach out for support. There are different support organizations like Women’s Enterprise Centre, Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, and TEC Canada that can help provide resources and mentors.
  • Failures lead to bigger things. Even if things do not work out as planned, there is always a silver lining.

WEC is proud to have Joyce Groote as its board chair, helping direct the organization which provides women entrepreneurs in BC with capital, training, business advice, mentoring and other key resources to realize their business potential.

Other 2014 IWIB winners are Barbara Dunfield (CFO, Sennen Potash Corporation); Dana Hayden (Senior Associate, Hill & Knowlton and President, Hayden Consulting Services); Barbara Kaminsky (CEO, Canadian Cancer Society); and Laurie Schultz (President and CEO, ACL Services). Barbara Brink, the VP at Applied Strategies Ltd, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The IWIB awards celebrate outstanding business women in BC who have made significant impact on Canadian economy and have emerged through the ranks to become influential women leaders in public and private companies. The winners also make a great change to the next generation of women entrepreneurs by mentoring other women in business. Women’s Enterprise Centre is pleased to continue its sponsorship of the IWIB awards.

Creating Social Change Through Business

Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) is pleased to be a sponsor of Social Venture Institute (SVI) Women in Vancouver - a conference for women leaders who are committed to creating social change through business. The conference is presented by Hollyhock and will take place at SFU Woodward’s on April 29 through May 1. The conference will provide participants with an intensive, interactive inquiry into facing the day-to-day challenges and rewards of running their enterprise. Open to entrepreneurs, consultants and non-profit leaders, SVI seeks to not only build capacity within the sector, but also to create strong networks for ongoing support amongst the participants.

This year’s program includes keynote talks from Konda Mason, of Hub Oakland and Maggie Leithead of Vancouver’s own successful In addition, workshops, panel discussions, access to business advisors and live business case studies will round out this hands-on learning conference. WEC will be presenting a workshop “The Power of One – A Sales Workshop” and have business advisors available at the event.

The conference requires an application. Scholarships are available for those who need assistance with the $575 registration cost. Click here for more information.

Take Your Business to the Next Level with E-Series

Network and learn from top notch business leaders in the Forum for Women entrepreneurs (FWE) E-Series program. The sessions, over a three day period, include topics such as Staffing for Success, Growth Strategies, Governance, Customer Acquisition, Marketing + PR and more. Engage with experienced business owners and speakers to discuss important business issues. The E-Series participants will also get the opportunity to receive mentorship under HSBC Mentor Program. In partnership with Teck Resources, a limited number of grants are also being offered to participants to cover the program tuition, travel and accommodation, and inclusion into the HSBC Mentor Program.

This year, the program is being held from April 8 to April 11. To learn more about the upcoming E-Series program click here.

Meet 2014 SBBC Award Winners

Women’s Enterprise Centre congratulates winners of 11th annual SBBC awards. The winners and the participants in the contest represent B.C.'s growing small business sector. The awardees included Christina Platt of Bamboletta Dolls,who won the Best Community Impact award. Bamboletta Dolls employs women in creating the hand crafted dolls. Click here to meet all 2014 SBBC award winners.

Diversify Your Market

Are you thinking about strategies to increase your sales? Exporting can be a key to your growth. Attend this free webinar to learn about the benefits of diversifying your market and strategies to accomplish it successfully. Click here for details


Is it Time for a Business Fitness Test?

Are you profitable? What’s your cash flow? Sign up for the financial bootcamp in Victoria. Learn how to get started and keep score on the health and performance of your business. Understand the importance of record keeping and key ratios to watch in your balance sheet, profit and loss statement and cash flow statement, as well as tax planning tips and some government programs that may help your business.

Join us on March 4th in Victoria for expert advice from KPMG followed by a networking lunch. Click here for registration and details

WEC Helps Celebrate Influential Women in Business

Women’s Enterprise Centre is pleased to be a sponsor of Business in Vancouver's Influential Women in Business (IWIB) Awards. The IWIB awards celebrate outstanding business women in BC who have made significant impact on the Canadian economy and have emerged through the ranks to become influential women leaders in public and private companies. The winners also make a great change to the next generation of women entrepreneurs by mentoring other women in business.

The awards will be held at The Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver on March 5. Click here to register for the event.

Premier’s Women’s Economic Council

BC Premier Christy Clark has announced the creation of a new Premier’s Women’s Economic Advisory Council (PWEC). The council will offer advice to the government on strategies, actions and policy changes to improve and expand business opportunities for women in key sectors. Representing various regions and industries, the council has been appointed by the premier. Women’s Enterprise Centre congratulates WEC mentor Shauna Harper on being appointed to the council.
For more information click here

BDC Entrepreneurship Awards

Entrepreneurship drives economy. In partnership with some key business organizations, BDC has launched four awards to recognize successful Canadian entrepreneurs.

  •  BDC Mentorship Award: Nominations are now open for BDC Mentorship Award, offered in partnership with the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. The award recognizes a business mentor who has made a significant commitment of time and effort, and is credited by their peers for having provided valuable advice and support in building their mentees’ professional skills and abilities.
  •  BDC Innovation Award: In partnership with Canada’s Venture Capital Association, the award recognizes innovation in an early stage company. Nominations opened mid February.
  • BDC Entrepreneurial Resiliency Award: This award recognizes a Canadian company that has overcome challenges and made a remarkable turnaround. Nominations open mid March.
  • BDC Entrepreneurship Champion: This award recognizes a Canadian who has launched successful businesses thereby making a remarkable contribution to the economy.

For detailed information on these awards, click here

Get the Inside Scoop on TELUS Supplier Diversity Program

Are you looking to expand your business? Attend this webinar on February 26 to learn about the TELUS Supplier Diversity Program and how to become a supplier. The webinar will discuss key points of online registration and also provide helpful hints on developing a relationship with TELUS. Click here to register for the webinar.

Getting certified by WEConnect Canada can open doors for women entrepreneurs. Women's Enterprise Centre is the WeConnect regional partner for BC, providing site assessments required for certification. For additional information on becoming a certified WBE and connecting to top tier buyers from major corporations, contact: Kath Britton, Business Advisor at Women’s Enterprise Centre at

Are You Ready to Enter the Dragon’s Den?

Get your elevator pitch ready for Dragon’s Den auditions that are happening across BC. They will take place in Abbotsford on February 21st and in Vancouver on February 22nd.You can also apply to appear on the program online. Click here for more details


Diversity Matters – A Business Strategy

Diversity is more than a human rights issue. It is a profitable business strategy. Join us in Kelowna on January 29 or February 11 to learn how to use diversity to grow your business.

Women's Enterprise Centre, in partnership with the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and KPMG are pleased to present this FREE interactive workshop, “Businesses of Tomorrow: Profiting from Diversity” for business owners and their teams. Interested? To learn more click here

Mentorship BC Goes Mobile

Mentors can provide not only practical insights on running a business by sharing their skills and experience, but provide emotional support as well. A mentor may be your key to success.

If you want to explore different mentoring programs in BC, the recently launched Mentorship BC website is your “go to” place. Use the search tool to access a list of mentoring programs to find out what best suits your business needs. The resource was created following the provincial government’s discussion with 35,000 small businesses. Now there is also a mobile version of the website for your smartphones or tablets.

Learn more about Women’s Enterprise Centre mentoring program by clicking here.

2014: Entrepreneurial Women Lead the Charge

The rank of women entrepreneurs is growing! A study “Growing Under the Radar: An Exploration of the Achievement of Million-Dollar Women-Owned firms” has found that number of women-owned businesses with $10 million or more in revenues has increased by more than 50 percent over the past decade.Venture capitalists have also increased their investment in women owned businesses. According to Pitchbook, a venture capital research firm, women founded companies are making big progress in attracting venture capital .

Click here for an informative article on “11 reasons 2014 will be a breakout year for women entrepreneurs.”


Are You Up For “The Challenge”?

Winner of StartUP Canada ‘s 2012 Canadian Mentorship Challenge, Women's Enterprise Centre is again participating in the event to help mentor 10,000 entrepreneurs during Global Entrepreneurship Week, November 18 – 24, 2013. We are participating in this initiative by offering fun and exciting ways for women entrepreneurs, throughout the province, to have access to experienced mentors.

Join any or all of the following events we are hosting throughout Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Free Phone-in Forum
Be Fit – Work Well! Without a fit you, your small business may not survive! Learn how to create an action plan and develop strategies to promote wellness in your small business. Join us for this FREE interactive phone-in session on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 10am to get tips and advice from a panel of experts that will propel your business forward. Click here to learn more.

Twitter Chat
What are some of the mentoring best practices? What are some of the key concepts of mentoring? Talk to us on Twitter on November 21 at 1.30pm for a chat on the subject. Use Hashtag #WECMENTOR

Live Speed Mentoring
Women’s Enterprise Centre is hosting a speed mentoring event in Victoria to help mentor women entrepreneurs in Victoria. Several experienced women business owners will be available to respond to your burning business questions.


Canadian Youth Business Foundation is now accepting 85 eligible applications for their mentoring-only offering – CYBF moMENTum in 2014. The program is available to young and emerging entrepreneurs, 18 to 39 years old, who are starting or have been running a business for less than three years. The program is open to students as well. Click here to learn more about the program.

New Funding Initiative is a ‘WINN’er

A new funding program “Western Innovation (WINN) Initiative” was launched on October 25th to help small and medium-sized companies get their innovative products and services to the market. The program will provide a boost to companies who are keen to commercialize their products and services. Click here to learn in detail about the program.

Congratulations to the Esteem team!!!

The mother/daughter team of Florenda Pickett & Angela O'Brien of Esteem Lingerie in Kelowna have been named one of the 2013 Small Business Champions by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. Ten organizations were selected from more than 700 submissions across the country. Winners were selected on how well their entries reflected entrepreneurial spirit and community involvement.
Both women have been peer mentors for the Women's Enterprise Centre. They have not only built up a sustainable, profitable business but also shared their business skills with other women through WEC’s peer mentoring program.

