LAMBAC, partners to launch Northern Ontario Women in Business enhancement project

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Federal government provides LAMBAC with funding to launch the program

GORE BAY – On June 27, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour announced that LAMBAC was successful in its application to the Women’s Ecosystem Fund, receiving $1,375,000 on behalf of 25 Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDC’s) across Northern Ontario.

LAMBAC, along with their community partners, will be launching the Northern Ontario Community Futures Women in Business Enhancement Project.

This program will provide a combination of mentoring, training, workshops, networking opportunities and access to capital for women entrepreneurs across Northern Ontario and will allow local Community Futures organizations to tailor the programs to match the needs of women entrepreneurs in their area.

Women entrepreneurs will be able to access professional legal and financial advice to create or expand their businesses, marketing advice to help them grow and networking opportunities to share ideas and success stories with other women entrepreneurs.

Carolyn Dearing, business development officer at LAMBAC said, “this project will increase business success and improve revenue streams for women in rural areas where these services and mentorships are not offered or are not affordable on an individual basis.”

Ms. Dearing noted that in the federal government’s announcement on the funding, “the full and equal participation of women in the economy is not just the right thing to do, it’s good for the bottom line. That’s why the Government of Canada is advancing women’s economic empowerment with the first ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a $2 billon investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.”

Only 16 percent of Canadian businesses are owned or led by women and yet studies show that by advancing women’s economic participation in the economy Canada could add up to $150 billion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

“The Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy was announced on October 25,” said Ms. Dearing. “I then contacted all the other CFDCs in Northern Ontario and asked if they would like to be part of a regional application for funding and that I would be willing to take charge and complete the application.” 

“WES is a whole-of-government approach to helping women grow their businesses through access to financing, talent, networks and expertise.

I designed the program with all that in mind,” Ms. Dearing told the Recorder. “That’s why we will be setting up mentorships, group training workshops which will also open doors to networking opportunities.” Business women will have access to and be able to apply for business loans of up to $50,000 to use as they want, as long as they use it for instance for mentorship training, workshops with create speaking and networking.”

Ms. Dearing will be coordinating the program from the LAMBAC office in Gore Bay, noting that they will be adding an employee to their office with this initiative having been initiated and funded.

Mike Addison, general manager of LAMBAC noted there are 25 CFDCs in Ontario and “Carolyn had taken the initiative of looking into whether we (LAMBAC) could be involved, then called all the CFDCs in Northern Ontario to see if they were interested in the program through a conference call and once she had their support she applied for the funding on their behalf. From there the CFDCs will be able come to LAMBAC for funding as to what works in their area and, as long as it meets the criteria, they will be provided funding.”

“Carolyn deserves a lot of credit for undertaking all of this and hopefully it will lead to grow in terms of women owning and creating  businesses,” said Mr. Addison.

The (WES) complements the Government of Canada’s efforts to advance gender equality. These efforts include addressing pay equity, providing more affordable child care and putting an end to gender-based violence.

The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour and MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North said, “the women entrepreneurs and business leaders of Northern Ontario drive our economy forward and contribute to our communities every day. The economic empowerment of women is a priority. From supporting women in business to improving parental leave, our government has taken action on gender equality to create an economy that works for everyone.”