Women's Program Funding in Action
Muskoka Community YWCA

Bracebridge, Ontario

Enterprising Women: Enhancing Small to Medium-Sized Women-Owned Businesses in Muskoka

Muskoka YWCA meeting

The Muskoka area is reaping the benefits of a project to help women business owners gain access to better financing and business supports, networking opportunities, mentoring and training and other opportunities available to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The recently completed project carried out by the Muskoka Community YWCA, targeted women operating their own businesses in the region’s rural areas. Organizers developed a practical, easy-to-use business tool for financial partners to help rural women entrepreneurs overcome barriers to success, including undervaluing of training and experience, family and child care pressures, limited or lack of access to credit, transportation and communications issues. A critical part of the project’s success was the businesswomen’s use of Contact North, a groundbreaking e-learning platform for women in rural and remote areas, to participate in peer mentorship and networking webinars.

“The first morning of the course I woke up feeling very frustrated about certain obstacles I was facing in my business ... so much so that I was entertaining moving on to another career (which one I did not know). By the end of the first day, my attitude had made a complete turnaround and I now feel more enthused and more equipped to face my challenges”

(project participant)

“The Enterprising Women project gave YWCA Muskoka an opportunity to really connect with women entrepreneurs in the six small communities that make up Muskoka. It also gave women entrepreneurs in these smaller communities a chance to connect with one another face to face. Many mentor-like relationships were built. We saw the younger women helping and offering advice on social media and online marketing strategies and the more experienced women offering advice on sustainability and growth. The energy and the excitement around sharing and networking were wonderful.”

Susan Lovell, Coordinator, Enterprising Women project
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