Mompreneurs – You’ll Want to Hear This!

Women’s Enterprise Centre Business Advisor Kath Britton was recently featured as a panelist ona CBC panel discussion on Mompreneurs. Listen to what Kath and other panelists had to say about balancing motherhood with successful entrepreneurship. Click here to listen in to this informative discussion.

Opening Doors for Women Entrepreneurs

WEConnect Canada's two day national conference brought together over 280 certified women owned businesses (WBEs) and corporate supplier diversity officers at its annual “Opening Doors’ conference on November 4 & 5, 2013 in Toronto. The event provided opportunities for women entrepreneurs to meet with senior procurement managers from Walmart,Telus, Kellogg, TD Bank, BMO, RBC, Accenture, Major League Baseball, General Motors, Boeing and dozens of other corporations who value supply chain diversity and are actively seeking women owned businesses as contractors. Walmart announced their intention to double their purchasing internationally from women-owned businesses through their Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative and an accompanying buy local program to accommodate smaller suppliers and contractors’ access to opportunities with the retailer. Walmart had 10 buyers at the event to connect with WBEs. Other corporate partners also had multiple buyers to enable meetings and provide specific information on their buying processes.

The working sessions consisted of a corporate track, where the firms could share best practices in identifying, mentoring and engaging diversity suppliers; and a WBE track, which provided valuable insights into leveraging certification effectively and several impressive success stories. Opening Doors also presented several Supplier Diversity Awards and a 90-second entrepreneur 'Pitch' contest. Vancouver's Marla Kott, founder of Imprint Plus was honoured with 2013 Winner of WBE Ambassador Award, while another BC delegate, Renee Safrata of Vivo Team Consulting won the Pitch competition. RBC was selected as the Corporate Member of the Year, while Deborah Quade of Kellogg was named Corporate Leader of the Year.

Women's Enterprise Centre is the WeConnect regional partner for BC, providing site assessments required for certification. For additional information on becoming a certified WBE and connecting to top tier buyers from major corporations, contact: Kath Britton, Business Advisor at Women’s Enterprise Centre at


It’s BACK!! Canadian Mentorship Challenge 2013

Women’s Enterprise centre is looking for your support! Winners of the inaugural 2012 Canadian Mentorship Challenge, WEC will be participating in the 2013 Mentorship challenge again.
We are participating in this initiative by offering fun and exciting ways for women entrepreneurs, throughout the province, to have access to experienced mentors.


  • November 20 - Victoria Speed Mentoring Event
  • November 20 - Mentor Advisory Forum : Be Fit – Work Well
  • November 21-1.30 PM ( PST) - Twitter Chat on Mentoring Best Practices-Use Hashtag #WECMENTOR

Get all the answers to your burning business questions by joining any or all of the events!
Hosted this year jointly by Startup Canada and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation, the Canadian Mentorship Challenge is a nation-wide challenge to help mentor 10,000 entrepreneurs during Global Entrepreneurship Week and recognize some of Canada’s greatest Mentor Rock Stars. In 2012, WEC Mentor Cathy Kuzel was named a Startup Canada Mentor Rock Star!

Get Inspired! Download These Free Guides

Our newly designed “Taking the Leap to Entrepreneurship” and “Starting Your Business” resource guides are available now for free download from our website. The guides will help explain what you need to know in order to start a business and where you can find resources to support you. The resource guides also feature inspirational BC women who share their own stories.

Diversity is Good for Business

To promote diversity in the workplace, staff from Women’s Enterprise Centre will be holding workshops in Kelowna and Kamloops in the coming months. In partnership with Kelowna Community Resources and Kamloops Immigrant Services these workshops are available to business owners/managers and also to staff in the not-for-profit sector. A diverse workplace grows your Company’s culture and competitive advantage. The facilitators will help participants identify and create strategies to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

Opening Doors to Business growth

If you are looking for opportunities to grow your business, WEConnect Canada‘s annual national conference “OPENING DOORS” is the one for you! To help women business owners access growth markets, this 2 day conference will feature matchmaker meetings with corporate representatives and other events.
Click here
to learn more

Don’t Miss the mSummit

Connect and network with inspiring moms at the mSummit event in Vancouver on November 16 , 2013. The summit will feature marketing guru Arlene Dickinson from Dragon’s Den as well as inspirational speakers in career and business development and lifestyle inspiration.

Click here for more information


2015 Women’s World Cup – An Opportunity for Women Business Owners to Shine

When Canada hosts the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015, the event will showcase the talent of the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team. It will also provide an opportunity for women business owners to shine. Approximately $150-200 million will be spent in total on the project. Of that, roughly $80-100 million will be spent in procurement of goods and services by the organizing committee, the international football (soccer) federations, their sponsors and suppliers.

Women’s Enterprise Centre is working with Aileen McManamon of Vancouver-based 5T Sports Group to create a legacy from the project and secure an economic development initiative for women business owners. Speaking about the proposed initiative McManamon said, “Women’s Enterprise Centre is an advocate of supplier diversity. Public sector procurement and publicly funded events are ideal platforms for expanding this highly beneficial business practice in Canada.” The Toronto 2014 PanAm Games Committee has enacted a strong supplier diversity program, working in collaboration with WeConnect Canada and CAMSC, and to date, women-owned businesses have secured 97 contracts with a total value of $3.95 million dollars. “Supplying an international event is an incredible reference client for a small business. It opens up new business relationships and boosts confidence to pursue bigger fish. It also often represents a company’s first international business deal,” McManamon added. Laurel Douglas, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre said, “We are keen to support the development of the woman-owned business supply chain for the Women’s World Cup as a model program for accelerated supplier diversity in BC by both public and private sector organizations.”

The project involves reaching out to women entrepreneurs with products and services typically required by large sporting events such as catering, A/V services and temporary event staffing agencies, and helping them connect with the various purchasers who will be ‘on the ground’ in Canada beginning in 2014.

If you need more information, please send an email to

Reality TV Show Helps Businesses “The Hard Way”

Watch how 12 businesses in Victoria will face their challenges and get back on track with the help of 4 top business leaders in the community. The show will feature these struggling businesses with their real problems and help them make the necessary changes to overcome their challenges. Our Skills Development Manager, Dawn McCooey is a guest Mentor on the show. Dawn brings in more than 20 years of experience in the adult training and development field. As owner of a career consulting company for over 18 years, Dawn managed up to 32 employees in three offices and was voted “Best boss in Victoria”.

The Hard Way is airing on CHEK. Click here for more information and show timings.

What are the Top 10 Networking Challenges?

Networking experts Gayle Rezac and Judy Thomson, whose company, Shepa Learning is a member of the WEC Affiliate Community, recently conducted a survey to find out more about networking challenges. When the authors of Work The Pond! produced their 500th free Positive Networking® Tip+, they figured they should ask their readers about their specific networking challenges. The response was excellent, and people shared openly concerns about anxiety around networking, feeling they weren't 'bringing enough to the table' and fear of approaching people. These were the biggest challenges:

Top Ten Networking Challenges
1. Being shy or introverted
2. Getting up the nerve to speak to strangers
3. Breaking into a group
4. Small talk
5. Awkward encounters
6. Exiting conversations gracefully
7. Time and cost to network
8. Finding appropriate events
9. Maintaining the relationship
10. Thinking you don’t have much to contribute

Top Ten Networking Challenges Answered

Gayle and Judy picked the top 10 networking challenges and answered them in a free e-book, Top Networking Challenges Solved! If some of these solutions would be helpful for you or someone you know, you can download the guide for free, and share this link with your colleagues.

You can also sign up to receive a weekly free Positive Networking® Tip+, by clicking here

Save the Date

WEConnect Canada‘s annual national conference “OPENING DOORS” will be held in Toronto on November 4 & 5. This important 2 day series conference will feature matchmaker meetings with corporate representatives and other events to help women business owners access growth markets.
Prepare and maximize your OPENING DOORS experience by attending the webinar On October 16. For details click here


Could You be a Business Award Winner? Here are Top Ten Tips

Have you been nominated or considered nominating yourself for a business award but weren’t sure how to leverage the opportunity? At the “Embracing Awards Opportunities” seminar in Vancouver on June 6, 2013 several women award winners, nominees and judges came together to discuss what it takes to write a winning submission. The seminar was an initiative of The WEB - an Alliance of Women's Business Networks

Below are their top ten tips:

  • Awards are your unique marketing opportunity. So Apply!
  • Collaborate! It is Crucial
  • Select your category carefully
  • Tell your story
  • Do not be shy
  • Be Professional in your submission
  • Follow the guidelines
  • Do due diligence
  • Use feedback to fine tune your submission
  • Celebrate your nomination

Click here to read more.

Taking the Leap to Entrepreneurship Mentoring Program - APPLY NOW!

This program is designed for B.C. women who are in the early stages of operating their business. There is a steep learning curve and often issues of finding work-life balance in those first few years of starting your business and our Mentoring Program is designed to help you to overcome some of these challenges.

With a solution-based approach, Peer Mentoring Groups meet six times over a six- month period to offer new ideas and feedback on your current business challenges. Our Peer Mentoring Program brings new entrepreneurs together with experienced women business owners to create successful mentoring relationships. With our network of 150 mentors in various communities throughout the province, Women’s Enterprise Centre was the winner of Startup Canada’s 2012 Canadian Mentorship Challenge, a national initiative to mentor 10,000 Canadian entrepreneurs during Global Entrepreneurship Week, November 12 - 18, 2012.

Peer mentoring groups will be launched in Vancouver, Victoria, Burnaby, Kamloops, Vernon and more!

For more program details, click here.
Apply online today!

Want to sell more? Join an Online Marketplace!

An online presence gives you the ability to reach your customers 24/7 with the information they need to make a decision. Research shows that customers are more likely to research online before purchasing offl¬ine.

Recognizing this, Women’s Enterprise Centre has partnered with to provide Vancouver Island clients an opportunity to join a free online storefront and access to Diggit’s community of shoppers. Click on this link to take advantage of this offer and follow the link to the sign up page. This is totally free, so join the online marketplace now.

