Having a great idea for your business is the first step, but taking that idea to the next level can be a daunting prospect — especially if you’re not sure where to access resources.
That’s why we’ve created this list of both local and non-local resources to help startups and current business owners understand the options available to help make their entrepreneurial goals a reality.
Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development Business Advisory Centre
Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development’s Business Advisory Centre (270 George St. N., Suite 102, Peterborough) offers many free services for startups and small businesses.
One of these is Starter Company Plus, a regular program offered through the Business Advisory Centre with funding from the Government of Ontario. While the program is not gender targeted, many female entrepreneurs — including several members of the Women’s Business Network of Peterborough (WBN) — have received micro-grants under the program.
Starter Company Plus provides both training and micro-grants to both aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs. To be considered for the program, you must be aged 18 and older in the city and county of Peterborough, and either launching a business or expanding an existing business that’s been operating for five years or less.
“Starter Company Plus provides five weeks of in-class business training,” explains Madeleine Hurrell, entrepreneurship officer with the Business Advisory Centre. “In this training, you will work towards completing a professional business plan and develop a business pitch for your new venture or business expansion.”
Following the in-class training, all program participants have their business plan evaluated and reviewed by a panel of community judges. The judges also listen to each business owner pitch their business idea or expansion.
At the end of the program, six micro-grants of $5,000 are awarded to the top six participants, based on business merit.
WBN members who have received micro-grants under the program in the past include Jennifer Wight of Emily Mae’s Cookies & Sweets, Sarah Susnar of Play Cafe, Jane Davidson of Jane Davidson Writing Coach, Christine Teixeira of Accountability Financial, and Carlotta James and Megan Boyles of Three Sisters Natural Landscapes.
If you’re interested, the next intake of the program begins in September 2019. For more information, visit peterboroughed.ca/business-support/starter-company-plus/ or contact Madeleine Hurrell by phone at 705-743-0777 ext. 2136 or by email at email@example.com.
The Business Advisory Centre offers a lot more than Starter Company Plus, including regular sessions and workshops, a business toolkit, and one-on-one consultations. To find out more, visit peterboroughed.ca/business-support/.
Innovation Cluster Peterborough and The Kawarthas
The Innovation Cluster (270 George St. N., 3rd floor, Peterborough) provides a wide range of services to entrepreneurs including business idea validation, intellectual property protection, access to funding, business planning, marketing and sales strategies, as well as financial management.
One of the Innovation Cluster’s flagship services is The Cube, an incubation space for budding entrepreneurs launching innovation or technology-based startups. The Cube offers open-concept office space, high-speed internet, resources and support services, and more.
The Cluster’s Innovation Specialists specialize in coaching startups in the digital, agtech, and healthcare sectors, as well as those with a strong focus on clean technology. The organization works closely with other community organizations such as Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development, the Peterborough Region Angel Network, and Fleming College and Trent University to ensure startups find their best path to market.
Like other local economic development organizations, the Innovation Cluster’s services are not gender specific, but many of the Cluster’s clients have included female entrepreneuers including WBN members.
“Anyone in Peterborough and the Kawarthas looking to start and grow their business in the technology sector can greatly benefit from the services the Innovation Cluster has to offer,” says Rachel Stark, Communications Coordinator at the Innovation Cluster, who notes that Peterborough offers a unique entrepreneurial experience for those entering the business community.
Rachel explains that the diverse and continual networking opportunities and events that exist locally aim to connect women entering the business world. With so many initiatives, she believes Peterborough truly provides a great foundation for any woman looking to start her entrepreneurial journey in this area.
“I believe that local female entrepreneurship is increasingly being recognized within the community,” says Rachel. “You can see it through initiatives such as Inspire The Women’s Portrait Project, a photographic celebration of inspiring women nominated within the community, many of which have been women founders that have grown their business out of the Innovation Cluster.”
Several programs operated by the Innovation Cluster include FastStart events, hands-on seminars, the Cubs’ Lair competition for young entrepreneurs, and more.
For more information about available programs at the Innovation Cluster, including The Cube business incubator, visit www.innovationcluster.ca/programs/ or contact Rachel Stark at 705-536-1101 ext. 906 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Community Futures Peterborough (CFP)
Community Futures Peterborough (270 George St. N., Suite 103, Peterborough) offers flexible financing and business counselling services for businesses within Peterborough and Peterborough County. The organization supports business initiatives from the startup phase to business expansion.
CFP also works closely with other business organizations, such as Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development’s Business Advisory Centre. For example, while the Business Advisory Centre helps entrepreneuers develop a solid business plan, they may still require start-up funding, which Community Futures can assist with.
CFP executive director Gail Moorhouse (who is also a member of WBN) says the CFP team has the community relationships and a variety of skills firmly in place to assist businesses at any stage of business development.
“Last week I worked with a client who had recently closed their business but was still on the hook for the funds they had received,” Gail explains. “We worked out a solution to delay their payments until they got back on their feet. We also assisted with their resume and job search.”
