SaskPower Signs the Saskatchewan Women Entrepreneurship Charter: Commits to Supporting Women-Owned Businesses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – August 26, 2021

Regina, SK – SaskPower has signed onto the Saskatchewan Women Entrepreneurship Charter, an initiative led by Women Entrepreneurs Saskatchewan (WESK). As a Charter Champion, SaskPower has committed to supporting women-owned businesses in Saskatchewan. 

In May of 2019, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the creation of the WESK-led Saskatchewan Advisory Committee, an influential group of respected business leaders responsible for advising on strategies, policies, and activities to level the playing field for Saskatchewan women entrepreneurs. In July 2020, the Committee released their final report of recommendations entitled Enabling Scale in Saskatchewan. The report includes ten recommendations, including the launch of a charter to build a pool of champions in support of women entrepreneurs.

The Charter affirms a commitment to advance women entrepreneurship and build connections through four defining principles: 1) Procure with her; 2) Amplify her voice; 3) Share skills with her; and 4) Shatter a ceiling. Through the signing of the charter, Champions are not only committing to doing business with local women-owned companies, but they are also actively seeking and creating opportunities to support women entrepreneurs in practical and quantifiable ways.

“SaskPower firmly believes in advancing women entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan and will continue to actively look for opportunities to do so, which is why we have signed onto the Charter,” said SaskPower President and CEO Mike Marsh. “SaskPower is committed to a sustainable supply chain and this partnership with Women Entrepreneurs Saskatchewan will allow SaskPower to continue to build a diverse chain of suppliers and help support women-owned businesses in Saskatchewan.”

“We are very pleased to see SaskPower join the ranks of those paving the way towards gender entrepreneurship parity,” commented Prabha Mitchell, CEO of WESK. “Notwithstanding that SaskPower is the largest crown corporation in our province, signing onto the Charter reflects a strong commitment to advancing equal opportunities for economic growth. Through the support of the Government of Saskatchewan, the province has positioned itself to lead the country as the preeminent place for women to start, grow, and scale their businesses.”

Women entrepreneurs are major contributors to economic growth and job creation. In 2019, women entrepreneurs contributed $23.1 billion to the Saskatchewan economy and created 191,836 jobs. However, research indicates women entrepreneurs encounter unique barriers that hinder full participation in growing the wealth of our province. By understanding and addressing the unique barriers that women entrepreneurs encounter, Charter Champions can enhance opportunities to scale businesses and boost economic growth in the province.

“This partnership fits so nicely with SaskPower’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy,” noted Kathy McCrum, Vice President, Human Resources & Safety at SaskPower. “We have put significant focus on changing our traditional norms to allow for more space and opportunities for women to succeed at SaskPower.  We know we have more work to do, but our executive leadership is committed to continuing to take intentional action to ensure women are more representative in our workforce and in our supply chain.”

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For more information, please contact:

Josie Fries, Marketing Advisor, WESK

T: 306-477-6286

About WESK

WESK is a non-profit, membership-based organization that provides business advising, lending, mentoring, networking, and learning opportunities. WESK is supported by Western Economic Diversification Canada.

In the past 26 years, WESK has provided over $40.4 million in financing to women entrepreneurs and as a result, more than $3.43 million has been leveraged.

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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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Hill and Levene Schools of Business commit to supporting women entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan

For Immediate Release

The University of Regina’s Hill and Levene Schools of Business have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WESK), committing to advancing women entrepreneurship in the province.

The Hill and Levene Schools of Business are currently home to the provincial hub of a national network, Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH), as well as the RBC Woman Executive in Residence Program. The MOU is intended to advance these initiatives. In the MOU, the Hill and Levene Schools of Business and WESK have committed to working towards the following initiatives over the next two years:

  1. Exploring the feasibility of developing non-credit investor development programming for students and women in the community, to be offered by the University through the RBC Woman Executive in Residence program, Saskatchewan’s Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, and/or the Centre for Management Development;
  2. Better understanding and responsiveness to the needs of women entrepreneurs in agriculture, Indigenous women entrepreneurs, and women entrepreneurs who are new Canadians in Saskatchewan through research; and
  3. Partnering to profile and showcase best practices of women entrepreneurship through research and events.