Women’s Enterprise Centre Honoured at the Women Transforming Cities Event

At the recent “Best Practices Awards 2013” event in Vancouver, Women’s Enterprise Centre was the proud recipient of a finalist certificate for ‘Best Practice in Leadership’. This acknowledged our work in delivery of the “Taking the Stage®” program that was developed by Toronto-based The Humphrey Group to help women become strong, confident leaders. More than 200 women in BC participated in the program.

The certificate was received by Laurel Douglas, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre and entrepreneur Jennifer Deane, WEC volunteer Taking the stage ® facilitator.

The “Best Practice” awards have been instituted by a Vancouver based organization “Women Transforming Cities.” The awards recognize outstanding achievements designing cities for the advancement of women and girls.

New Economic Advisory Council for Women in BC

BC Premier Christy Clark has announced creation of a new Premier’s Women’s Economic Advisory Council. The council will provide feedback and suggestions on how government can improve and accelerate business opportunities for women. The announcement was made at a Women’s Executive Network meeting in Vancouver.

About 37% of self employed in BC are women.


Okanagan’s First Cash Mob is a Resounding Success

Flash mobs, a seemingly random group of people who spontaneously break into a brief performance of music, dance or theatre in a public location, and then disperse, have been springing up all over the world lately. Another trend which is gaining popularity is crowdfunding, where people’s projects and ventures get funded through large numbers of people committing small amounts of cash investments, often over the internet.

Building on the popularity of flash mobs and crowdfunding, a new model has emerged: the ‘cash mob’, where people gather at an appointed time to make mass purchases from a struggling business, giving it a much-needed cash injection.

Okanagan’s first cash mob, organized by Westbank and District Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Rapid Time Networks , took over a local business last month as the residents came together to support Ellen Melcosky of “Little Miss Chief” Gourmet Products. The community rallied to support Ellen as her business has suffered financially due to family reasons.

Ellen and her products are well known throughout the local area, and her products are loved by customers all over Canada and Europe. Ellen has won numerous awards including BC Aboriginal Business Awards Achiever in 2009 and the 2010 National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Business and Commerce.

Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) is a proud supporter of Ellen’s business and provided her the financing she needed to start and grow her business. WEC has featured Ellen and her Little Miss Chief products in several publications and articles.

The cash mob brought in about $2000 for the business. This may be the first cash mob in BC, but, given this province’s spirit of support for entrepreneurship, we doubt that it will be the last!

Embracing Awards Opportunities Seminar

Have you been nominated or considered nominating yourself for a business award but weren’t sure how to leverage the opportunity? Join like-minded women entrepreneurs and business professionals in this seminar to learn how to embrace the nomination opportunity.
Attend this seminar to:

  • discover how you can use an award nomination to benefit your business
  • identify ways you can write a winning nomination by choosing the right award categoryand engaging people to help you
  • learn from panelists who have been nominees, winners and judges.

Get inspired and learn how to leverage awards for you and/or your business! Click here to register

More Women on Corporate Boards

A new advisory council to promote the participation of women on public and private corporate boards was announced last month by the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women.

The role of the advisory council includes providing advice on increasing women's representation on corporate boards, track and measure progress in this field and make recommendations on recognizing and appreciating companies that have met their targets.

The advisory council’s recommendations will be available by the fall of 2013.


Investing in Women Entrepreneurs

Although women start businesses at a higher rate than men, male-owned businesses experience higher growth. For years, statistics have shown that women entrepreneurs face certain barriers in their business growth including access to capital, financial acumen and lack of business skills The Lang & O'Leary Exchange program on CBC TV discussed some of these issues in a segment on “Women in Business” in its telecast on April 16, 2013. The program featured an interview with Catherine Ludgate, Manager of Vancity Community Foundation. To view the program, click here.

Government Electronic Tendering Service is Moving

Government Electronic Tendering Service has a new home. The Government of Canada is moving it from MERX to on June 1, 2013.

No subscription is required. Free and anonymous single window access to federal government tenders and procurement data are some of the benefits of the new site. On June 1, 2013, suppliers must go to to check for amendments to any tender opportunities that they have been following on MERX prior to June 1. Click here to learn more.


WEC’s Dawn McCooey Gets Real on The Hard Way TV Show

Our Skills Development Manager, Dawn McCooey is helping businesses get on track as a guest mentor on a new Reality TV show “The Hard Way”.  The show will feature 12 struggling businesses with their real problems and help them make the necessary changes to get on track. Dawn brings in more than 20 years of experience in the adult training and development field. As owner of a career consulting company for over 18 years, Dawn managed up to 32 employees in three offices and was voted “Best boss in Victoria”.
The Hard Way will air this September on CHEK TV.


Business is increasingly global, which for Canadian companies means both increased opportunities in new markets, customers and production locations, and an increase in foreign competition operating within Canada. Join us for this FREE interactive phone-in session on April 24, 2013 to learn about strategies to sell and succeed in the international marketplace. Featuring our panel of experts, this seminar will enlighten, entertain and motivate you to explore the opportunities of going international.

Click here to learn more and register

Applications Called for Spin Master Innovation Fund

Canadian Youth Business Foundation and Spin Master Ltd. have joined hands for the third consecutive year to offer financing, mentoring and more, to entrepreneurs through the Spin Master Innovation Fund.
Ten innovative start-ups will receive:

  • up to $50,000 in financing;
  • two years of business mentoring;
  • an exclusive innovation workshop;
  • expert advice from Spin Master executives; and
  • access to helpful business resources & CYBF’s community of over 5,000 members.

Application deadline is May 21. To learn more click here.


Announcing New Dates for Business Growth Workshops

Mark your calendar! The hands-on, Grow Your Business Workshop Series will now take place on April 8,9,15,16,22,23. Take advantage of the marketing, financial and human resource experts who are providing you with six days of valuable training. Women’s Enterprise Centre is excited to partner with Thompson Rivers University Open Learning to offer the “Grow Your Business” workshop series.

This series is open to both male and female entrepreneurs. The cost is $1500 plus applicable taxes. However, you may be eligible for government funding under the Micro-Business Training Pilot Program (“MBT Program”). Small business owners may receive up to $1500 of government funding for training programs in general business skills. To be eligible, you must run a business with fewer than 5 employees, have no provincially, nationally or internationally recognized certifications, and no university or post-secondary degree or diploma.

After completing the workshop, you can engage in a six month peer mentoring group and take advantage of free one-to-one professional business advising services. Visit for more information on eligibility or contact Kaitlyn at 1.800.643.7014 ext 112 or by email at

Welcome to Jeanette Jackson - FWE’s New CEO

Women’s Enterprise Centre welcomes Jeanette Jackson as the new CEO of FWE. An experienced entrepreneur, Jeanette started and built a successful Vancouver-based technology company, and then acquired and built a specialty manufacturing business. An innovative leader, she has wide experience in marketing, finance, business development and operations. As the new CEO of FWE, she will provide support and leadership to the entrepreneurial community.

Virtual Tradeshow on Export-Import

Are you planning to start or grow your business in International trade? Small Business BC is holding a day of Export- Import virtual tradeshow on April 18, 2013 which will include live trade seminars. Do not miss the opportunity to network with more than 30 organizations from public and private sectors. Experts will be available through live chat and webinar.

Click here for more details

Is Your Business Ready for Return to PST?

BC will return to provincial sales tax (PST) on April 1, 2013 and you will need to register for PST in order to start collecting the tax. The registration process will take about 10 to 20 minutes.
You can register:
Online using eTaxBC
In person
By mail or fax
For more information click here

New Program to Support Immigrant Entrepreneurs

The new Start-Up Visa Program will help innovative immigrant entrepreneurs to boost economic growth. The pilot program will run for up to five years. It will match immigrant entrepreneurs with experienced private sector organizations that have expertise in working with start-ups. The Program will open for applications on April 1, 2013.
Click here
for details about the program.

Have you considered South-South Trade? FREE Webinar

If you are thinking of exploring new markets, emerging nations in Asia, Latin America, and Africa provide many opportunities. Attend this free webinar to join Export Development Canada and their panel of international experts to get insights into the benefits of South-South trade. The webinar will be held on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.
Click here
to register


You may be Eligible for Free BusinessTraining!

The Micro-Business Training Pilot Program (“MBT Program”) is being offered by different training institutions across the province. Eligible small business owners can receive up to $1500 of government funding for training programs in general business skills. To be eligible, you must run a business with fewer than 5 employees, have no provincially, nationally or internationally recognized certifications, and no university or post-secondary degree or diploma. For full details and to apply, visit

Under the MBT Program, Women’s Enterprise Centre is excited to partner with Thompson Rivers University Open Learning to offer the “Grow Your Business” workshop series. Covering six topics in six days, this series will provide you with skills in marketing, growth strategy development, financial understanding, employee retention and more. These workshops will help you turn your dreams for business growth into a doable action plan.

After completing the workshops, you can participate in a six month peer mentoring group and take advantage of free one-to-one professional business advising services.

Day 1: Growing Your Business so it's Right for YOU!
Feel confident that you are making the right decisions to help fuel growth in your business. Understand where to focus your energy and learn how to increase sales or profits by utilizing innovative new products and services, or by building your customer base.
Day 2: Setting New Goal Posts: Growing Your Business from a Tactical Perspective
Identify your business strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and learn how to use these to create strategies to reach your business vision and success.
Day 3: Focused Marketing
Understand the "why" of marketing; the strategy behind your marketing tactics. Your marketing methods are only as effective as the strategy behind them.
Day 4: Power of One: Sales Workshop
Learn how to kick-start your sales strategy. Look at your sales practices and how daily activities impact overall results.
Day 5: Financial Management
De-mystify financial language and better understand how to read the financial health of your business. Learn the basic financial principles required for daily business decisions.
Day 6: Keeping Good Employees on Board
The best competitive edge you can gain in business is engaged and productive employees. Learn how to measure engagement, create rewards that fit your budget and become an employer of choice.

