With financial support from Status of Women Canada, VCF is proud to be the administrator for the Women Entrepreneurs, Financing Opportunities for Growth (WE-FOG) project. The project is designed to reach women entrepreneurs, particularly newcomer (recent immigrant) women and Aboriginal women, who have the entrepreneurial talent and enthusiasm to scale up and grow businesses, but due to structural, programmatic or institutional/attitudinal barriers, may not have access to financial and technical supports and services to achieve that growth. This work is intended to inform a review of Vancity Credit Union's own lending and business support practices at Vancity, to raise awareness about the barriers within the credit union, and to share our learnings with other credit unions in order to better serve women entrepreneurs.
The WE-FOG project was officially launched in August 2011 and will run through until May 2013. We have completed the first set of project activities including:
- establishing internal and community stakeholder project advisory groups;
- surveying the landscape of existing supports (financial and advisory) for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses; and
- collecting data from service providers and entrepreneurs (interviews & focus groups) concerning how women and men operate as entrepreneurs.
The next set of project activities is centred around implementing a pilot project for female entrepreneurs -- 10 to 15 -- to go through a supported process (assigned business coaches, strategic networking opportunities) to develop a business growth plan. At the end of 6 months -- the pilot starts in June 2012 and runs through November 2012 - all entrepreneurs will make a business plan presentation/pitch for financing to a panel of Vancity and other financiers.
All costs associated with this initiative are being covered through financial support from Status of Women Canada. The successful women entrepreneur pilot participants will not be asked to pay project fees or otherwise pay for the consulting, advice and resources they will access throughout this pilot phase.
A key reason for framing the pilot this way is that we learned through earlier project activities that many women entrepreneurs want to grow their businesses but are just not sure how to go about it.
Our intention for this pilot initiative and the WE-FOG Project in general is to provide a model that can be adapted & replicated in other communities by community-minded financial service organizations interested in establishing more strategic approaches to better serve diverse entrepreneurial profiles.
Questions? Contact Joanne Norris
for more information about the project at 604.877.7505 or visit the WE-FOG website to learn more