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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Call for Cohort Chair – The Exchange: Year Two

Expression of Interest

Call for Cohort Chair – The Exchange: Year 2

Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WESK) is calling for expression of interest to chair an Exchange cohort of women entrepreneurs who are committed to scaling their businesses. This Call is open to women who are or have been entrepreneurs and are passionate about advancing women entrepreneurs in our province.

The Exchange is a springboard for women entrepreneurs ready to harness their true potential and leverage their businesses to the next level of growth and profitability. Members of The Exchange are unapologetic for their success and unafraid to take the leap toward increased profit and personal growth. Through dynamic peer learning, presentations from intriguing and well-seasoned experts, and networking opportunities, our participants will come together to significantly impact the gender gap that currently exists in the Canadian entrepreneurship ecosystem.

We invite you to submit an Expression of Interest


Program Description

Offered over a three-year term, The Exchange program will focus on equipping women entrepreneurs with tools to grow their businesses to the next level. The program will group participants into cohorts to help them develop as business owners through skills development, mentorship, networking, and relationship building.

Cohorts will be based on revenue streams; each cohort will meet separately. Cohort meetings will take place up to one full day once/month excluding July and August for a total of 10 sessions per year. Within these 10 sessions, there will be two full-day retreats planned for all cohorts to attend, allowing for cross-group networking and relationship building.

Role and Commitment of Chair

The Chair will be an experienced entrepreneur with knowledge in scaling a business, expansion and diversification, trade (export and import) and accessing capital. With extensive experience in coaching, facilitation and group dynamics, the Chair will serve as the pivotal link in fostering strong bonds of relationships and trust for learning and growth.

Chairs should have a strong connection to business networks in Saskatchewan and beyond with an understanding of the Saskatchewan business and entrepreneurial landscape as well as current and future trends in small and medium-sized enterprises.

One Chair will be selected to lead and coach each revenue group. Currently, The Exchange is calling on to fill two (2) Chair positions. The Chair will lead the monthly sessions, for a total of 8 sessions per program year. Chairs will attend two annual retreats in person or by video conference. The Chair will also conduct one (1) monthly meeting, at a maximum duration of 30 minutes, with each cohort participant in their group (outside of July and August).

Chairs will be remunerated equivalent up to 2 days per month based on time allocation required.

Visit here for more information on The Exchange.

Submit by Friday, February 19th, 2021 to:

Brittany Scott

The Exchange Project Coordinator, WESK

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Calling all Experts! Join our All Access Expert Advice Program Today!

The All Access Expert Advice Program is an exclusive opportunity for WESK members to meet with our roster of local specialized experts.

All Access serves as a complement to WESK’s business advisory services. As an All Access Expert, you pick up where our WESK advisors leave off. Our program is designed to educate and guide our members through their legal, accounting, marketing, and human resouces challenges.

If you have knowledge to share in these areas, we invite you to submit an application. As an All Access Expert, you’ll be required to offer advice, knowledge, and strategy to help our members start, build, and grow their businesses.

APPOINTMENT FORMAT

  • One-to-one; one hour in length
  • Tuesday afternoons from 1:00 – 4:00pm
  • Due to COVID-19, appointments will be conducted via phone or video until further notice

INTERESTED? READ ON!

WESK requires at minimum, an investment of one Tuesday afternoon (1:00pm-4:00pm) between the months of September 2020 and June 2021. Experts will rotate through Tuesday afternoons on a monthly basis. Additional commitment is welcomed and encouraged. All dates will be confirmed for the season by August 20, 2020.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS

  • Professional biography (<200 words)
  • Headshot
  • Number of Tuesdays you are willing to commit to
  • Detailed description of the areas you can assist in
  • Brief (<100 words) company bio
  • Company logo

Interested? To apply or for more information, contact:

Josie Fries

Marketing Advisor, WESK

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Call for Experts – The Exchange: Rebound Edition

Expression of Interest

Call for Experts – The Exchange – Rebound Edition

WESK is seeking dynamic and knowledgeable experts to present on a variety of topics to develop the competencies, knowledge, and technical skills of the participants of The Exchange.

The Exchange is a 3-year business growth program designed to help women entrepreneurs scale their businesses. In recent times, WESK recognizes that COVID-19 has significantly impacted small and medium sized businesses and, as a result, pivoted to meet the immediate needs of women entrepreneurs. The newly redesigned Year One of the program ensures women entrepreneurs are supported during these uncertain times to successfully “rebound” from economic shock. Year One of the program will launch in September 2020 and end in May 2021.

The Exchange is a springboard for women entrepreneurs that are ready to harness their true potential and leverage their business to the next level of growth and profitability. Participants of The Exchange are unapologetic for their success and unafraid to take the leap toward increased profit and personal growth. Through dynamic peer learning, presentations from intriguing and well- seasoned experts, and networking opportunities, our participants will come together to significantly impact the gender gap that currently exists in the Canadian entrepreneurship ecosystem.