This series is open to both male and female entrepreneurs. The cost is $1500 plus HST.
Stay tuned for the upcoming dates of the workshop series.

6 New Ways to Expand Your Business Knowledge

Women’s Enterprise Centre is pleased to introduce some new business resources to help you succeed and grow your business.
These business-oriented products have been produced by WEC mentors, volunteers and board members, and are available through our Business Marketplace. Currently, we have six(6) authors, including: Jen DeTracey; Dawn McCooey; Sandra Miles; Marilyn Strong; Judy Thomson; and Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba. Each author’s book /CD is focused on solving business problems faced by women entrepreneurs including: Human Resources, Marketing, Networking and General Business challenges .

We hope you’ll take a look at the new section here and when you see a ‘must have’ resource, please click on the link to buy it!

Upcoming Mentor Advisory Forum - Opportunity Knocks! Bidding on Government of Canada Contracts

Are you interested in learning about the Government of Canada’s evaluation process for contracting opportunities? Attend our FREE upcoming Mentor Advisory Forum on “Opportunity Knocks! Bidding on Government of Canada Contracts” from your home or office and get tips and advice from a panel of experts. Send us your questions, concerns, challenges and then join us on March 5 by phone from anywhere in the province to participate in the session.
To get detailed information on this upcoming Mentor Advisory Forum and to register for this exciting, free service, click here


Women’s Enterprise Centre congratulates board director Sue Adams on being elected as Chair of Whistler Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
A successful entrepreneur, Sue Adams is a recent recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal, in recognition of her significant achievements and distinguished service to her community.

You Could Win the $100,000 BDC Grand Prize

Are you a young entrepreneur with a company at a crossroad? If you are between 18 and 35, and believe you have the solution to take your business to the next level, you could win $100,000 from the Business Development Bank of Canada The BDC Young Entrepreneur Award recognizes remarkable young Canadian entrepreneurs.
The application must be submitted by April 2, 2013 at noon, Eastern Daylight Time. For more information or to apply, visit

Minerva Foundation’s Leadership Development Program-Apply Now

The Minerva Foundation is accepting applications for 2013 Learning to Lead TM BC program. It will be held in Vancouver on May 24 – 26, 2013. New and transitioning professionals as well as graduate and post-baccalaureate students with at least 3 years of professional experience are invited to apply.

The last date to submit applications is March 11, 2013. Click here to learn more about the program.


Women’s Enterprise Centre teams up with the Chamber Learning Network

Women’s Enterprise Centre is partnering with the BC Chamber of Commerce’s Chamber Learning Network (CLN) through their Micro-Business Training Program (MBT). MBT provides $1500 of government funding to improve small business efficiency and productivity through skills training. Entrepreneurs and their staff may be eligible for the funding and Women’s Enterprise Centre is one of the approved companies that is offering business training.

If you need to acquire some new skills to help you run your business, and would like to access the monies through the Micro-Business Training Program, check out the Chamber Learning Network. For a list of courses that Women’s Enterprise Center is offering through the CLN, go to

Launch of “1000” Stories! Are You One of Them?

In order to understand the unique challenges that women entrepreneurs face, The Story Exchange, a non-profit global video project has launched “1000 stories.” The stories will feature women entrepreneurs globally from startups to big businesses. The project aims at understanding women business owners’ challenges and providing them media exposure. Tell your story to be considered for the 1,000 Stories Campaign. Click here to share your story.

Women’s Enterprise Centre wants to know about your entrepreneurial story in BC. What motivated you to take the leap to entrepreneurship and make a difference in your community? Submit your story for the opportunity to be considered for a feature on our website. Email for details.

Sue Adams, Director of the Board of Women’s Enterprise Centre, Honoured with Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal

Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) congratulates WEC board member Sue Adams on being awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for Outstanding Volunteer work. The award is in recognition of her significant achievements and distinguished service to her community.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal program was created to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne, as well as to honor significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.

Congratulations on being Nominated for the Successful You Awards

Women’s Enterprise Centre congratulates WEC clients Michelle Miazga and Kyla Ray, Port+Quarter, Vancouver, WEC Mentor Madeleine Shaw and Suzanne Siemens, Lunapads International, Vancouver, WEC Mentor Trisha Miltimore, Contagious Leadership Training, Kelowna, and Melonie Dodaro, Top Dog Social Media, Kelowna on being nominated for the Small Business BC’s Successful You Awards. While Port + Quarter was nominated in the “Best Concept” category, Lunapads International was nominated for the “Best Community Impact”, Contagious Leadership Training and Top Dog Social Media were among the top ten finalists in the “Best Online Marketer.”

Visit the Successful You website to find out more about the top 10 finalists.

What Role Does Confidence Play in Your Business?

For years, statistics have shown that although women start businesses at a higher rate than men, male-owned businesses experience higher sales and have more employees.

Now, new research is being conducted into what’s behind those numbers.

Dr. Lynn Sparling, a professor with Okanagan College’s Okanagan School of Business, has received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to conduct research into barriers to growth and confidence levels for both men and women entrepreneurs throughout B.C.

The results could assist in reshaping both the gross domestic product and job growth, especially considering women-owned businesses already generate more than $117-billion in economic activity.

“The key question I’ll be looking at is whether entrepreneurial self-confidence plays a role,” Sparling said.

“We are very happy that Dr. Sparling is leading this research,” said Laurel Douglas, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre. “It’s vitally important that we understand the role self -confidence plays in helping women entrepreneurs grow their business,” said Douglas., “especially since 37% of all small businesses in BC are started by women and we want that number to grow.”

The results of the research will help Women’s Enterprise Centre with their programs – particularly the Taking the Leap to Entrepreneurship Mentoring Program, which is both nationally and internationally recognized.

“What I've seen with women entrepreneurs is that there is so much more potential out there, and it's not being actualized,” Sparling said. “I've seen women running dynamic businesses, but they're either not growing, or choosing not to grow. So why is that? We hope to uncover some of those obstacles with this research so that women can experience greater success – however they choose to define that."

This project is being carried out in partnership with the Vancouver-based Forum for Women Entrepreneurs and Women’s Enterprise Centre, which has offices in Kelowna, Vancouver and Victoria.

Judy Brooks, Interim CEO of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE), confirms that “this project will increase the productivity and competitiveness of FWE member companies as well as partner organizations such as Women’s Enterprise Centre. The project will achieve this by identifying some of the key barriers to growth for women-owned firms, and this will allow FWE and its partners to develop and deliver programs to address those barriers.”

In-depth interviews will be carried out with business owners across B.C. starting in early December 2012, by the well-recognized Vancouver market research firm, Mustel Group. The key findings will be shared in the form of a research paper, which Sparling hopes to present at the upcoming annual conference of the Canadian Council of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, to be held in Victoria, B.C. in May 2013. Results will be shared with the SSHRC as well as other government agencies and non-profit organizations.


Taking the Leap to Entrepreneurship Mentoring Program - APPLY NOW!

From the steep learning curve to finding work-life balance, the Taking the Leap to Entrepreneurship Mentoring Program is designed to help you overcome the challenges women entrepreneurs face. If you have a desire to connect with and learn from other entrepreneurs, this program is for you! With a solution-based approach, Peer Mentoring Groups meet six times over a six-month period to offer new ideas and feedback on your current business challenges. For more program details, click here.

Apply online today!

PST Registration Begins

BC businesses can now register for provincial sales tax (PST). PST will be re-implemented on April 1, 2013. The registration process will take about 10 to 20 minutes. You can register for PST online, in person or by mail or fax.

For more information click here

Application Deadline for Cartier Women’s Initiatives Awards

The Cartier Women’s Initiatives awards are looking for exceptional women entrepreneurs leading for-profit responsible enterprises between 1 and 3 years old. Application deadline is March 8, 2013. The award recognizes women entrepreneurs who have created financially sustainable and creative start- ups. The Award will be given to six laureates who will receive a year of coaching, US$20,000 in funding, valuable networking opportunities as well as media exposure.

Click here for details of the application process.

The award was created in 2006 by Cartier in partnership with Women’s Forum, INSEAD Business School and Mckinsey & Co.


Women’s Enterprise Centre Wins the Canadian Mentorship Challenge!

Women’s Enterprise Centre, (WEC), BC’s leading resource for women entrepreneurs today received notice they had won Startup Canada’s Canadian Mentorship Challenge. The challenge was a national initiative to mentor 10,000 Canadian entrepreneurs during Global Entrepreneurship Week, November 12 - 18, 2012.

Laurel Douglas, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre was thrilled when she heard the results. “When we first heard about this contest, we wanted to profile and acknowledge our dedicated volunteer mentors who are really invested in helping less experienced business owners,” she said. “Now that we’ve won, we are honoured and extend a huge thank you to our mentors who give back to the business community,” she said.

Women’s Enterprise Centre hosts a network of more than 150 mentors across the province and provides skills development, business loans and other resource services to more than 137,000 women business owners in BC.

Douglas said, “Mentoring is a really important aspect of succeeding in business. It helps women increase their confidence, get over the feeling of isolation, helps makes sure women aren’t re-inventing the wheel and that they are getting input on their issues from someone who has already ‘been there, done that’.”

Victoria Lennox, CEO and co-founder of Start-up Canada said, “For the whole Canadian mentorship challenge, we didn’t know what we were going to get. We were absolutely blown away by Women’s Enterprise Centre’s activities.” She continued, “We also really appreciated the way Women’s Enterprise Centre brought all their events together in one presentation to show us the impact those events had on their communities.”

Douglas said, “We had an amazing team that reached women business owners all over BC through in-person events in Kelowna, Vancouver and Victoria, plus a phone-in session with mentors from Prince George and Vancouver; two Twitter Chats; a Facebook “Ask the Expert” event; , and one-to-one mentoring. Our multimedia and online activities coupled with newspaper articles, a television news broadcast and YouTube viewers engaged a total of 4,557 people in 20 communities.”

