Fostering a More Robust, Diverse, and Efficient Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: WESK and EDR Collaborate to support women-owned businesses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 29, 2021

Regina, SK – Recognizing the major contributions women entrepreneurs make to our economy and our way of life, Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WESK) and Economic Development Regina (EDR) have signed an MOU to foster continued growth in this vital area of the economy.  

Prabha Mitchell, CEO of WESK stated, “The MOU is not only intended to advance the four principles of the Saskatchewan Women Entrepreneurship Charter, but also encompasses the development and delivery of programs in Regina to help close the gender entrepreneurship gap”.

The agreement leverages key initiatives from both organizations, including WESK’s newly launched “Supporter of Women-Owned Saskatchewan Businesses” brand and EDR’s Audacity YQR movement to inspire, celebrate and promote entrepreneurism. The organizations have pledged to develop a strategy to execute on recommendations made by the provincially mandated and WESK-led Saskatchewan Advisory Committee on the Gender Entrepreneurship Gap.

Specifically, WESK and EDR will collaborate to address the four principles outlined in WESK’s new Saskatchewan Women Entrepreneurship Charter, including sharing critical resources (including access to professional experts and mentors). EDR is one of 35 organizations across Saskatchewan that have committed to the Charter. This partnership will also explore options for enhancing women entrepreneurs’ access to capital.

Women entrepreneurs are major contributors of economic growth and job creation. In 2019, women entrepreneurs contributed $23.1 billion to the Saskatchewan economy and created 191,836 jobs. This is despite the unique barriers faced by women entrepreneurs.

“Regina’s economy offers huge opportunities, and we’re thrilled to work alongside WESK to advance women entrepreneurship – and to share their inspiring stories through Audacity YQR,” EDR President and CEO John Lee said. “This important work also helps EDR live into its values of diversity, inclusion and collaboration. Regina works best when we work together.”

To ensure key priorities are advanced, the organizations will take part in regular meetings and develop additional partnerships to further enhance collaboration. WESK and EDR will be sharing more details on this partnership in the coming months.

About WESK

WESK is a non-profit, membership-based organization that provides business advisory; start-up, purchase and expansion lending; mentoring and networking and learning and training opportunities. WESK is supported by Western Economic Diversification Canada.

To learn more, visit wesk.ca.

About Economic Development Regina Inc.

Economic Development Regina Inc. (EDR) is the lead agency for economic development and tourism marketing for the Greater Regina Area. We are a not-for-profit public-private partnership and governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, with the City of Regina as its sole shareholder.

To learn more, visit economicdevelopmentregina.com.                     

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For more information contact:

Josie Fries, Marketing Advisor
WESK
jfries@wesk.ca
306-477-6286
Chris Bonk, Communications Senior Manager
Economic Development Regina Inc.
Tourism Regina
cbonk@economicdevelopmentregina.com
(306) 552-5242
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From Entrepreneur to Advisor: WEOC Spotlight Series features Lori Jestin-Knaus

Original article found here.

For Lori Jestin-Knaus, entrepreneurship has been part of her life for as long as she can remember.

For almost eight years, Lori has been working as an advisor at the Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan Inc. (WESK). Along with business advising, she is also a regional manager and leads a team of advisors while overseeing programming within the organization.

Lori Jestin-Knaus

Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, Lori was always talking about business. Prior to becoming an advisor, Lori and her husband owned a medical transport company for five years. After selling the business, Lori decided to go back to school and complete her Master of Business Administration with a specialization in Community Economic Development from Cape Breton University.

During my MBA, I did a research project on why women entrepreneurs don’t grow to the same extent as male entrepreneurs. While conducting research, I saw a job posting at WESK for a business advisor. I thought it would be a perfect fit as I was wrapping up my MBA and writing a research project on women entrepreneurs. I fell in love with the idea of helping women and making the entrepreneurship environment inclusive and a level playing field for everyone no matter your gender, race, or age.

With years of entrepreneurial experience, Lori has a good understanding of what entrepreneurs are going through.

“As an advisor, I can provide that additional insight and understanding,” says Jestin-Knaus. “Having seen my parents own businesses and then having owned a business with my husband, I have a lot of experiences to share with my clients.”

Lori says the most rewarding part of advising female entrepreneurs is seeing them succeed and knowing she helped guide them along the way.

“Women are doing a lot of amazing work in all kinds of industries,” says Jestin-Knaus. “Seeing the potential in my clients is so exciting — they just need a little guidance.”

According to Lori, all female entrepreneurs need an advisor who is analytical and has critical thinking skills, but also someone who is personable, empathetic, and has emotional intelligence.

“I am honoured that my clients feel comfortable talking to me about something so important to them,” says Jestin-Knaus. “It is fulfilling that my clients are willing to take my advice and want to work together to achieve their goals.”

One of Lori’s clients, Alauna Whelan, has been working with Lori for just over four years. Alauna is an artist and has worked with Jestin-Knaus to build a foundation for her business that sets her up for growth.

Alauna Whelan

“Lori encourages me to dream bigger and wants the best for me,” says Whelan. “She values a collaborative approach that is built upon innovation and thinking outside the box.”

For Whelan, Jestin-Knaus provides steady support throughout the countless ups, downs, and inevitable shifts as she navigates her business. The advisor’s encouragement and faith in her abilities have helped her through some very challenging times.

“Lori continues to be a sounding board and provides a clear perspective whenever I ask,” says Whelan. “She continues to help me focus on my strengths, double down on what works, and not get bogged down with what doesn’t.”

Lori’s book recommendation for a fellow advisor: Dare to Lead by Brené Brown.

We are all leaders. As advisors, we see the potential in people and ideas, and we must have the courage to develop that potential in ourselves and others. I have read it several times, and as I pick it off the bookshelf, it looks like I will re-read it again this summer.

Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC).

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