Empowering Female Entrepreneurship through Local Businesses and Networks in Ottawa
By Amanda Jeysing, Editor at Ignite Magazine
As the capital city of Canada, Ottawa is a prime location for booming businesses and entrepreneurial networking. Many businesses, established and start-ups, are more focused than ever on collaborating and creating awareness for minority groups that are disadvantaged in the marketplace.
Female entrepreneurship, specifically, uses a feminist approach within the business world in acknowledging the role women play in society as a result of traditionally being considered second-class citizens throughout Western history. The stereotypes about women are not productive, yet are still very prominent in an androcentric world of commerce.
Thus, the notion of women-helping-women has been a recent trend and has inspired several movements that are driven by the passion to include women in business environments. This includes the involvement of established businesses helping fresh graduates and current students with internships and funding opportunities.
Here are a few prominent local businesses in Ottawa that are dedicated to empowering females in the business world:
Women of Influence Ottawa
With the aim of supporting women’s career development, this North American based community reaches out to women professionals through event series, print and digital content, and women’s leadership courses.
Stephania Varalli, Co-CEO and Head of Media at Women of Influence Ottawa spoke to us about the organization’s vision.
“I like to say that we provide much-needed inspiration and insights. Through our events and content, we offer access to female role models, enabling women to see not only what is possible, but also to learn first-hand how they can achieve their own success.”
Women of Influence is unique due to their sense of community and large network base they use as part of the solution to the lack of female roles in the male-dominated business sector.
According to Varalli, they have the largest social media community among organizations of its kind in Canada. This allows them to be a voice representing women’s issues, and highlighting role models and other organizations in their field.
In terms of the current state of gender equality in the Canadian workforce, Varalli describes Women of Influence’s role as one that is focused on the individual level as much as possible.
“Our role with Women of Influence is more at the individual level; we help give women the tools they need now to succeed. Empowering women in this way enables them to be part of the solution as well.”
Social Media: @womenofinflnce
Network of Black Business & Professional Women
The Network of Black Business & Professional Women, also known as NB2PW, connects, inspires, and supports the development of Black business, entrepreneurship and professional women.
They acknowledge the intersection of gendered and racial identities and the ways these intersections affect an individual’s professionalism and role in a businesses setting. Their goal is to offer the opportunity to cultivate lifelong mentorship as well as develop healthy, fun friendships.
Elcho Stewart, Financial Security Advisor of NB2PW, talks about how the current state of the workplace hiring processes favour the white population, and that notions of inclusivity are hierarchically limited.
“It’s like Obama’s presidency—what are the odds and when will it ever happen again? This is the situation I saw and thought, ‘I’m sorry, the criteria is extremely skewed to favour white women and it’s not right’.”
Stewart adds that an example of limited inclusivity is the way companies and organizations are willing to have diverse people join different committees, but not the selection committee.
“We provide a platform, a space for women to network and to do business with each other, to critique and encourage each other and that we make darn sure that we seize any opportunity there is to recognize these women.”
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/WBNOttawa/
Organization of Women in International Trade Ottawa
This international organization, also known as OWIT-Ottawa, is a voluntary non-profit organization of women and men interested in international trade and business. The organization supports the advancement of women in international trade by providing networking and educational opportunities.
The organization’s mission statement is “United around the globe to foster international trade and the advancement of women in business.” The organization originated in the United States in 1989, and has spanned its network of over 2,000 members in over 30 chapters across the globe.
The Vice President (Legal) of OWIT-Ottawa, Alexandra Logvin, shares how the organization offers opportunities for professionals to engage with international trade.
“The uniqueness of OWIT is its diversity and international reach. International trade is a truly global phenomenon uniting people from various fields and professions. Exposure to this diverse network is enriching, advantageous, and opportune”
Logvin also says that OWIT-Ottawa’s events and seminars have been of first-class quality, and they are extremely appreciative of their location in Canada’s capital. Ottawa is a great location for providing access to other like-minded organizations that are always eager to work with.
“OWIT-Ottawa has undoubtedly been a great community achievement, having high-caliber professionals volunteering endless hours to the advancement of international trade and women leadership.”
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/owitottawa/?ref=br_rs
Ottawa as the capital region of Canada has a unique advantage of having access to government and non-government organizations, which provides many opportunities for business networking and education. These organizations further push the boundaries of this access to minority groups of professionals and are an excellent resource to tap into as a female in business.