The Hill and Levene Schools of Business have begun offering sessions on early-stage investing for both women students and entrepreneurs in the community. In addition, researchers at the Schools have initiated a research project to better understand the challenges and opportunities facing women entrepreneurs who are new Canadians.

“The Hill and Levene Schools are committed to advancing women’s entrepreneurship and women-owned businesses in Saskatchewan. I am very pleased to formalize our relationship with WESK in this way so we can make continue to make a significant impact.” says Dr. Gina Grandy, Dean of Hill and Levene Schools of Business. “This will benefit our students and our community.”

In April, WESK announced the launch of its new series of initiatives to assist in closing the entrepreneurial gender gap in the province. These are in direct response to recommendations made by the Saskatchewan Advisory Committee on the Gender Entrepreneurship Gap.

“We know that women entrepreneurs experience several barriers in accessing capital. One of the reasons being the lack of female investors and leaders on the decision-making teams. WESK is pleased to partner with the Hill and Levene Schools of Business to work towards elevating women entrepreneurs by increasing women’s representation in the investment sector,” stated Prabha Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of WESK.

Thirty-two different organizations, including the University of Regina, signed on as Charter Champions, indicating their support of WESK’s initiatives:

  1. Launching a new digital entrepreneurship hub to provide curated resources relevant to needs at the various stages of the entrepreneurial journey.
  2. Releasing the Saskatchewan Women Entrepreneurship Charter. The charter is comprised of four principles to support women-owned businesses. Embracing this charter means committing to doing business with women-owned companies, promoting, mentoring and including them in practical and quantifiable ways.
  3. Providing woman entrepreneurs with a brand identity, allowing them to self-declare as an official Woman-Owned Saskatchewan Business, making it easier for customers to notice and support her.

“By supporting women entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan, we are also honouring the University of Regina’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion,” says Dr. Kathleen McNutt, Vice-President (Research). “With the research projects that we have planned, we will be able to better understand the barriers and challenges that women entrepreneurs face. This information will enable us to support women entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses and contribute to the province’s economic growth.”

For more information:

Josie Fries

Marketing Advisor, WESK

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Innovation Saskatchewan Announces Increased Funding to Support Saskatchewan’s Female Technology Founders

Article originally shared here by Innovation Saskatchewan.

Innovation Saskatchewan is committing $60,000 per year for the next two years to help propel the growth of women-led technology companies in the province. Consistent with the final report and recommendations of the Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan’s Advisory Committee on the Gender Entrepreneurship Gap, this funding will support the continuation of the Founders Table program.

Founders Table is a mentorship program which brings together female technology entrepreneurs to gain new business skills, knowledge, and create industry connections. Innovation Saskatchewan partnered with Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WESK) in 2019 and 2020 to launch this initiative.

“We are very excited to be announcing our continued support of the Founders Table program,” Minister Jeremy Harrison, Minister Responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan says. “Building a tech ecosystem conducive for women to scale their companies is critical to the ongoing growth of Saskatchewan’s tech sector and our Government’s Growth Plan – in which we aim to triple the tech sector over the next ten years.”

According to a 2018 WESK report on women entrepreneurs, it was found that women are highly under-represented in Canada’s tech sector, with only six percent of founders being female. This program aims to address that gap by providing support, mentorship, and networking opportunities for female tech founders.

“Founders Table has seen participant numbers double in its second year, with positive impacts to their business being reported, including leadership, stronger marketing, and a surge in hiring additional employees,” says Prabha Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer of WESK, “Support for this program will go a long way in continuing to help change under-representation in the industry.”

