Visa Canada recently named ten women-owned small businesses among the recipients of its national grant program which was launched in February 2021 in partnership with IFundWomen, a marketplace for women-owned businesses.
These Canadian women entrepreneurs will receive a grant of CA$10,000 each and one-year of business coaching through IFundWomen to support, grow and expand their businesses, the company noted in a press release.
According to the Visa Canada Small Business Outlook Spring Survey, one in five women-owned small businesses in Canada indicated a grant would be helpful for near-term survival or growth. Furthermore, a $10,000 grant would cover at least half of the financing needs for over 60 per cent of these businesses.
“ln a pandemic-challenged world, women-owned small businesses are continuing to prove their resilience, demonstrating fierce optimism about the future of their business,” said Stacey Madge, president and country manager, Visa Canada, in a press release. “Visa is appreciative of their dedication and ongoing contributions to our communities, and proud to be supporting them through our grant program. We would like to congratulate the ten women entrepreneurs selected and look forward to empowering them through these grants and mentorship to keep going and thrive during these uncertain times.”
One of the grant recipients Amy Hall, founder of Victoria, B.C.-based Goldilocks Goods which produces an all-natural and eco-friendly alternative to plastic wraps, told IT Business she is using the grant money towards having a customized inventory software built for her company.
“The grant money is going to change our business and the flow and the ease with which we do business. There was a lot of logistical problems in trying to plan the inventory of the production side as well as the inventory of the finished product efficiently and then it going out the door through e-commerce through our Shopify stores,” Hall told IT Business.
Moreover, since Goldilocks Goods has two stores, a U.S. store and a Canadian store, Hall explained they face a lot of problems with the inventory software that exist in the market as 90 per cent of them would not connect well with both the stores.
“Ultimately we came to the conclusion that the best inventory software for us is one that we can customize and build from the ground up so that’s what we’re looking to do and it’s going to just make my entire team’s life so much easier in terms of managing the production as well as the shipping and all the things that go along with that,” she said.
Hall said they had been hoping and talking about implementing a customized inventory software internally for years, but kept going back and forth with the thinking since it’s a big investment and not an inexpensive thing to do.
“With the grant money, we’re going to be able to cover close to half of the expenses we would incur in having a customized inventory software built. It’s huge for us to be able to do that,” she said.
Other grant recipients chime in
Wink and Wave, Toronto’s first mobile beauty salon serving the GTA since 2014, said they are using the funds towards tech enhancements by revamping their website and launching their new app.
“We just added a press section to our website, we updated our service page and how you navigate to see all of the services on our site, we’re updating also the main menu tab and we just had a meeting about digital ads for social. We also have an ad on Indeed for more hires. In addition to the above, some of the funds are also going towards the new app we will be launching as soon our lockdown lifts! Our company is all IT being a mobile business and not brick and mortar,” Aimee Sloggett, founder of Wink and Wave told IT Business.
In the same way, Siuleen Leibl owner of rolled ice cream and ice cream shop Milksmith, said they are going to use some of the grant money to upgrade their online ordering site.
“We will be using some of our grant money to help fund upgrades to our online ordering site to include features that would allow our customers to digitally purchase an ice cream box filled with mini versions of our pints, for themselves or to gift. These boxes will be themed (for example, our Sundae brunch box filled with cereal/breakfast-themed flavours) and flavours will switch out. Every box will include at least one flavour that utilizes a local maker’s ingredients so we can continue to drive home our message of supporting local. Our mini pint gift boxes will help with being able to send loved ones a little taste of nostalgia and spread a bit of comfort and joy during hard times. Upgraded website features for example, would include being able to send a gift box with a personalized message. We hope that during any lockdowns, our new mini pint gift box service will continue to allow us to employ our staff for production and delivery,” Leibl explained.
About the grant program
An extension of Visa’s global grant program, the IFundWomen was launched in Canada on February 22, 2021, and Visa Canada accepted applications across all sectors until March 12. The company said it received over 900 applications.
Women entrepreneurs have a history of being underfunded and that remains to be a core issue, according to Sarah Steele, senior director of small business products at Visa Canada.
This year’s recipients span multiple industries from textiles, education and food & beverage, to professional services, beauty and wellness, each offering innovative solutions and products. The nine other grant recipients include Toronto, ON-based CurlShoppe and Wink and Wave; Hamilton, ON-based Durand Coffee; Brampton, ON-based She’s Newsworthy Media Inc; St. Genevieve, MB-based Long Way Homestead; Winnipeg, MB-based Milksmith Inc; Halifax, NS-based The Tare Shop; Saskatoon, SK-based The Local Kitchen; and Vancouver, B.C.-based Amoda.
“We continue to be extremely proud of our ongoing collaboration with Visa globally, and all that we have been able to accomplish so far through the She’s Next Grant Program,” said Karen Cahn, founder and chief executive officer, IFundWomen. “Visa walks the walk and is consistently offering funding and business resources to women-owned businesses around the globe, so partnering with them to launch the inaugural She’s Next Grant Program in Canada was a no-brainer.”
For more on the grant program and its recipients, check out the Visa Canada Small Business Hub.