FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Saskatoon, SK – The finalists of WESK’s women entrepreneur awards were announced today as part of the WESK Summit Gala, presented by Conexus Credit Union. This event recognizes the economic and social contributions that women entrepreneurs have made across Saskatchewan. In total, 23 women entrepreneurs were named as finalists amongst six awards categories. The categories include the Community Involvement award, Indigenous Entrepreneur award, Innovation award, Growth and Expansion award, Resilience award, and the esteemed Celebration of Achievement award. The award recipients will be announced at the WESK Summit Gala on Wednesday, May 25 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
As the premier awards gala for women entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan, the WESK Summit Gala brings together business leaders, entrepreneurs, and government for an evening of celebration, networking, and inspiration. The event provides an opportunity not only to recognize the recipients of the six entrepreneur awards, but also to celebrate the achievements of all women entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan. While the rebrand of the WESK Summit Gala debuted virtually in 2021, WESK is pleased to share the transformation of the event in person this year.
This year marks the fifth 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: Andrea Hansen (Sutton), Janna Dutton (Dutton Group Tim Hortons), and Natasha Vandenhurk (Three Farmers Foods).
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. She has shown evidence of a clearly expressed and widely communicated strategy and focuses on actions which demonstrate a responsibility to enhance the social and natural environments in which they operate. She truly looks out for the triple bottom line – people, profits, planet. The finalists are: Charmaine Panko (Panko Collaborative Law and Mediation), Lisa McIntrye (The Optical Shoppe), and Pam Fichtner (Sephira Healing).
The Indigenous Entrepreneur award is presented to the Indigenous Saskatchewan woman entrepreneur, who through a strong business concept shows plans for future growth and viability over the long term. Additionally, she demonstrates a strong understanding of her market and competitors and has a long-term commitment to the community. The finalists are: Courtney Kennedy (Kennedy Eye Clinic), Geanna Dunbar (Piercing and Tattoos by Geanna), and Leanne Bellegarde (Akawe Technologies).
The Innovation award is presented to the Saskatchewan woman entrepreneur who is pushing conventional boundaries. She is disrupting and reshaping her industry through ground-breaking achievements in bringing innovation to market. The finalists are: Alicia Soulier (SalonScale), Christine Beck (Waggle Mail), Erin Kinder (Kinder Surprises Antiques), Kayla Kozan (Peak Wellness), and Meghan Hawkins and Cristie Zyla (The Prairie Grazer).
The Growth and Expansion award is presented to the Saskatchewan women entrepreneur who has successfully developed and implemented a strategy that has resulted in rapid growth and increased profitability. She shows the potential for further growth and success. The finalists are: Aimie Peters (Pretty Little Pieces Boutique Inc..), Jolene Watson (Clarity Coaching and Development), and Katrina German (Ethical Digital).
The Resilience award is presented to the Saskatchewan woman entrepreneur who has shown strength and determination during 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: Corliss Rassyle (Corliss Co. Consulting Inc.), Daysha Shuya (Brownstone Health), Jolene Watson (Clarity Coaching and Development), Katelyn Sebastian (Driftstone Consulting), and Marian & Amanda Perrot (1st Choice Graphics).
“I am pleased to announce this year’s finalists for the WESK Summit Gala. Throughout the past year, these women entrepreneurs have demonstrated major accomplishments that should not go unrecognized. Their passion is evident, and their resilience is inspiring. I look forward to celebrating these women further at the Gala in May.”
Prabha Ramaswamy, CEO of WESK
- 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 (Women Entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan Economic Statistics, 2020).
- Women-owned businesses have a greater propensity for job creation. These businesses are contributing 26% of total GDP and employing approximately 33% of the Saskatchewan workforce (Women Entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan Economic Statistics, 2020).
- Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, women-owned businesses in Saskatchewan were 10% more likely to remain open compared to the national average. They also had a greater likelihood reopening after a temporary shutdown (Women Entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan, 2021).
- Women in Saskatchewan are starting businesses at a greater rate than the national average. From 2018 to 2020, Saskatchewan’s growth rate was 1.7% compared to the national average of 1.4% (Women Entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan, 2021).
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 Prairies Economic Development Canada.
2. WESK Summit
Josie Fries, Marketing Advisor, WESK
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