The timing of the Canadian Mentorship Challenge comes as Women’s Enterprise Centre is waiting on news of its provincial funding for this coming year.

Douglas said, “As a non-profit organization we look forward to hearing that our provincial funding request has been approved.” She continued, “Our mentoring program is so well-established and so strong. We’ve been told by people that when they are approved to enter our mentoring program, they tell us it’s like winning the lottery – that’s how much they value our program.”

When talking about Women’s Enterprise Centre’s Peer Mentoring program, Robyn Quinn one of our Victoria mentees said it best: “…[the program is] essentially a de facto Board of Directors for those of us who were working on our own and often dealing with fairly complete issues and challenges in the business, and didn’t really have anyone we could trust to go to.


Help Us Win the Canadian Mentorship Challenge!

Women's Enterprise Centre is participating in the StartUP Canada "Canadian Mentorship Challenge” to help mentor 10,000 entrepreneurs during Global Entrepreneurship Week, November 12-16, 2012. We are participating in this initiative by offering fun and exciting ways for women entrepreneurs, throughout the province, to have access to experienced mentors.


Join any or all of the events we are hosting throughout Global Entrepreneurship Week and get all the answers to your burning business questions!

Women's Enterprise Centre congratulates WEC Mentor Cathy Kuzel on being named a Startup Canada Mentor Rock Star!

Upcoming Mentor Advisory Forum - Social Media: Love it – Hate it – But you better use it if you’re in business

Your competition is gaining on you if you’re still just thinking about using social media. Find out why! Attend our FREE upcoming Mentor Advisory Forum on “Social Media: Love it – Hate it – But you better use it if you’re in business” from your home or office and get tips and advice from a panel of experts. Send us your questions, concerns, challenges and then join us by phone from anywhere in the province to get solutions and new ideas from a panel of experienced mentors.

To get detailed information on this upcoming Mentor Advisory Forum and to participate in this exciting, free service, click here

Sharon Barnes, Board Member of Women’s Enterprise Centre, Honoured with Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her Mentoring

Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) congratulates WEC board member Sharon Barnes on being awarded
the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the 2012 Canadian Youth Business Foundation Award ( CYBF) for Outstanding Volunteer work. The awards are in recognition of her expertise and dedication as a business mentor to other entrepreneurs in her community.

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal program was created to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne, as well as honoring significant contributions and achievements by Canadians. The CYBF award recognizes the exceptional role which volunteers play in helping young and emerging entrepreneurs’ careers and businesses in communities across Canada.

Resources for Transition to PST

The provincial Government has created tools and resources to help BC businesses transition to PST. These include the following:

  • Schedule one-on-one consultations with a ministry tax specialist – click here to submit a request online.
  • Call a toll-free number with questions about the new PST (1 877 388-4440).
  • Email questions to

PST will be re-implemented on April 1, 2013. A new provincial sales tax notice, General Transitional Rules for the Re-Implementation of the Provincial Sales Tax, has been issued which describes how and when PST applies to transactions that straddle April 1, 2013.

For more information click here

Nominations Open for BCBusiness Top Innovators Awards

Nominations are being accepted for BCBusiness Top Innovators awards 2013. Winners will be profiled in a special “Innovators issue” of BCBusiness magazine.


  • The company or organization must be based in B.C.
  • The innovation has to have been implemented within the past five years
  • The innovation has to be in practice, with proven results

Nominations must be submitted by December 7, 2012. Winners will be announced in late March or early April 2013.

Click here to nominate a company for the award.

Media Opportunity for Women Entrepreneurs

If you are a woman in business and have left an executive job to become an entrepreneur, you may get an opportunity to be featured in the "Everyday Hero," column in the Canadian Business magazine. The column runs twice a month, and features CEOs or founders who left senior corporate positions to follow their dreams of starting their own business.

If you are interested, contact Denise at You can learn more about this column by clicking here .


Influential Women in Business Awards

Business in Vancouver is seeking nominations for B.C.'s outstanding business women in private or public sector companies. The Influential Women in Business Awards were created to draw attention to exceptional business women in BC. Honourees are chosen based on the criteria of professional accomplishments, influence, and business community involvement.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Nominees must be based in British Columbia.
  • Nominees must be female.
  • Nominees must be available to attend the Influential Women in Business Awards Luncheon in the spring of 2013.

Nominations must be submitted by December 7, 2012. Click here to access the online nomination form


BC Women Entrepreneurs Shine Among Canada’s Top Female Entrepreneurs, 2012

PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 list of Canada's Top Female Entrepreneurs features several BC women business owners. According to, women entrepreneurs in the 14th annual list had a “combined revenue of $1.4 billion, and the 55 exporters on the list rang up $283 million in foreign sales.”

Corin Mullins of HapiFoods Group Inc. from Gibsons, British Columbia ranked 14th in the list. Her business is the fastest-growing company on the list. Amiee Chan ‘s Norsat International Inc. from Richmond, BC ranked third in the list.

The W100 were ranked by a composite of the size, growth rate and profitability of their businesses.

Click here for a complete list


Small Business Week 2012 is here!

Did you know that about 94 percent of BC residents acknowledge the contribution that women entrepreneurs make to their local communities and economy? On average, the public perceives that 3 in 10 businesses are majority owned by women in the province. The top two success indicators for women entrepreneurs are financial success and business longevity.

These were some of the findings from a survey commissioned by Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) to understand the public’s level of awareness of women entrepreneurs in BC. The survey was conducted by the Mustel group, an independent market research company.

Small Business Week, which runs from October 15-19, pays tribute to the contributions that small and medium-sized businesses make to the Canadian economy.


Join Women’s Enterprise Centre in the Canadian Mentorship Challenge

Women’s Enterprise Centre is participating in StartUP Canada’s Canadian Mentorship Challenge to help mentor 10,000 entrepreneurs during Global Entrepreneurship week (November 12-18, 2012). We are organizing a Facebook event that week featuring our network of over 150 experienced mentors across the province.

Think of your business questions and watch our Facebook page for more details.


Upcoming Mentor Advisory Forum - Use Technology to Drive Your Business Success

Small businesses can benefit greatly from implementing technology. Do you wonder about how you can grow your business by using technology? Are the different technology applications getting you confused? You can boost productivity if you know how and what technology to use in your business.

Send us your questions, concerns, challenges and then join us on October 30 by phone from anywhere in the province to get solutions and new ideas from a panel of experienced mentors.

To get detailed information on this upcoming Mentor Advisory Forum and to participate in this exciting, free service, click here


Women’s Enterprise Centre Celebrates the First International Day of the Girl

Women’s Enterprise Centre joined in the celebration of the first ever “International Day of the Girl” on October 11, 2012. The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women led the international community in adopting this day to help girls reach their full potential, realize their dreams, and participate fully in the economic, social and democratic life of their communities.

Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) has been helping girls across BC to consider entrepreneurship as a valuable career option. We recognize that mothers can be strong role models for their daughters in encouraging them to become entrepreneurs.

Women’s Enterprise Centre is proud to support businesses like Glo Apparel in Vancouver which is a successful example of mother – daughter partnership. When Alison Verrier, a dental assistant, and Marie Meeks, a fashion designer, were studying for their prospective careers, they had a moment of genius. One day, the mother and daughter were out shopping for Alison’s scrubs and they could only find baggy, ill-fitting options. They came together and decided to make their own scrubs. When people started asking Alison about her scrubs, they knew they had a business in their hands. The business has grown through a strong professional partnership between the mother and daughter. Such success stories fuel a community’s economy and society.

Laurel Douglas, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre said, “Entrepreneurship can be a significant game changer for young women. We have designed education tools to help young girls. Our Business Advisors are available to visit schools to encourage young women to consider entrepreneurship as a valuable career option.”

Recognizing the need to provide resources and support to young women, Women’s Enterprise Centre has developed special teaching resources . These include Integrated Resource Plans, Business Simulation Games, Case Studies and links to other resources. To encourage entrepreneurship among girls, WEC is collaborating with the Career Education Society (CES), a BC based non-profit organization, in its annual conference in Vancouver next month to motivate youth for career development and entrepreneurship.

More information about International Day of the Girl can be found on the website.

The Micro-Business Training Program

If you are a micro business owner over 19 years of age and have no post secondary education, you could apply for up to $1500 of funding support to develop business skills. The Micro-Business Training Pilot Program offers eligible applicants an opportunity to improve productivity by training in general business skills such as bookkeeping, marketing, social media, management and other areas. The program includes online or e-learning training options.

Click here to learn more.


Women’s Enterprise Centre Congratulates Shushma Datt on Receiving Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal

Women’s Enterprise Centre congratulates Shushma Datt, President and CEO of i.t. Media Broadcasting on being awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Commemorative Medal. The medal program was created to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne, as well as honoring 60,000 Canadians for significant contributions and achievements.

Women’s Enterprise Centre was pleased to help Datt develop her broadcasting business, starting in 1998 with a loan for working capital. Offering financial and business advisory support over the years to Datt as she developed her production company and expanded, Women’s Enterprise Centre knew they were working with a client who was headed towards success.


Jill Earthy, Former CEO of the FWE, Joins the Board of Women’s Enterprise Centre

Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) is pleased to announce that Jill Earthy, former CEO of Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE) has joined WEC's board as a director. An experienced entrepreneur with an MBA, Jill has a strong reputation for helping women succeed and excel in their business. Welcoming her to the organization, Tammy Moore, Chair of the board of Women’s Enterprise Centre, said, “As a director on the board for Women's Enterprise Centre, Jill will bring a fresh perspective to the organization.”

Jill launched a national event staffing company in Toronto in 2001. It grew to service eight Canadian cities before she sold it in 2003. Ever the entrepreneur, she started another business in 2007, called momcafé Network. The idea for this business came through the many conversations she was having with other moms on the topic of life balance and the challenges of juggling a professional career while raising a family.

While working at building momcafé, Jill took on the role of Executive Director for the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE) in 2007. In 2011, she became the CEO of the organization, and worked towards providing resources to make female entrepreneurs a driving force in the economy.