This program was made possible through funding received from The Government of Canada as part of the creation of the Women Entrepreneurship Fund and Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund. To read the full press release about this announcement, click here.

We invite you to submit an Expression of Interest including a quote for your expert presentation fee.


Details

Audience

  • The Exchange cohorts consist of 6 – 15 women entrepreneurs who are grouped into 4 distinct ranges of revenue.
  • The Exchange participants are seeking to increase profitability and personal growth while rebounding from the economic shock of COVID-19.

Session Format

  • The Expert will deliver a one-hour virtual presentation on a specified topic followed by 15 minutes for Q & A.
  • This presentation will be timely and relevant given the current pandemic circumstances and will demonstrate knowledge and expertise to support women entrepreneurs with strategies to rebound, return and reimagine their businesses.
  • The Exchange monthly session is facilitated by The Exchange Chair.
  • The expert presentation is from 9:15 AM – 10:30 AM followed by a session led by The Exchange Chair.
  • WESK will confirm the session date and time with the expert.
  • The Expert presentations will provide the Exchange participants with educational value and refrain from promoting a specific business, product, or service, unless approved by a WESK Manager.

Presentation Topics

  • Operating in Pandemic Times
  • Nurturing Your Team
  • Amplify Customer Loyalty and Foster Community
  • Business Resilience
  • Finance, Reimagined.
  • Pushing the Envelope of Your Business Reality
  • Rediscover Value Through People

 Submission of the Expression of Interest

  • Proposal outlining your key topics, session description and presentation fee(s)
  • Professional biography and/or CV outlining areas of expertise as well as facilitation experience

You are welcome to submit topics that are leading edge and may pertain to current business climate that is not included in this expression of interest.

Submit by Friday, September 25, 2020 to:

Brittany Scott

The Exchange Project Coordinator, WESK

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Celebrating Women Tech Founders from Saskatchewan

Adapted by WESK from Innovation Saskatchewan’s original article: https://innovationsask.ca/success-stories/women-entrepreneurs-week-2020

Founders Table was a group of early-stage female technology founders who met monthly in Regina from September 2019 – March 2020. This program was offered in partnership with WESK and Economic Development Regina Inc, and was sponsored by Innovation Saskatchewan. Founders Table gathered women from around the province to learn business development skills from other more established female tech founders. Of the many successes from the group, the main advantage was developing a strong network of early-stage female founders.

Here are some of the amazing women entering into the exciting realm of technology:

Melanie Morrison from BetterCart

BetterCart compares prices across major grocery chains in Canada and helps people get the best deal on their grocery cart every time they shop. In response to COVID-19, BetterCart also shows Canadians which grocery stores are carrying harder-to-get items, saving them time, and promoting their health. Shoppers can discover new products, gain time in their day, and save hundreds of dollars on their grocery bill with BetterCart.

Koreen Mak from Peppermint Technologies Inc.

Peppermint Technologies Inc. revitalizes organizational learning through the delivery of scheduled, short bursts of training content straight to your phone via text or email. Our easy to use authoring tool allows organizations to develop relevant, timely training to a geographically dispersed workforce in a cost-effective, time-saving manner, allowing employees to spend less time away from work while increasing learning retention and application.

Kristy Ehman from Hyon

There are two types of people in this world. You’re either someone that will do the work to sell your used items or you can’t be bothered. Hyon is connecting these two groups.

Heidi Watson from Guardian EMR

E-HIS supports health professionals in building modern and efficient practices for Canadians. Clinicians can onboard to our secure EMR and use the same forms and work processes they’ve always used. Reach out if you want to save time and increase your clinic’s revenue.

Jana and Robyn Ham from Financial Foundations (fifo)

Fifo was created with the social mission of making financial literacy and the application of financial education accessible to all. The fifo app leverages technology to connect financial institutions with their clients and empower the user to make informed financial decisions. As true entrepreneurs, the sisters also created Sask Masks. The Sask Masks mission is twofold: slowing the spread of the coronavirus and supporting the community. The social enterprise makes handmade face masks and donates the net proceeds to local charities including the Regina Food Bank, Carmichael Outreach, and the YWCA Regina. Sask Masks can be found on Facebook and Instagram @saskmasks.

Jessica McNaughton from memoryKPR

At memoryKPR (pronounced keeper) our founders have a passion for untold stories. The creation of this company is rooted in protecting, saving, storing, and designing stories. As our world becomes more digital, so do our stories, we need permanent solutions to be able to keep and pass on these stories. We are that solution. We serve memorial, funeral, wedding, events and individuals.

Joanne Cunningham from Wave9

Wave9 helps conventional oil producers to reduce operating expenses and environmental impacts. We analyze data and photos and provide an easy-to-use dashboard for field workers to help them to focus their time on the highest value tasks. Unlike some other systems which can require field workers to sift through mountains of data, Wave9’s use of AI and our focus on the user allows us to deliver valuable insights without disrupting today’s processes.