Innovation Saskatchewan’s investment helps build a strong community of female tech founders in the province. Founders Table will provide in-depth learning sessions presented by leaders in Saskatchewan’s tech community on topics such as creating and pitching your product, connect with customers, and accessing ecosystem supports. Applicants will be considered in August and the 10 to 15 successful candidates will begin meeting in September. Founders Table members can come from anywhere in Saskatchewan but must have less than five years in business and gross revenues under $250,000.

For more information, go to: https://wesk.ca/programs/founders-table/

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WESK Summit Gala 2021 Award Recipients Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 19, 2021

This evening, WESK recognized five women entrepreneurs from Saskatchewan with awards at the virtual WESK Summit Gala. The event falls during Women Entrepreneurs Week, which, as proclaimed by the Government of Saskatchewan, runs from May 16 through May 22, 2021. In alignment with Women Entrepreneurs Week, the WESK Summit Gala provides an opportunity to not only recognize awards finalists and recipients, but also to applaud and showcase all of Saskatchewan’s women entrepreneurs.

“I’d like to thank the Government of Saskatchewan for proclaiming this week as Women Entrepreneurs Week across the province. This week, we honor and celebrate every woman entrepreneur in our province who makes an economic and social contribution to our community. We encourage you to join us in this celebration,” said Prabha Mitchell, CEO of WESK.

Awards were presented in the following categories: Community Involvement, Indigenous Entrepreneur, Innovation, Resilience, and Celebration of Achievement. Below is a summary of each award category and the respective finalists.

The 4th annual Celebration of Achievement award pays tribute to an exceptional woman entrepreneur who has built a business in Saskatchewan of significant impact to the economy and the community. She is an inspirational leader and a role model for women in business. The finalists are: Janna Dutton (Dutton Group Tim Hortons) and Christine Hrudka (Pharmacy First). Celebration of Achievement Award: Christine Hrudka (Pharmacy First)

The Community Involvement Award is presented to the Saskatchewan woman entrepreneur that has been a leader in creating ways of conducting business that have a positive impact on the community. The finalists are: Jennifer Denouden (Avana), Shaina Lynden (Ryde YXE Cycle Studios), Valerie Sluth (Praxis Consulting).

The Indigenous Entrepreneur Award is presented to the Indigenous Saskatchewan woman entrepreneur, which through a strong business concept shows plans for future growth and viability over the long term. The finalists are: Christine Marie (Awasis Boutique), Destinee Peter (Tangles Hair and Beauty Salon), Jennifer Dubois (Miyosiwin Salon Spa).

The Innovation Award is presented to the Saskatchewan entrepreneur that is pushing conventional boundaries and is disrupting and reshaping her industry through ground-breaking achievements in bringing innovation to market. The finalists are: Jennifer Denouden (Avana), Monique Simair (Maven Water and Environment), Serese Selanders (SolusGuard & ORA).

The Resilience Award is presented to the Saskatchewan woman entrepreneur who has shown strength and determination through COVID-19. She has shown an ability to pivot in response to unexpected and difficult challenges brought about by the pandemic, while continuing to maintain strong business operations. The finalists are: Jolene Watson (Clarity Coaching and Development), Heather Monaghan (Helping Hands Care Group), Shaina Lynden & Bradie Mustoe (Ryde YXE Cycle Studios).

The 2021 recipients are:

  • Community Involvement Award Recipient: Jennifer Denouden (Avana)
  • Indigenous Entrepreneur Award Recipient: Jennifer Dubois (Miyosiwin Salon Spa)
  • Innovation Award Recipient: Monique Simair (Maven Water and Environment)
  • Resilience Award Recipient: Heather Monaghan (Helping Hands Care Group)

Mitchell stated, “Congratulations to our award recipients for this well deserved recognition. The importance of celebrating women entrepreneurs is even more amplified this year.  Their grit through this time of uncertainty and risk is not only remarkable; but the resilience to pivot, adapt and remain agile is extraordinary.”

To continue to celebrate and raise awareness of Women Entrepreneurs Week in Saskatchewan, WESK is showcasing a different woman entrepreneur every day across their social channels, and has released a special Women Entrepreneurs Week video.

