Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba | Winner of the 2018 Prairies Entrepreneur Support Award – Prairies
“Research has proven that gender-specific entrepreneurial supports dramatically increase the number of successful women entrepreneurs.”
Through business advising, training and financing, the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba (WECM) assists women entrepreneurs throughout Manitoba to start and scale their businesses.
The first organization of its kind in Canada, WEOC is pioneering a mission to unlock the full potential of women entrepreneurs since 1994. The Centre has trained more than 25,000 women and disbursed more than 25 million dollars to help promote their growth. Thanks to the centre’s advising and support, 75% of their clients stand strong in operation after their first five years, beating the odds.
Twenty-four years after its creation, WEOC continues to empower women entrepreneurs every step of the way.
Startup News had the opportunity to sit down with Sandra Altner, Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Enterprise Centre, to learn more.
SN: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
SA: Since we work with entrepreneurs, our organization had to develop a very entrepreneurial stance. We design innovative programs that speak to the needs of our clients, we take risks in our developmental lending and in experimenting with new ideas, we keep an eye on the trends that affect women entrepreneurs and are timely in our response to new opportunities. We are constantly inspired by our clients and their efforts to build successful business enterprises despite barriers and challenges.
SN: What is the biggest lesson you have learned to date?
SA: Research has proven that gender-specific entrepreneurial supports dramatically increase the number of successful women entrepreneurs. In turn, successful entrepreneurs create jobs, generate tax revenue and contribute to their communities.
Gender-specific support is more than simply having women deliver programs to other women. It is taking into consideration their learning styles, networking needs and family situations to ensure that information and supports are relevant and timely.
SN: What advice do you have to those starting up today?
SA: Entrepreneurs don’t need to start and grow their businesses alone. There is a range of supports available to entrepreneurs across Canada that can be tapped into at any business stage. These supports allow entrepreneurs to learn from the experiences of other business people and subject matter experts which will inspire and inform them in their preparation to start or grow a business and can save time, energy and avoid costly mistakes.
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?
SA: A consistent, integrated national strategy with a loan program that delivers gender-specific programs for women across the country that is supported by appropriate growth-oriented training, mentorship, and coaching delivered by professional and knowledgeable advisers with entrepreneurship experience.
SN: What is your message to the world?
SA: Women entrepreneurs are vitally important to the health and economic prosperity of communities and nations. Not only are they creating employment, but are generous supporters of community programs and initiatives.
SN: How have you benefited from being a recipient of the Startup Canada Awards so far?
SA: Due to the great media attention we have received, the profile of the Centre has increased considerably within our province.