Over $2 million committed to innovative women and gender-diverse enterprises in Canada that face significant barriers to success
Toronto – August 25, 2022 – At a time of significant economic uncertainty, Canada needs to make visionary investments in underfunded and often overlooked entrepreneurs and enterprises. The Canadian Women’s Foundation is playing its part by investing over $2 million in twenty-eight Social Purpose Organizations (SPOs) spearheaded by and for diverse women and Two Spirit, trans, and non-binary people in Canada.
Funded by Employment and Social Development Canada’s recently renewed Investment Readiness Program, this represents a pointed investment in Black, Indigenous, and racialized women, newcomer women, 2SLGBTIQI+ people, and other equity-seeking and serving entrepreneurs and organizations that face barriers to funding. It’s a community changemaking stimulus as well as an economic stimulus as Canada experiences reverberating impacts of the COVID-19 crisis.
SPOs advance social, cultural, or environmental missions at the same time they receive financial returns, part or all of which are reinvested in their socially oriented missions. Often operated by charities and non-profit organizations themselves, they straddle the line between business and service provision and pursue more than profit. In fact, they often function on the frontline of impactful change in their communities. In Canada, women and equity-seeking entrepreneurs are the under-recognized, under-supported champions of SPOs.
SPO Investees funded by the Canadian Women’s Foundation include Go Thrive Go Inc. and Amelia Rising Sexual Assault Centre of Nipissing as they launch a self-therapy app, Women in Need Society in Calgary as they expand a thriving retail store to employ women dealing with poverty, and Minwaashin Lodge: Indigenous Women’s Support Centre as they train First Nations, Metis, and Inuit women fleeing intimate partner violence in cultural crafting to build their economic stability.
These Investees will develop and/or scale up their social ventures or monetize their existing community-serving programs. Investees address a range of urgent gender justice-related matters like gender-based violence, employment, and homelessness and housing insecurity. In addition to operating funds, the Canadian Women’s Foundation will provide Investees with specially tailored training, one-on-one coaching, access to peer support, and more resources to build their business and changemaking success.
As a peer counsellor for a rape crisis line, Go Thrive Go Inc. Founder and CEO Nina Mistry says, “I saw firsthand how survivors struggle with flashbacks, anxiety, depression, and more.” But they may have to wait months for government-funded counselling, and private counselling can be unaffordable. On top of that, pandemic-spurred spikes in gender-based violence swamped crisis lines and limited their capacity to respond. “That’s when I thought of the Go Thrive Go app,” Nina says. She is partnering with Amelia Rising Sexual Assault Centre to develop this self-therapy mobile app, a tool designed to supplement overextended community-based sexual assault services and serve as an accessible resource for survivors in crisis. “This funding will play a significant role in developing our minimum viable product, which will be shared with rape crisis centres all over Ontario.”
“SPOs led by and for diverse women and gender-diverse people deserve this vote of confidence,” says Paulette Senior, President and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation. “When they’re supported to be the best they can be, the returns are remarkable. Their unique community and business innovations couldn’t come at a more critical time.” The Canadian Women’s Foundation’s 2020 pilot of Investment Readiness funding yielded promising results: ninety-seven per cent of SPOs reported an increase in knowledge of social finance, social innovation, and factors that could contribute to their social enterprise success.
“SPOs play an essential role in supporting the most vulnerable in our communities so that we can move towards a more equitable society. Black, Indigenous and racialized women and Two Spirit, trans and non-binary people often face the greatest barriers to success. As a result, they are best placed to find solutions that reduce those barriers. The Government of Canada is proud to work with its Readiness Support Partners, including the Canadian Women’s Foundation, to ensure SPOs are effectively equipped to carry out their important work,” says Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.
As another SPO Investee, Calgary-based Women In Need Society (WINS) will expand their MORE! Store, a bulk thrift store and warehouse. Revenue will go back into WINS’ community-facing programs, including House to Home for vulnerable women and families, Retail Ready for women building retail employment skills, and Warehouse Ready to help people secure stable employment in warehouses. “By investing in the expansion of the MORE! Store, WINS can do more to battle poverty,” says Karen Ramchuk, WINS President and CEO. “It’s just one of the ways WINS is directly helping Calgary women and their families move from surviving to thriving.”
About the Canadian Women’s Foundation
The Canadian Women’s Foundation is a national leader in the movement for gender equality in Canada. Through funding, research, advocacy, and knowledge sharing, we work to achieve systemic change.
We support women, girls, and gender-diverse people to move out of violence, out of poverty, and into confidence and leadership. Since 1991, our partners and donors have contributed more than $150 million to fund over 2,500 life-transforming programs throughout the country.
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