May 2018

Message from the Chair 
If you spend any of your time looking at the megatrends predicted to impact our world over the next 10 to 20 years, you will be struck by the fact that the future is seen mostly through the lens of science and technology. Aside from demography and globalization, almost every source cites technology, and particularly AI, machine intelligence and digitization as the most potentially disruptive.
Every sector will be influenced by an ever-changing array of technologically-advanced solutions that will affect the way we do things. Women’s businesses are primarily in the service and retail sectors which are poised to undergo revolutionary changes in customer service automation and streamlined products and services to meet an ever-changing kaleidoscope of opportunities.
Women need to be aware of affordable and appropriate technological means to increase productivity and profitability to better serve their markets. While technology adoption is paramount, wouldn’t it be wonderful to see more women involved in developing those technologies and innovative solutions?
More women in STEM! More women in technology incubators! More women learning code and putting their minds to creative applications that change our lives for the better!
As supporters and enablers of women’s business growth, what can we do to help make this happen?
Happy almost spring, (here on the prairies at least)
In this issue: 
  • Feature theme: Technology
  • Hot topic: Stories from the trenches
  • WEOC member organizations
  • BWIT: TCS Cleantech Global workshops
  • Resources: Curated content from around the web
  • Sponsored blog: Tech tips for a better work-life balance
  • Upcoming events
Feature theme: Technology
WEOC and its member organizations are building Canada's economy by helping women entrepreneurs through all phases of their business cycle, whether they're just starting out or looking to grow and scale operations nationally or internationally.

This month we're featuring technology as a theme. Please share these resources with your members.
Only 5% of Canadian tech companies have a female founder
As an organization focused on supporting female entrepreneurs and building the Canadian economy, research indicates that the tech sector continues to be a predominantly male-dominated space. A report released on November 1, 2017 shines a light on the opportunities to build diversity and strengthen the tech future of our country.

Excerpt from MaRS news release issued on November 1, 2017.

#movethedial, a movement focused on increasing the participation and advancement of women in technology in Canada, released its benchmark report  Where’s the Dial Now?  amid growing discussion about the gender gap in Canada’s technology sector.

Co-authored by #movethedial, PwC Canada and MaRS, and sponsored by Ceridian,  Where’s the Dial Now?  examines the current state of women in the tech and innovation community in Canada.

The report’s key findings include:
  • Only 5% of Canadian tech companies have a female founder. When companies with male and female co-founders are factored in, the percentage of tech companies founded by women increases to 13%;
  • Only 5% of Canadian tech companies have a female CEO;
  • Women make up 13% of the average tech company’s executive team;
  • 53% of tech companies have no women executives;
  • On average, only 8% of directors are women, while 73% of boards have no women at all;
  • Approximately 30% of Canadian venture capital firms have a female partner.

Given Canada’s growing visibility on the world’s technology stage,  Where’s the Dial Now?  sets the bar for the future, say Ilse Treurnicht, CEO, MaRS. “We simply can’t bring the required talent into our growth firms fast enough, or build businesses that truly matter with women on the sidelines. We need a serious reset — from the way women are engaged, treated, valued, funded and supported — at all levels, and across the full innovation life cycle. Without this reset, our innovation ecosystem will remain undifferentiated and subscale, and our economy and our communities will suffer.”
Women in CleanTech Challenge -- Natural Resources Canada

Do you have a member in your organization with a cleantech idea? Let them know about this million dollar challenge!

The Government of Canada is issuing challenges to Canadians and global innovators to generate innovative solutions to some of the biggest issues that face Canadians and their communities. These challenges reward the best ideas and focus on achieving stronger social, environmental, and economic outcomes for citizens.

Challenge details

Applicants must be
  • A woman
  • A Canadian citizen
  • The main innovator/individual leading the project

Key dates
  • Deadline to apply: July 13, 2018
  • Grand Prize Winner announced: March 2021

  • Five Finalists will receive $115,000 a year for 2.5 years for living and travel expenses
  • One Grand Prize Winner will receive $1 million to continue building her business
Hot topic: Stories from the trenches
An interview with tech company founder, Mariette DeGagn é
Mariette DeGagné , Owner and CEO, Vari Tech Systems, is an award-winning entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in business management, computer training, and software development and delivery. Mariette brought to market childcareproTM Canada’s first web-based childcare management software .

Can you please share a bit about your business?
In 2001, I was running my own training company and worked with the Manitoba Child Care Association to develop customized workshops to introduce computers in the sector. At the time, there were very few child care centres using computers. I saw a need in the marketplace to help the Manitoba Child Care Association use a specialized software platform to manage client records instead of relying on fragmented, paper-based processes.

As an entrepreneur in a technology industry, what was your experience in getting funding or other supports you needed to launch your business?
When I approached other businesses for support as I was doing my research, I found myself in a man’s world. I remember going into a bank and talking to someone who thought I was trying to help out a neighbour with some babysitting, so I had to educate them on the industry and bring the conversation to a higher level, both as a female entrepreneur looking to start a technology company but also in an industry that was misunderstood -- childcare is like a school system, but underfunded and under recognized.

What advice would you give to other women who are looking to start up technology businesses?
Don’t give up on your dream. Reach out to people who can support you. Get the resources that you need and seek out other business owners or organizations that can help you.