Additionally, WESK will be holding the annual WESK Summit on Thursday, May 20, a rebrand of WESK’s traditional and long-standing Small Business Conference. While the event is virtual this year, attendees can still expect engaging workshops, powerful keynote presentations (including Michele Romanow of CBC’s Dragons’ Den), insightful panel discussions, and plenty of chances to network amongst attendees.


Associated Links

For more information:

Josie Fries

Marketing Advisor, WESK

306.477.6286

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.

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WESK Summit Gala: WESK announces 13 women entrepreneurs as finalists for entrepreneur awards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Today, WESK announced the names of the 13 women entrepreneurs selected as finalists for its five women entrepreneur awards. The five award recipients will be announced at the WESK Summit Gala on Wednesday, May 19th, 2021 at a virtual event. The event will recognize outstanding Saskatchewan female business leaders in the following categories: Community Involvement, Indigenous Entrepreneur, Innovation, Resilience, as well as the esteemed Celebration of Achievement Award.

This year, WESK underwent a rebrand of its annual Awards Gala and Small Business Conference, and it is now referred to as the WESK Summit Gala and the WESK Summit. The WESK Summit Gala provides an opportunity to recognize outstanding female entrepreneurs with one of five entrepreneur awards, while also celebrating the achievements of all woman entrepreneurs in our province.

This year marks the fourth year of WESK’s Celebration of Achievement Award. This award pays tribute to an exceptional woman entrepreneur who has built a business in Saskatchewan of significant impact to the economy and the community. She is an inspirational leader and a role model for women in business. The finalists are: Janna Dutton (Dutton Group Tim Hortons) and Christine Hrudka (Pharmacy First).


The Community Involvement Award is presented to the Saskatchewan woman entrepreneur that has been a leader in creating ways of conducting business that have a positive impact on the community. The finalists are: Jennifer Denouden (Avana), Shaina Lynden (Ryde YXE Cycle Studios), Valerie Sluth (Praxis Consulting).

The Indigenous Entrepreneur Award is presented to the Indigenous Saskatchewan woman entrepreneur, which through a strong business concept shows plans for future growth and viability over the long term. The finalists are: Christine Marie (Awasis Boutique), Destinee Peter (Tangles Hair and Beauty Salon), Jennifer Dubois (Miyosiwin Salon Spa).

The Innovation Award is presented to the Saskatchewan entrepreneur that is pushing conventional boundaries and is disrupting and reshaping her industry through ground-breaking achievements in bringing innovation to market. The finalists are: Jennifer Denouden (Avana), Monique Simair (Maven Water and Environment), Serese Selanders (SolusGuard & ORA).

The Resilience Award is presented to the Saskatchewan woman entrepreneur who has shown strength and determination through COVID-19. She has shown an ability to pivot in response to unexpected and difficult challenges brought about by the pandemic, while continuing to maintain strong business operations. The finalists are: Jolene Watson (Clarity Coaching and Development), Heather Monaghan (Helping Hands Care Group), Shaina Lynden & Bradie Mustoe (Ryde YXE Cycle Studios).

The importance of recognizing women entrepreneurs is even more pronounced this year. The grit, perseverance, and determination of women entrepreneurs in our province, in this unprecedented year of risk and uncertainty is remarkable. Today, we honor and celebrate their resilience and success”

Prabha Mitchell, CEO of WESK

Associated Links

For more information:

Josie Fries, Marketing Advisor, WESK

306.477.6286

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.

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WESK announces new initiatives to help close the gender entrepreneurship gap in Saskatchewan

Saskatoon, SK – April 8, 2021

Today, at a virtual press conference, Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WESK) announced the launch of its new series of initiatives to assist in closing the entrepreneurial gender gap in the province.

This series of initiatives is in direct response to recommendations made by the provincially mandated and WESK-led Saskatchewan Advisory Committee on the Gender Entrepreneurship Gap. It includes the launch of a new digital entrepreneurship hub to provide curated resources relevant to needs at the various stages of the entrepreneurial journey. This digital hub is accompanied by the recently restructured membership packages.

WESK’s next initiative consists of the release of the Saskatchewan Women Entrepreneurship Charter. The charter is comprised of four principles to support women-owned businesses. Embracing this charter means committing to doing business with women-owned companies, promoting, mentoring and including them in practical and quantifiable ways.

The last initiative in this series provides a woman entrepreneur with a brand identity, allowing her to self-declare as an official Woman-Owned Saskatchewan Business, making it easier for customers to notice and support her. The brand identity also includes a supporter logo allowing organizations to get involved and display their support of women-owned businesses.

These initiatives illustrate WESK’s efforts to help address the unique barriers women face in their entrepreneurial journey, from start-up to scale-up. They fulfill its mandate to support the province’s women entrepreneurs as they increasingly contribute to Saskatchewan’s socio-economic growth.

Quotes

“Today’s announcement is a substantial step in the right direction to help address the gender entrepreneurship gap . Investing in Saskatchewan women entrepreneurs is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.” – Prabha Mitchell, WESK’s Chief Executive Officer

“As an established entrepreneur, I am looking forward to taking full advantage of the new digital hub. The entrepreneurial journey can be lonely and distressing at times, this type of program is really helpful.” – Rauncie Kinnaird, Owner of Sandy Shores Resorts

“Tackling the challenges women entrepreneurs face, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, begins by addressing the barriers that make it difficult for innovators to thrive. As a champion of the Saskatchewan Women Entrepreneurship Charter, I’m committed to fostering an ecosystem in which entrepreneurs can continue to create positive social change in their local and global economies” – Jeff Pickett, Managing Partner at EY

Quick Facts

  • In Saskatchewan, women-owned small and medium enterprises only represent 13.7% of businesses, although a recent WESK-commissioned PwC report shows that these businesses contribute 26% of the total GDP and employ about 33% of Saskatchewan’s workforce, contributing $23.1 billion (2019) to the province’s economy.
  • In Canada, female-owned businesses contributed nearly $150 billion to the economy (2019), and could add another $150 billion by 2026 by advancing gender equality.
  • At current levels of women entrepreneurship, it will take 180 years to close the gender gap. Concerted efforts are required to remove barriers, such as financing inequities with their male counterparts for whom 24.8% of applications are rejected compared to 65.7% for women.

Associated Links

Contact:

Josie Fries, Marketing Advisor, WESK

Tel: 306-477-6286 – Email: jfries@wesk.ca

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.

Above: The newly released brand identities, created by WESK, for women-owned businesses and their supporters.
Above: WESK’s new website, now a Digital Entrepreneurship Hub, complete with a business phase identifier and curated resources, tailored to phase of business.

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Happy International Women’s Day

This year marks the third annual International Women’s Day (IWD) event that WESK has hosted with our partners at Miller Thomson. In this short time, it has quickly become one of our most looked-forward to events both by the public, and our team.

At this time last year, our IWD event marked one of the last before COVID-19 reached Saskatchewan. At this time, we had no idea that in just a week, in-person events and services would come to a halt, and would remain that way for at least the next 365 days.

Fast forward to today, and virtual events are everywhere. While the fate of this year’s IWD event may be virtual, WESK and Miller Thomson were determined to bring you an event that allowed for connectiondiscussion, and celebration. We are thrilled to announce that our first ever virtual International Women’s Day event, “Virtual Conversations“, has sold out! For those who are joining us this afternoon, we are excited to have you join us.

As you may know, this year’s theme is #ChooseToChallenge. While this day is about celebrating women’s achievements, it’s also about challenging biases and inequity. From challenge comes change, and together, we can all #ChooseToChallenge to help create an inclusive world.

We chatted with local entrepreneurs Jennifer Denouden, CEO and President of Avana Enterprises, and Christine Marie, Founder of Awasis Boutique, to learn more about the obstacles they face as women entrepreneurs and how they #ChooseToChallenge. You can read the whole digital brochure below. We hope you take time to connect, celebrate, and challenge on this International Women’s Day. We will continue to look into 2021 with optimism and hope that in-person connections will soon be feasible, and we look forward to seeing you in-person for IWD 2022!

