Celebrating Young Women Entrepreneurs

Starting a business can be intimidating, but budding entrepreneurs can step out of their comfort zone and build their dream business with the right tools, resources, and guidance.

On October 18, 2022, The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) and Furturpreneur hosted an event for young women entrepreneurs to learn more about the resources and tools that are available to start and grow their business.

Sabine Soumare, Executive Director of WEKH, shared key WEKH research highlights, including insights from the most recent State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada report. “Studies show that by advancing gender equality and women’s participation in the economy, Canada could add up to $150 billion in the GDP,” Soumare shared, while also highlighting that women entrepreneurs contribute to broader economic, social, and environmental goals.

Futurpreneur Programs

Futurpreneur is the only national non-profit organization that provides support, financing, mentoring and resources to help aspiring diverse entrepreneurs across Canada aged 18 to 39. Over the past 25 years, Futurpreneur has “supported more than 15,000 entrepreneurs and over 12,000 businesses in each province and territory,” according to Audrey Marie-Nely, Business Development Manager for the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program at Futurpreneur.

Audrey Marie-Nely spoke about the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program, which was launched in 2021 and is tailored to support Black entrepreneurs. It provides up to two years of mentorship and financing, with the opportunity for entrepreneurs to apply for follow-on financing after completing the program.

Kenedy Horton, Business Development Manager at Futurpreneur, presented their core Startup Program, which is designed to help full-time entrepreneurs who are ready to launch their business. In the program, entrepreneurs receive up to $60,000 in financing and get matched with expert mentors for up to two years of mentorship. Horton also presented Futurpreneur’s Side Hustle Program, which is designed for entrepreneurs who are looking to launch a part-time business while working full-time.

Nicola Jones-Crossley, Business Development Manager at Futurpreneur, introduced the Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program. The program is tailored to support First Nations entrepreneurs who can receive up to $60,000 in financing and mentorship for up to two years. Jones-Crossley also spoke about the Newcomer Offering, which is designed for immigrants or newcomers who have lived in Canada for up to five years and are permanent residents.

Panelists share their experiences with Futurpreneur Programs

The session highlighted the experience of two former Futurpreneur program participants:

  • Rebecca Lecours, CEO of Éditions Maison Rose
  • Dr. Melvia Agbeko CEO of VIA Wellness Solutions

“Now I’m working for myself, for my project, my dreams.” – Rebecca Lecours

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Rebecca Lecours was inspired to become an entrepreneur because she wanted more autonomy, and she felt like she had something different to offer as a Black woman who grew up in Quebec. Lecours decided to start her own book publishing company with the help of Futurpreneur. Éditions Maison Rose is a Francophone book publishing company that offers romance fiction for francophone women.

“If I’m not going to take the chance in me, who is going to?” – Dr. Melvia Agbeko

Dr. Melvia Agbeko is a Naturopathic Doctor with over a decade of experience. Dr. Agbeko started her business with the help of Futurpreneur and shared that she believes that mentorship is key. VIA Wellness Solutions offers naturopathic and coaching services for women, ensuring that they experience wellness on all levels. 

“Your best idea is waiting on you and it’s only when you are ready.” – Dr. Melvia Agbeko

During the discussion, Rebecca Lecours said that she would have started her business much earlier if she knew what she knows today surrounding the programs, resources, and financing that are available to entrepreneurs. Dr. Agbeko followed up on Lecours’ thought and mentioned that “every little step that you have taken, even if it’s a thought process” is already a start.

To conclude this session, the panelists gave their piece of advice for new entrepreneurs. Lecours provided the idea of talking to experienced entrepreneurs to learn from them, and she also said that one should not be afraid of asking for help and getting the resources they need when they are starting a new business. Lastly, Dr. Agbeko mentioned that believing in yourself is key and new entrepreneurs should take action when they have ideas in mind for their business.

If you were not able to join us live, you can watch the replay here.


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