What changes do you hope to see in the future to allow more women entrepreneurs to start in the technology industry?
I took the slow and steady approach and spent 2 years researching my business before launching the first pilot. Not everyone is going to have that kind of time horizon. The tech industry changes quickly and it’s important to have a sense of urgency if you have an idea of where you want to go.

I had to do a lot of work on my own to get connected to the right people who could help me at pivotal points in starting and growing my business. Getting connected with Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba, Conseil de Développement économique des municipalités bilingues du Manitoba (CDEM) and Business Develpment Bank of Canada (BDC) were turnaround points for me. 

Moving forward, I’d like to see a specialist within existing government programs develop a centralized place with access to all of the programs and supports that women who start technology companies need help them strategically grow their businesses. It’s hard when you’re first starting out. I speak with entrepreneurs today who are having the same problems that I did when I first started. Getting capital to move forward was a big problem because I wanted to work in an industry that was misunderstood and not widely recognized. We can do more not only to support women tech entrepreneurs, but to widen the scope of the industries these women work in and break down traditional barriers associated with them.
Monthly feature: WEOC member organizations
Peer mentoring groups starting in British Columbia for women entrepreneurs in tech and innovation
Starting in May 2018, Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) is offering a mentoring program for BC women entrepreneurs in tech, called  Discovery Foundation’s EM3 (Entrepreneurial Mindset Mastery & Mentoring) Program.

Four experienced tech CEOs have volunteered to share their knowledge, insights and networks with mentees. They will facilitate a peer mentoring group for up to 8 entrepreneurs, and lead them through six 2-hour sessions over 6 months. 

“This program helps women business owners who work in tech create a peer network and tap into the investment, support and programs available for women working in this high-growth industry while gaining support and encouragement from like-minded women,” says Laurel Douglas, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre.

The EM3 program is designed to help entrepreneurs:
  • Access a peer network of female founders who face similar challenges
  • Get insights from an experienced woman mentor
  • Develop the mindset of a forward-thinking entrepreneur using the Entrepreneurial Mindset Profile
  • Give their business a solid foundation for growth
Rosalind Lockyer named International Woman of the Decade
Rosalind Lockyer, founding Executive Director of PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise and co-founder of the national Women’s Economic Council, was named an International Woman of the Decade for Community Leadership at the Women Economic Forum 2018 in New Delhi, India. The Women of the Decade in Community Leadership is the highest attainable award presented by the Women Economic Forum.

The esteemed global Awards were introduced to acknowledge and reward the exceptional work and strong results of female trailblazers around the world. Lockyer travelled to India at the end of April to receive the award and share her incredible success story in front of more than 2,000 women and men from 150 countries.

Rosalind stated “The news of this award had been the most humbling experience of my career. It has been my lifelong passion to empower women to start, grow or build new opportunities for themselves, their families and their communities. With the right networking, mentoring, collaboration and support close to home, I have had the privilege to witness thousands of women realize their dreams and have incredible positive impacts across Canada. It is my honour to be part of their journeys and experience their remarkable growth and contributions.”

Congratulations Rosalind!
Business Women in International Trade (BWIT)
TCS Cleantech Global Workshops

Are your members looking to capitalize on export opportunities? Are they using all the tools available to grow an international business? The Trade Commissioner Service’s (TCS)  Cleantech Global  will introduce them to the key government programs and services that can help their business capitalize on growing global market opportunities.

Why should your members attend Cleantech Global?
  • Hear how successful Canadian exporters leveraged government programs and services
  • Talk one-on-one with government representatives during the workshop’s B2G (business-to-government) session
  • Take away knowledge to help increase their international reach

Save the date for BWIT's upcoming workshop:

Friday, May 25 with Ecotech Quebec
Montreal, Quebec

For more details on the workshop and to register, visit:
Reading from around the web
A collection of curated articles to help you grow and develop female entrepreneurs
Sponsored blog
Add time to your day: Tech tips for a better work life balance
Burning the candle on both ends? This post provides easy ways to strike a better work life balance and to relieve some pressure with the help of technology.

As a business owner, you’re expected to be everywhere, give explicit instructions, and do everything (if you want it done right)—all just to put food on the table. How can you get a little relief from carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders?

Technology can come to the rescue. These 7 tips can help take away a little stress, so you can focus on what matters most to you.

Work life balance tips
  1. Virtual face-to-face
  2. Delegate to your virtual assistant
  3. Take your time
  4. Sleep better at night
  5. Increase your throughput
  6. Declutter your devices
  7. Use some psychology
Upcoming events
WESK: Celebration of Achievement Gala & Entrepreneur Awards
May 23, 2018 
Regina, SK | Learn more
EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women
Deadline to nominate or apply -- June 4, 2018 
The Entrepreneur Conference
May 30, 2018 
Vancouver, BC | Learn more
Startup Canada Awards
May and June 2018 
Across Canada | Learn more
BWIT Trade Mission: WBENC
June 19-21, 2018  
Detroit, MI | Learn more
#Movethedial Stories Calgary
June 20, 2018 
Calgary, AB | Learn more
WEOC Board

Sandra Altner , Women's Enterprise Centre of Manitoba
Paula Sheppard , Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs
Laurel Douglas , Women's Enterprise Centre of British Columbia
Marcela Mandeville , Alberta Women Entrepreneurs
Ruth Vachon , Femmes, Affaires et Développement
Prabha Mitchell , Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan    
Want to become a member of WEOC? Interested in resources for women entrepreneurs and women entrepreneur support organizations? Find these and much more at our website: