SMRT WOMEN | Winner of the 2018 Entrepreneur Support Award – North
“Failure is not a bad thing, but a way to better hone your ideas”
SMRT Women was initiated by entrepreneurs and community activators Sofia Fortin and Selene Vakharia.
Inspired to take action to bring the support, funding and mentorship gap for women entrepreneurs, Smart Women was born.
Smart Women is an initiative that offers programs, events, and workshops to women entrepreneurs in the North to build the skills and connections they need to thrive at every stage of their venture development. It has grown into a strong network of women entrepreneurs, focused on growth through ‘mutual mentorships’.
To date, nearly 200 women have directly benefited from its programs and events. Smart Women is driving the development of a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem for women entrepreneurs.
Startup News had the opportunity to sit down with Selene to learn more.
SN: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
SV: I have always loved the field I was in and wanted to find the way that I could use my passion for marketing and design to bring about change – whether by helping community and arts organizations to meet their goals or by helping individuals to realize their dreams and potential.
SN: What advice do you have to those starting up today?
SV: To find the place where your passion intersects a problem. Starting a successful business is not about a product or service, it’s about providing a solution that will make someone’s life better and easier. Using that framework, use research and evaluation to help guide you – failure is not a bad thing, but a way to better hone your ideas.
SN: What is the one thing you think we need to do as a nation, today, to position Canada as a global innovation and entrepreneurial leader?
SV: Support women in business to start and scale their businesses with capacity building, community, support and policies.
SN: What is your message to the world?
SV: There are so many women in the North that are creating amazing businesses and have an admirable drive to make it happen and to support one another. It has been incredible since the beginning to see and be part of the energy these women bring to our events, programs, and the whole community, and to see collaborations and friendships being created and realize that we were a part of making that happen.
SN: How have you benefited from being a recipient of the Startup Canada Awards so far?
SV: I think that it has helped us to know that we’re headed in the right direction.