Jill Earthy is an active volunteer in the community and sits on a number of committees. She is a co-founder of The WEB, an alliance of women’s business networks. She is a Judge for the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur of the Year Awards and has been recognized as a Business in Vancouver Top 40 under 40 (2010) as well by The International Alliance of Women (TIAW) for her support of women entrepreneurs.

Jill possesses an MBA with a focus on entrepreneurship along with a psychology degree. She lives in Vancouver with her husband and two young daughters.

Women’s Enterprise Centre and Community Futures Central Okanagan Team Up!

Women’s Enterprise Centre and Community Futures Development Corporation, Central Okanagan (CFDCCO) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to encourage inter-organizational partnerships. The decision to co-locate their offices in Kelowna will enhance business services delivery including financing and training programs to aspiring entrepreneurs in the region.

Welcoming the move, Laurel Douglas, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre said, “Women’s Enterprise Centre and CFDC, Central Okanagan have had a very collaborative relationship over the years. It is a natural progression in the interaction and partnership between the two organizations.” Larry Widmer, General Manager of CFDC, Central Okanagan added, “The MOU will make the organizations operationally more efficient.” He pointed out that strategically there are many joint venture possibilities between the two organizations.

Since 2008, the respective heads of WEC and CFDCCO have discussed strategies to provide cost effective programs to entrepreneurs in the region and have collaborated on several training programs. The MOU aims to take this partnership forward to help build a strong economy in the region.

International Day of the Girl

The United Nations has declared October 11, 2012 as the world's first International Day of the Girl Child. Canada has led the international community in adopting this day, along with the support of Plan Canada.

Throughout the world, girls face higher rates of violence, poverty and discrimination. In Canada, girls have higher rates of depression, sexual harassment and dating violence. International day of the Girl will encourage a greater understanding of girl-specific issues and promote equal treatment and opportunities for them around the world

Please visit Status of Women Canada’s website to learn more about the day.

Women’s Enterprise Centre congratulates Heather Martin on the birth of her baby boy

Heather Martin, Women’s Enterprise Centre's Skills Development Manager currently on maternity leave, is celebrating the birth of her son  Daniel.

The staff at WEC extend their best wishes to Daniel, Heather and family.




Announcing Dawn McCooey, Our New Skills Development Manager


We are excited to announce that Dawn has taken over the reins from Heather Martin, who is on maternity leave. Many of you have worked with Dawn in her capacity as a Business Advisor in our Victoria office and have benefited from her experience and incredible energy.

She is excited to help women entrepreneurs in BC achieve their business goals through our practical and applied training and mentoring programs.



May 2012

Growth Opportunity for Women Entrepreneurs

Women’s Enterprise Centre is pleased to announce a great opportunity for women entrepreneurs being spearheaded by the Vancity Community Foundation. The project is designed to reach women entrepreneurs, particularly newcomer (recent immigrant) women and Aboriginal women, who have the entrepreneurial talent and enthusiasm to scale up and grow businesses, but due to structural, programmatic or institutional/attitudinal barriers, may not have access to financial and technical supports and services to achieve that growth.

A pilot project for female entrepreneurs -- 10 to 15 -- to go through a supported process (assigned business coaches, strategic networking opportunities) to develop a business growth plan will launch next month. At the end of 6 months -- the pilot starts in June 2012 and runs through November 2012 - all entrepreneurs will make a business plan presentation/pitch for financing to a panel of Vancity and other financiers.
To learn more and to apply to be included in the pilot project, please visit the Vancity Community Foundation site .

Deadline for receiving applications is June 5, 2012.

Questions? Contact Joanne Norris for more information about the WE-FOG project.604.877.7505 or visit the Status of Women Canada website to learn more.

Hiring Credit for Small Business

The hiring credit for small business (HCSB), which intends to support small businesses and encourage employment, has been extended for 2012. The program provides relief to small business employers on their contribution of Employment Insurance (EI) premiums. If the employer’s EI premiums have increased in a year over the previous year, HCSB credits up to $1,000 on the payroll account depending on the amount of increase.

The program does not apply to individuals who pay EI premiums on their self-employed income. Please click here to learn how your business can benefit from the program.


Online Database to Assist in Connecting with Foreign Investors

B.C. Business Network members can now access OpportunitiesBC, an online searchable database of business opportunities to connect with foreign investors and potential immigrants interested in doing business in the province. The database will provide updated listings of possible opportunities to the international community in BC and connect BC Business Network members with potential foreign investors.
For more information click here or email


B.C. Techmap™ 2012 to launch in June

The B.C. Techmap™, 2012 representing the technology community in the province, will be released next month.  The Techmap is designed to facilitate strategic partnerships in the technology sector and promote economic development.

The 2012 Techmap will be interactive and display company profiles, encourage discussions with government regulators, key stakeholders, other organization and individuals. It will also include information on changes in the technology industry since 2003.

To find out more, click here.

April 2012

THANK YOU to All Our Volunteers!

It’s National Volunteer Week and the theme this year is, Volunteers: Passion. Action. Impact. Women’s Enterprise Centre would like to recognize and thank our 110 volunteers who contributed over 1710 hours of their time this past year.

You have passion to help women entrepreneurs be successful by sharing your knowledge and expertise. You take action to support women business owners by participating as board members, mentors, storytellers, panelists, guest bloggers, and facilitators. You have a significant impact on the hundreds of women who participate in our programs each year. Without our amazing volunteers we would not continue to be the leading resource for women entrepreneurs in B.C.

From everyone here at WEC, we would like to sincerely thank you, our volunteers, for the hard work and dedication that you have contributed this year!!

Tradestart to Help SMEs in BC Enter International Markets

Small Business BC
has launched the Tradestart program to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in BC become export ready. Federal funding from Western Economic Diversification of over $238,000 was announced recently to provide SMEs with a number of tools to help enter international markets. It will focus on the following:

  • Market viability and entry
  • Export strategy
  • Selling to foreign markets
  • Finance
  • Logistics
  • Rules and Regulations
  • Building International Relationships

To learn more about the program, please go to


Over $20,000 Raised in Memory of Former WEC Board Vice-Chair Kathy Barnett

The Community Foundation of Whistler raised over $20,000 at the Kathy Barnett Leadership Luncheon fundraiser in March, 2012. The endowment fund provides leadership grants to women living in the Sea to Sky Corridor who are looking to improve their skills for the betterment of the community. The call for grant applications for 2012 is scheduled to take place in early May.

The Kathy Barnett Endowment Fund was created in 2008 in memory of Kathy Barnett, board member of Women’s Enterprise Centre. A former Whistler resident, she co-founded the Pique Newsmagazine, was the Whistler Chamber’s Business Person of the Year in 2002, and an appointee to the BC provincial Ministry of Small Business and Revenue’s roundtable on small business.

WEConnect Canada Launches Mentorship Program

WEConnect Canada is seeking mentors and mentees for the 2012 mentorship program “BECOME.” Mentorship will be available to mentees who are owners of certified women business enterprises. Certification must be current and in good standing. The program will help connect mentors who have a track record of success in supplier diversity markets with mentees who need support in pursuing supplier diversity markets and other business challenges. Please click here to apply for the program.

WEConnect International will also be starting a new mentoring opportunity that will be dedicated to international relationships between UK, USA and Canada. More details on this program will be available soon.

WEConnect Canada certifies firms that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by women and connects them with the growing global demand from corporations and the public sector for diverse and innovative suppliers.

Our Victoria Office Has Moved!

Women’s Enterprise Centre Victoria office has moved to a new location. We’re now co-located with the ViaTec Community in the Scott Building at Hillside and Douglas. Free parking is available in the rear of the building off Hillside entrance. Our new address is:

2659 Douglas Street, 2nd Floor, Victoria, BC V8T 5M2
Phone: 1-800-643-7014


Program to Boost Digital Technology

The Digital Technology Adoption Pilot program (DTAPP) aims to increase the productivity of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Canada through the adoption of digital technologies. From October 2011 to March 31, 2014, about 630 SMEs will be helped to adopt digital technology. DTAPP provides SMEs with advisory services and funding.

To be considered for DTAPP eligibility, firms from any business sector must:

  • have 500 employees or less
  • be incorporated, for–profit and operate in Canada
  • be growth oriented
  • demonstrate a plan to carry out a project designed to adopt digital technologies
  • be willing to change their current operations to maximize the benefit of adopting digital technologies on their productivity

The program is being delivered by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP). To learn more, please visit

March 2012


“Getting Paid To Pay Attention” Book Launch

For many small business owners, one of the biggest problems is making sure all the hats they wear are managed effectively. Have you wondered how to manage all parts of your business effectively and avoid Business Attention Deficit Disorder?  One of our volunteer facilitators, Marilyn Strong has published a new book “Getting Paid to Pay Attention – Why Your Business Suffers From A.D.D. and How to Fix It”. Discover some amazingly simple tips that don’t cost money and uncover tools to win the game of business and overcome Business A.D.D.

Women’s Enterprise Centre congratulates Marilyn on the launch of her new book. Her book can be bought on Amazon or on her website . Buy now and get your FREE bonus - “Getting Paid to Pay Attention ACTION PLANNER” immediately!




Marilyn Strong, author of “Getting Paid to Pay Attention” and Laurel Douglas, CEO, Women’s Enterprise Centre at the book launch in Kelowna.


February 2012

Vancity Community Foundation is Recruiting Social Entrepreneurs & Aboriginal/First Nations Business Owners


Vancity Community Foundation is recruiting for two focus groups to learn more about business concerns and challenges of entrepreneurs.

1. Social entrepreneurs who have launched a socially responsible business that aims to generate profit, while addressing a social and/or environmental issue at the same time.

2. Aboriginal/First Nations business owners that are in the business growth stage.

The foundation is looking for participants who:

• Are comfortable speaking out in a small group setting
• Own or co-own a business in Metro Vancouver
• Want to expand business in the short term
• Have business in operation for at least 2 years
• Own business which has reached a point where revenue trends are identifiable and cash flow is steady
• Are confident that their business is scalable

These focus groups will be taking place in Metro Vancouver over the months of March through May 2012. All participants will receive a financial honorarium $50.00. To learn more please contact Joanne Norris at 604-877-7505 or by Wednesday February 29th, 2012.