Adapted by WESK from Innovation Saskatchewan’s original article: https://innovationsask.ca/success-stories/women-entrepreneurs-week-2020

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“Founders Table” Program To Help Women Tech Entrepreneurs Expand And Grow Their Businesses

Sep 19, 2019

Founder’s Table, kicking off tonight, provides support, mentorship and networking opportunities for female tech entrepreneurs in our province.

There are more than 34,000 women entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan but a gap between the number of male and female entrepreneurs remains.  Founder’s Table is a made-in-Saskatchewan program that will address this gap through mentorship and education.  Over the next six months, female tech entrepreneurs will meet to develop sector-specific knowledge and strategy.

“We are blessed to come from a province where successful female business owners are part of an ecosystem that steps up to inspire and mentor new entrepreneurs,” Minister Responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan Tina Beaudry-Mellor said. “Founder’s Table is an excellent opportunity for women in tech to learn to take their business and management skills to the next level.”Ten technology company founders were selected to participate in the Founder’s Table.  They will meet in Regina once a month from now until February in preparation for The Growth Intensive Workshop in March 2020, where they will plan the next phases of their businesses.“Founder’s Table is committed to supporting female founders from across this province grow and flourish in the technology sector,” Women Entrepreneurs Saskatchewan (WESK) CEO Prabha Mitchell said.  “Together with Economic Development Regina, and with the financial support of Innovation Saskatchewan, WESK is pleased to help Saskatchewan women in technology succeed through this mastermind program.”Katrina German, Co-founder and CEO of OneStory, is the program facilitator.  She is an award-winning Saskatchewan entrepreneur with a passion for encouraging women to pursue careers in technology.  Innovation Saskatchewan is providing $50,000 to Economic Development Regina to support the initiative developed in partnership with WESK.

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For more information, contact:

Mona Bates
WESK
Phone: 639-316-4874

Original article: https://innovationsask.ca/news/founders-table-program-to-help-women-tech-entrepreneurs-expand-and-grow-their-businesses 

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A Single Spark Can Change Everything: WESK’s Matchstick is Igniting the Future

Entrepreneur Devon Fiddler is familiar with the precarious yet rewarding phase of business start-up. In 2015, Fiddler created an innovative Indigenous-themed fashion retail business, SheNative Goods Incorporated. The retailer sells handcrafted leather goods and apparel (shenative.com). Fiddler says her business philosophy is “community-based” and she wants to “support and encourage other Indigenous women.” SheNative’s popular t-shirt line features empowerment slogans like “Indigenous Boss Babe.”

SheNative is entirely Indigenous-owned. Fiddler’s production, design and sales staff is also of Indigenous ancestry. On June 1, 2019, the SheNative team moved into a new flagship store at 714A 2nd Avenue N. in Saskatoon.

Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WESK) recently expanded its services to include targeted, culturally relevant support for First Nations business owners, like Devon Fiddler. What do they need from WESK to create a successful venture? The Matchstick: Spark for Indigenous Entrepreneurs program originated from a May 2017 WESK re-brand. WESK determined that an underserviced demographic—Saskatchewan’s Indigenous women—could directly benefit from its expertise and support. Young Indigenous women make up a significant proportion of the Saskatchewan population and more than 36 per cent of them are under the age of fifteen.

WESK secured funding and the three-year project was underwritten by Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Saskatchewan government, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations and the Saskatchewan Indian Equity Foundation. An advisory board was established and a needs assessment was conducted. Devon Fiddler is a member of the Matchstick advisory board and she’s facilitated an exploratory workshop for Matchstick assisting participants in the brainstorming phase of imagining a potential business venture.

Matchstick’s goals are ambitious. The program’s directive is to better engage and involve Indigenous women in entrepreneurship, strengthen Indigenous women’s role in entrepreneurship and to address the lack of entrepreneurial awareness of business ownership as a career opportunity. Matchstick aims to increase the number of Indigenous entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan and to cultivate support for business in Indigenous communities.

To date, WESK has visited eight First Nations communities to conduct on-site business plan training. 250 women participated in the business planning sessions. The core curriculum was adapted specifically for First Nations participants. “We are very pleased with the Matchstick project and its strategic direction,” says WESK’s CEO Prabha Mitchell.

The project is set to conclude in March 2020. Going forward, WESK intends to build on the momentum of the popular program to provide continued services to Indigenous women entrepreneurs. In order to expand the Matchstick program’s scope beyond the original three-year mandate, WESK is courting funders to secure additional project support.

Trailblazer Devon Fiddler’s success will certainly bolster WESK’s case for the continued investment in Indigenous-owned small business ventures. As Fiddler’s SheNative t-shirts proclaim: “She Believed She Could Do it and She Did.”

 

Original article available here: https://industrywestmagazine.com/small/a-single-spark-can-change-everything-wesks-matchstick-is-igniting-the-future

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