Josie Fries, Marketing Advisor, WESK

Josie is an enthusiastic and motivated professional dedicated to bringing exciting events and learning opportunities to entrepreneurs throughout Saskatchewan. As WESK’s marketing advisor, Josie enjoys spreading the WESK buzz throughout the community, being hands-on with the planning and execution of WESK events, and values building strong relationships with partner organizations and sponsors.

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An Open Letter to the People of Saskatchewan

Friday, November 13, 2020

On behalf of the 34 undersigned associations, chambers of commerce, and economic development groups, as well as the tens of thousands of employers and employees we represent, we are jointly writing to express our strong support for the targeted approach the Government of Saskatchewan has taken to address rising case counts in localized ‘hotspots,’ including new mandatory mask requirements.


While we acknowledge some businesses will be significantly affected by today’s announcement, returning to a widespread, large-scale lockdown would be catastrophic to Saskatchewan jobs, Saskatchewan families, and on the immediate survivability of Saskatchewan businesses — even with new and extensive government intervention. The health, societal, and economic harm would have lasting, irreversible impacts.


We are calling on all Saskatchewan residents to follow the restrictions and guidelines set out by our public health experts. Do your part and be a good neighbour. We also support the proactive enforcement of these critical measures.

Last but not least: As we enter the holiday season, we ask Saskatchewan residents to support local businesses wherever possible. Many of these businesses are barely hanging on, and every little bit counts.

And above all else: Be kind to each other. We are all in this together.

Sincerely,

Alex Fallon, President & CEO, Saskatoon Regional Economic Development Authority

Ashley Campbell, Executive Director, Concrete Saskatchewan

Beverly MacLeod, Executive Director, Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – Saskatchewan

Brent Fitzpatrick, Executive Director, Humboldt & District Chamber of Commerce

Cameron Choquette, Executive Director, Saskatchewan Landlord Association

David MacLean, Vice President, Saskatchewan & Alberta, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Derek Lothian, President & CEO, Insurance Brokers Association of Saskatchewan

Elise Hildebrandt, CEO, Prince Albert & District Chamber of Commerce

Eric Anderson, Executive Director, Saskatchewan Industrial & Mining Suppliers Association Jackie Wall, Executive Director, Estevan Chamber of Commerce

Jaimie Malmgren, Executive Director, Prairie Sky Chamber of Commerce

Jason Aebig, CEO, Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce

Jason Yochim, CEO, Saskatchewan REALTORS Association

Jim Bence, President & CEO, Saskatchewan Hotel & Hospitality Association

John Hopkins, CEO, Regina & District Chamber of Commerce

John Lee, CEO, Economic Development Regina

Juanita Polegi, Executive Director, Yorkton Chamber of Commerce

Karen Low, President, Merit Contractors Association of Saskatchewan

Karla Wiens, CEO, Swift Current & District Chamber of Commerce

Keith Moen, Executive Director, NSBA

Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Kindersley & District Chamber of Commerce

Linda Machniak, Executive Director, Battlefords Chamber of Commerce

Lisa Suchlandt, Executive Director, Nipawin & District Chamber of Commerce

Marilyn Braun-Pollon, Vice President, Western Canada & Agri-business, Canadian Federation of Independent Business

Mark Cooper, President & CEO, Saskatchewan Construction Association

Pam Schwann, President, Saskatchewan Mining Association

Prabha Mitchell, CEO, WESK – Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan

Rob Clark, CEO, Moose Jaw & District Chamber of Commerce

Serena Sjodin, Executive Director, Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce

Steve McLellan, CEO, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce

Shantel Lipp, President, Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association

Susan Ewart, President & CEO, Saskatchewan Trucking Association

Trevor Dignean, Administrator, Meadow Lake & District Chamber of Commerce

Twila Walkedan, Executive Director, Weyburn Chamber of Commerce

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