January 2012

BC Restaurants to Provide Customers with Nutrition Information

BC restaurant owners have the opportunity to participate in the Informed Dining Program launched by the provincial government last year. Participating businesses will also be recognized through promotional and advertising campaigns coordinated by the Ministry of Health.  The program aims to provide customers with nutritional information at or before the point of ordering their food.

Participating restaurants may provide the information on a brochure, a menu insert or poster. Calorie and sodium content will be highlighted, and restaurants must also include information on daily sodium and calorie requirements. It will help customers make informed choices when choosing meals for themselves or their children.

Over 70% of restaurants in BC are small businesses with 50 or less employees.  To help these businesses, the Ministry of Health, Heart and Stroke Foundation and the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association have created a support program. The small business program provides access to expert dieticians at HealthLinkBC in completing a nutrient analysis for the standard menu items. HealthLinkBC will also provide dieticians with culinary backgrounds to help participating restaurants redesign recipes.

The Informed Dining Program has also developed a number of templates to help restaurant owners with graphic design. The Program will also supply grants of up to $300 to help with the printing of additional menus, brochures or menu boards for a limited period.

To apply for the small business support, complete and submit the Informed Dining Expression of interest Form by email or mail or fax ( 250-952-1570) a printed copy to Ministry of Health, Chronic Disease, Injury Prevention & the Built Environment, 4-2, 1515 Blanshard Street, Victoria BC  V8W 3C8  ATTN: Informed Dining.

For details about the program, please visit


November 2011

Opening Doors for Women Owned B2B Companies

WEConnect Canada held its third conference to encourage women business owners to take advantage of the growing global demand from corporations and the public sector for diverse and innovative suppliers. WEConnect Canada certifies businesses that are at least 51-per-cent owned, managed and controlled by women. Being certified increases access to international markets by giving more representation and visibility, fostering new connections, networking and mutual support. The conference was held at Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto on November 7 and 8, 2011.

Several women business leaders from BC participated as panelists in the discussions on making the concept of supplier diversity into a successful business reality in Canada. Panelists included: Michelle Pockey, Partner with Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, Barbara Mowat, President, Impact Communications Ltd., Cheryl Dawn-Smith, owner, Horty Girl, and Marla Kott, CEO, Imprint Plus.

In a report on the conference, The Globe and Mail on November 11, 2011 said, “The trend of certifying female-owned businesses has a longer history in the United States, but remains relatively new in Canada.” In an interview, Betty Wood, WEConnect Canada’s lead strategist commented, “Corporations look at it as an opportunity to meet innovative suppliers and also to reflect the marketplace,” According to the report, female-owned businesses are the fastest-growing segment of the business sector in Canada. The number of female entrepreneurs in Canada increased 208 per cent between 1981 and 2001, compared with 38 per cent for men.

The conference is very timely. In a report released this month, the Canadian Taskforce for Women’s Business Growth has called for governments at all levels to do more to support Canadian women entrepreneurs. The taskforce has detailed action strategies to mobilize this under-served segment of our economy. Its recommendations include implementing measureable supplier-diversity procurement objectives for all federal agencies and departments.

WEConnect Canada estimates that Canadian women-owned businesses comprise of less than 5% of all domestic and international suppliers to large corporations and governments. As a result women’s businesses don’t grow as quickly, big business misses out on value and innovation, and national productivity and GDP suffer. WEConnect Canada has certified about 150 companies so far.

Currently, WEConnect is the only way to formally certify that a business is majority owned, managed and controlled by women. Women's Enterprise Centre, BC's leading resource for women entrepreneurs is responsible for carrying out the site visits for the certification of BC companies on behalf of WEConnect Canada.

For more information on the program go to


Women’s Business Growth a Major Stimulus for the Canadian Economy: Call for Increased Support

The Canadian Taskforce for Women’s Business Growth is calling for governments at all levels to do more to support Canadian women entrepreneurs. Describing such efforts as an essential strategy for sustained economic growth in Canada, the Taskforce says that a 20% increase in total revenues among majority female-owned enterprises will contribute an additional $2 billion a year to the Canadian economy. The Taskforce report, entitled Action Strategies to Support Women’s Enterprise Development, was released in Toronto on November 7, 2011.

“Women-led businesses in Canada represent a huge economic opportunity for our country,” said Barbara Orser, chair of the Taskforce and Deloitte Professor at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management. “Majority women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises represent over $117 billion per annum of economic activity in Canada.” The Taskforce also reports that women-owned firms fail to grow as quickly as firms led by men. These differences are reflected in Canada’s productivity and competitiveness.

The Taskforce Action Strategies report is very timely. In September, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member countries convened their first-ever Summit on Women and the Economy, hosted by US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. The research presented at the Summit clearly demonstrated that fostering women’s economic empowerment is a sound economic strategy, both in developing and developed economies. The Summit, attended by senior government officials and other leaders from the 21 Asia Pacific economies, culminated in the signing of the San Francisco Declaration, which commits to improving women’s access to capital, access to markets, capacity and skills building, and promoting women’s leadership. The Declaration’s recommendations are expected to be adopted at the APEC Economic Leaders’ meeting later in November, which will be hosted by President Barack Obama and attended by leaders from all APEC nations, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Laurel Douglas, CEO of BC-based Women’s Enterprise Centre, is a founding member of the Taskforce on Women’s Business Growth, and was part of the 25-member Canadian delegation at the APEC Summit in September. Women’s Enterprise Centre also co-hosted the first Taskforce roundtable in Vancouver in 2010. Commenting on the Action Strategies Report, she said, “The Taskforce explored key issues associated with the growth of women-owned businesses in Canada, such as access to capital, supplier diversity and technology adoption. The report recommends proven policies and programs that will enable women entrepreneurs to contribute more to the national economy.” She added, “The Taskforce recommendations will assist federal policy-makers to respond to the APEC San Francisco Declaration with action strategies that will create economic benefit for the country and shape a bright future for women entrepreneurs.”

Industry Canada reports that, in 2007, 47 percent of Canada’s 1.6 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were wholly or partly owned by women, and sixteen percent of Canadian SMEs were exclusively owned by women. In addition, more than 900,000 of the 2.6 million self-employed workers in Canada are women. However, the average revenue of majority female-owned firms was $563,000 compared with $1,126,000 for majority male-owned firms.

The Taskforce is calling for a concerted effort to mobilize this under-served segment of our economy through a five-point strategy, by:

1. creating a national women-focused economic development strategy;
2. creating business-stimulation programs to develop new markets and grow globally;
3. creating and implementing measureable supplier-diversity procurement objectives for all federal agencies and departments;
4. enhancing women’s financial literacy and their awareness of gender influences in firm capitalization through training and other incentives; and
5. increasing the adoption of technology in women-led firms through training and other incentives.

The Taskforce for Women’s Business Growth is a national and non-partisan consortium of prominent female business owners, small business service agencies, academics and industry associations. Founded in 2009, the Taskforce aims to accelerate the growth of women’s enterprises through the creation of appropriate public policy, advocacy, research, and sharing of best practices. In 2010 and 2011, the Taskforce members hosted a series of roundtables across Canada to identify policies and programs to speed the growth and success of women business owners and self-employed workers. Participants included more than 200 prominent women business owners, financiers, industry association representatives, academics and other thought leaders.

October 2011

APEC Countries Agree to Remove Barriers to Women’s Economic Growth

Members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) have unanimously agreed to focus on women’s economic growth as an economic strategy in their countries. The San Francisco Declaration was adopted by the 21 APEC member countries at the conclusion of a 3-day Summit on Women and the Economy which was hosted by the US and took place in September in San Francisco.

Hosted by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Summit was attended by senior diplomats, government officials, non-profit and business leaders from the 21 Asia Pacific economies which make up the APEC organization. It was the largest gathering of senior government officials in San Francisco since the Charter creating the United Nations was signed there in 1945.

Laurel Douglas, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre was part of the 25-member delegation which represented Canada at the summit, and was one of 2 Canadian presenters there. She spoke on the topic of “Access to Capital” at the SME Working group’s “Ease of Doing Business Workshop” on September 14. Her presentation focused on the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in accessing capital, and the outcomes achieved by the Women’s Enterprise Initiative, which supports women entrepreneurs in Western Canada through financing, training, advisory services and mentoring.

The summit focused on how fostering women’s economic empowerment among the APEC economies is a sound economic strategy, both in developing and developed economies. In Canada, a 20% increase in revenues from existing women-owned businesses would generate over $2 billion per annum to the Canadian economy.

The four focus areas of the San Francisco Declaration are initiatives to improve access to capital, access to markets, capacity and skills building, and promoting women’s leadership. The Declaration underlines the need for concrete actions to realize the full potential of women, and integrate them more fully into APEC economies.

The Summit’s policy recommendations will be delivered to the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, scheduled for November 12-13, 2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

BC Champions Recognized with International Awards

The International Alliance for Women (TIAW), a global umbrella organization uniting professional women and their networks, has announced the 2011 winners of its prestigious World of Difference 100 Awards. This year, eight exceptional individuals from British Columbia have been internationally recognized for their work promoting and supporting the advancement of women in business.

The 2011 awards recognize 100 achievers from 27 countries for their efforts in advancing the economic empowerment of women locally, regionally or worldwide.  The 22 Canadians honoured in this year’s awards also included Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette of Quebec, in the Public Service /Government category and Charles Coffey, O.C., currently Co-Chair, Aboriginal Human Resource Development Council of Canada and retired Executive Vice President, Government and Community Affairs President, RBC Financial Group, who was named in the Male Champions category.

This is the second time anyone from BC has made the list since the awards’ inception in 2008, when Doreen McKenzie-Sanders was recognized for her work creating the Women in the Lead Directory of qualified women candidates for appointment to corporate boards.  That same year, Sarmite Bulte, former Toronto-based MP and founder of the Women Entrepreneurs of Canada, was awarded for her advocacy of women’s rights.

