Support for the work of women entrepreneurs in the Shuswap has taken another step forward.
On Nov. 18, 19 and 20, women gathered to share their entrepreneurial experiences and network with other female business owners in the area. They spent most of the evening at round tables, discussing the challenges and opportunities that Shuswap businesswomen experience.
The three evenings were part of the Tsuts’weye project, whose goal is to build skills, knowledge and networks to support women entrepreneurs of the Shuswap. The evenings started off with inspirational keynotes from Kathleen Seeley and Nicole McLaren, two successful entrepreneurs who encouraged women to face and embrace the challenges and opportunities before them.
“Many of the issues brought forward were what we might hear from any group of business people gathered anywhere, like social media marketing and business financing needs. However, we heard about challenges more specific to women running their own businesses,” said Carmen Massey, project manager. “Many described juggling childcare and transportation while trying to remain professional, and overcoming barriers where men in business are judged differently than women.”
She said women are hungry to network and gather support from one another.
“That was clear to us. They also want to see business development workshops to help them progress their businesses to the next stage.”
Julie John, diversity coordinator with the project, explained the information gathered will be used to shape the programs and meet the needs of women in the region’s communities.
“It’s my job to make sure all women are heard and respected in this project and programs are accessible to everyone. I will be putting a diversity lens on the work that we do and the programs we develop. I appreciated hearing all the voices in our round-table discussions.”
Next steps for the project are a monthly newsletter beginning in December, and creation of a series of workshops and networking events that will be rolled out in the coming months. The Entrepreneur In Residence program will launch in the new year, where women can meet with a business coach and receive one-on-one support, funded through the project.
“We look forward to the years ahead, where the Tsuts’weye project can truly make a difference in building up the skills for all women entrepreneurs of the Shuswap, whatever stage of business they’re at,” said Rob Marshall of Community Futures, project administrator.
He said the funding support from Western Economic Diversification Canada that allows communities to create such opportunities is much appreciated.
To sign up for the monthly newsletter or for more information, go to: www.tsutsweye.ca .