Every year, TIAW invites nominations in several different categories. Award categories include Education, Community, Entrepreneurial, Non-profit, and Public Service/Government.  This year, Young Women Leaders, Male Champions of Women’s Economic Empowerment, and Corporations were added to the list. Hundreds of nominations were received from all continents, from which the top 100 were selected. The 2011 awards to the BC recipients were granted in the following categories (in alphabetical order):

The 2011 TIAW World of Difference 100 Awards will be presented to the recipients on October 27, 2011 at the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC as part of the annual TIAW Global Forum.

TIAW ( ) is an international umbrella organization which strives to support and promote professional women through resources and networks. Founded in 1980, it has emerged as the global voice of businesswomen who want to make a difference in their communities.

Act now to become a member of BC Business Network

BC Business Network
offers extensive opportunities to British Columbia companies interested in building international trade and investment relationships. The network membership enables BC’s international trade network to provide support to BC businesses with timely business information and networking opportunities. Membership benefits include access to BC’s international network of trade offices, referrals from BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism & Innovation when international clients are seeking products, services and investment opportunities, and invites to workshops, information sessions and trade events. You can also receive customized business intelligence specific to your industry and markets.

Registration is free. Click here to become a member and join 4500+ companies that are already members of the BC business network.

June 2011

Targeted Skills Shortage Pilot Program

This new program will help local businesses and non-profit organizations train current staff to better meet the demands of a changing labour market.. Funding supports training for employed individuals who are low skilled, in particular, employed individuals who do not have a high school diploma or a recognized certification to reach their full potential in the current marketplace.

 Learn More:

  • Targeted Skills Shortage Pilot Program:
  • Skills for Growth: is British Columbia’s labour market strategy, helping to ensure B.C. has the right people with the right skills to fill the over one million jobs that will be available by 2019.
  • An online list of all labour market programs and services open to British Columbians at:

May 2011

Taking the Stage® Launch, Prince George


On May 3, 2011 Women’s Enterprise Centre hosted the Taking the Stage® launch reception at Ohh Chocolate Café in Prince George. Susan Kelly-Easton of Competitive Edge Career Services will be the volunteer facilitator to help women in her group to step forward, develop their leadership presence, and enable them to better influence and inspire others.

Taking the Stage®, developed by The Humphrey Group, has been made available to the business owners in the North through the financial support of Status of Women Canada and Northern Development Initiative Trust.

Janine North of NDIT presenting a cheque
to Heather Martin from WEC

Seeking New Guest Blog Posts for WEC Blog

Women's Enterprise Centre is seeking women entrepreneurs to write on important and relevant business topics to help other self-employed women. If you have an area of expertise related to business growth, marketing, operations or sales and are willing to share your knowledge through our blog, please send us a 250 word blog of original content. Your blog should include some advice, steps to follow, or resources that our readers can take away with them. Please keep your blog focused on a specific topic rather than being too general.

Don't be afraid to get creative!

Please submit a photo and your bio in the format below:
(Name) is the owner of (business) in (city). Business description or personal profile (60 words max)
Learn more here.

Please submit blog, bio and photo to
To read our past blog posts go to, Online Resource for Networking in Vancouver
is Vancouver’s first online resource that identifies and navigates the numerous networking events held in the city. The site is a one-stop resource for individuals of varying industries to obtain information on all things networking-related.

Launched on May 1, 2011’s primary function is to provide working professionals, graduates, and entrepreneurs with a comprehensive calendar of Vancouver’s ongoing networking events, which are all easily sorted by date, industry, or specific networking group. The website also offers a library of up to date information pertaining to networking and business, including tips from noted guest bloggers, book reviews, and more. Information on how to connect with specific networking groups within the city such as women’s-only, marketing specific, and tech focused, are also featured.

“I created as a resource for people who are new to the networking game and don’t know where to start,” says Jen Schaeffers, Marketing Professional and Founder of “There is a desire particularly within the new generation of working professionals to become active in the face-to-face networking scene, however there was not one comprehensive tool to assist in navigating the growing networking opportunities,” adds Schaeffers. is also committed to demystifying the fear and hurdles associated with face-to-face networking. Regular tipsand helpful documents are available on how to be successful once you’ve selected the networking events to attend. Some of these tools include Networking Etiquette and Advice from the Pro’s on how to make the most of networking events.


April 2011

Thank you to our Taking the Stage ® facilitators!

On behalf of the 2010/2011 Taking the Stage ® participants, Women’s Enterprise Centre would like to express our sincere thanks to the following Taking the Stage ® facilitators for their commitment, dedication and support for the program:
Cranbrook: Janice Alpine
Kamloops: Carmie Minnabarriet
Kelowna: Doreen Rosvold, Marilyn Strong & Victoria Oppertshauser
Merritt: Ann Condin
Port Alberni: Jennifer Gallic & Robyn Samuel
Terrace: Betty Barton
Vancouver: Kathryn Moen, Lillian Mukanzu, Lynn Robinson & Carrie Gallant

This month in Vancouver, Women's Enterprise Centre and The Humphrey Group trained eight new facilitators for Taking the Stage ®. As we launch into the second intake for the program, we’d like to acknowledge and introduce our new facilitators:

Comox Valley: Dianne Hawkins
Prince George: Susan Kelly-Easton
Prince Rupert: Trish Dyck
Salmon Arm: Nancy Whitticase
Squamish: Jennifer Deane
Vancouver: Alpana Sharma & Felicia Lee
Victoria: Dawn McCooey



Without dedicated volunteers like these amazing women, we would be unable to deliver the Taking the Stage ® program around the province.

For more details on the Taking the Stage ® program, click here.

B.C. Business Network, is an online database that will help you create or build strategic business relationships within BC or abroad. To profile your company, register at


Small Business Accelerator

Small businesses across British Columbia now have a free, comprehensive resource to boost their business-planning efforts and foster an online community of information and support. The Small Business Accelerator (SBA) is a new gateway to business information for entrepreneurs throughout the province.

A highlight of the SBA is its range of research guides that provide tailored information for specific industries. The site features 72 in-depth guides, developed with the expertise of UBC business librarians and library students, which cover sectors ranging from coffee shops, event planning, jewelry design, life coaching, and much more.


March 2001 News

The University of Victoria’s Business Law Clinic (BLC) invites you
to obtain free legal information for your business



The BLC provides information on matters such as business associations, employment law, intellectual property, taxation, and contracts. Students in the BLC program are not yet lawyers, and therefore are unable to provide legal advice or draft contracts; they provide researched legal information. Inquiries are reviewed to ensure that the students at the BLC have the requisite capacity and expertise to respond appropriately. If the clinic decides to take on your case, you can expect a written memo within four weeks following your initial meeting with the clinic.

Clients living in and around Victoria are interviewed in person at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law, while those living in other communities can be interviewed by telephone. For more information, please visit the BLC website at or contact the clinic at 250-472-4522.



January 2011 News

NEW RELEASE: Growing Your Business Resource Guide!

This guide provides tools to help you decide what growth means to you, how to ready yourself for change, and how to become a strategist – thinking about where you really want your business to grow and how to get there. It will give you key pointers on subjects that women who have expanded their businesses have identified as critical to their growth. Along the way, you will meet inspirational BC women who share their own personal experiences.

Download your free copy here!

Small Business Accelerator

Small businesses across British Columbia now have a free, comprehensive resource to boost their business-planning efforts and foster an online community of information and support. The Small Business Accelerator is a new gateway to business information for entrepreneurs throughout the province.

A highlight of the SBA is its range of research guides that provide tailored information for specific industries. The site features 36 in-depth guides, developed with the expertise of UBC business librarians and library students, which cover sectors ranging from alternative energy to Web development, landscaping to restaurant retailing, and much more.

BC Aboriginal Business Awards Celebrate Excellence in Entrepreneurship

As the first true entrepreneurs in British Columbia, First Nations developed the economy, expanded on local and foreign trade and led the way in managing available resources. Throughout history they have continued to pursue that entrepreneurial spirit, but only in recent years has it been acknowledged and awarded.

Last month the British Columbia Aboriginal Business Awards, founded by the British Columbia Achievement Foundation, held its third annual ceremony to celebrate aboriginal entrepreneurs across the province.

“From small start-ups to mega businesses we are here to recognize the expanding and important role of aboriginal business in our economy, in our communities, in our lands,” acknowledged Keith Mitchell, QC, Chair of the British Columbia Achievement Foundation.


Long time entrepreneur, Dolly Watts was honoured as an aboriginal woman who has played an important role in her community and in inspiring other women. At age 49, Watts went to university; at age 57 she started a catering business; at 60 she opened her restaurant Liliget Feast House. And at age 69, she won the Gold Medal in an Iron Chef competition in Vancouver. Most recently she co-authored an award winning book with her daughter: Where People Feast: An Indigenous People's Cookbook. Dolly was featured in our original Starting Your Business resource guide.

Watts knows that it’s never too late to follow your dream: “I hope that everyone who wants to go into business will see that they too can do it.” She received the BC Aboriginal Business Award for Individual Achievement.

Following in her footsteps is Sharon Bond, another aboriginal entrepreneur who made her vision into reality just five years ago. After demand increased for her bannock, she expanded her small catering business and opened Kekuli Café Aboriginal Foods and Catering in Kelowna. “My whole goal for Kekuli is to bring aboriginal food into the millennium and to have Kekuli Cafes across Canada.”

Upon receiving her award for Business of the Year – ten or more person enterprise, Bond shouted to the audience, “Don’t panic, there’ll be bannock all across Canada!” Her message exemplifies what the awards are all about; the pursuit and achievement of an entrepreneurial dream.

Those same sentiments were shared by Premier Gordon Campbell, who took the stage to commemorate the recipients. “We should remember that achievement is what really set’s the example. Achievement is what drives young people forward, it’s what drives new dreams across our province and across our country".