Gail proudly notes that over the past two years CFP has served an equal number of women-led businesses. She is thankful that she doesn’t personally see inequality in lending to women, but she does note there are still many financial institutions where a spouse is required to co-sign for a woman, which can create a barrier to funding opportunities.
Despite these barriers, there has recently been a strong push to seek out, support, and invest in women-led business. For example, the federal government recently committed to advancing women’s economic empowerment with the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, an initiative that will invest $2 billion to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.
“We’re seeing more commitment to investing in women entrepreneurs,” says Gail. “It’s great to see more opportunities for women in business. Women always bring uniqueness to business in their specific skill set.”
For more information about CFP’s financing programs and services, visit communityfuturespeterborough.ca/financing-services or contact Gail Moorhouse by phone at 705-745-5434 ext 223 or by email at email@example.com.
Bears’ Lair Entrepreneurial Competition
Bears Lair, which will return in 2020, is an annual competition for entrepreneurs in Peterborough and the Kawarthas. The competition culminates with six finalists pitching their business plans to a panel of judges and the local community for the chance to win cash prizes.
Bears’ Lair is sponsored by Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development, the Innovation Cluster, Community Futures Peterborough, Mega Experience, and the Peterborough Region Angel Network, all of which offer valuable services to entrepreneurs in the local community.
In past competitions, several WBN members have been finalists, including Jen Wight of Emily Mae’s Cookies & Sweets and Melinda Masters of Melinda’s Custom Sewing and Upholstery, and several WBN members have also been semi-finalists.
For more information about Bears’ Lair, visit www.bearslairptbo.ca.
Peterborough Region Angel Network
The Peterborough Region Angel Network is a group of individual investors from the Peterborough area.
These investors collaborate and invest in early stage growth companies in four primary areas: information and communication technology, medical technology, green technology (cleantech), and biotechnology and life sciences.
The Peterborough Angels are also partnered with the Innovation Cluster. Prior to pitching a business plan to the Angel Network, entrepreneurs will receive training from Innovation Cluster staff to help them develop and refine their pitching skills.
For more information, visit www.peterboroughangels.ca.
Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation’s DELIA platform
The Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) in Cobourg is a sister agency of Community Futures Peterborough.
Recently, Northumberland CFDC received $1.4 million in federal government funding to implement a financial technologies (“FinTech”) lending platform called DELIA (Develop Educate Lead Innovate Accelerate). DELIA will provide an easy online application process and instant decisions on commercial loan applications up to $50,000.
The priority of DELIA will be investment in innovative women-owned and women-led enterprises in Eastern Ontario. Successful recipients will be automatically inducted into a concurrent program providing advisory support services, networking opportunities, accelerator space, and entrepreneurial skills development through Venture13 in Cobourg.
“DELIA is about calibrating our lending to innovative, women entrepreneurs using contemporary financial technologies,” says Northumberland CFDC executive director Wendy Curtis. “Yet it is not just a matter of fintech. We will work closely with a cohort of up to 30 high-potential women-led firms in enhancing their competitive development and scale-up through an all-inclusive suite of entrepreneurial support services and training.”
DELIA will launch on November 4, 2019. For more information, visit the Northumberland CFDC website at financingandstrategy.com/delia/.
Export Development Canada’s Women in Trade Investments Program
Export Development Canada (EDC) is a financial Crown corporation that provides insurance and financial services, as well as small business solutions, to Canadian exporters, investors, and international buyers.
On May 2, 2019, EDC announced a new $50 million Women in Trade Investments Program to help Canadian women entrepreneurs expand beyond Canadian borders. This program will help women-owned and women-led companies grow and scale their businesses by providing more access to growth capital.
For more information about the Women In Trade program, visit www.edc.ca/women-in-trade.
Startup Canada’s Women Founders Fund
Startup Canada is a national organization representing more than 200,000 entrepreneurs and 50 grassroots communities, which supports entrepreneurs in starting, operating, and scaling their businesses.
Startup Canada’s Women Founders Fund provides access to resources and empowers female entrepreneurs in an attempt to bridge the gap on entrepreneurial equal opportunity.
The fund provides micro-grants up to $5,000 for women entrepreneurs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to support business operations or business growth opportunities.
The application deadline for the 2019 fund is September 15th.
For more information and to apply, visit www.startupcan.ca/women-founders-fund/.
Farm Credit Canada’s Women Entrepreneur Program
Farm Credit Canada (FCC) is a Canadian agriculture lender that supports, strengthens, and celebrates the agriculture industry.
FCC’s Women Entrepreneur Program seeks to address three key needs for women in the agricultural, agribusiness, and agri-foods sectors: increased access to capital; access to business and competency skill development; and access to tools, resources, and field experts.
Over the next three years, FCC will dedicate $500 million to lending, enhancing educational events, and creating resources specifically for women entrepreneurs looking to start or grow their businesses.
If you’re a woman involved in agriculture and/or agri-food, the FCC’s Women Entrepreneur Loan can help you take the next step in starting or growing your business.
For more information about the Women Entrepreneur Program, visit www.fcc-fac.ca/en/we-finance/agriculture/women-entrepeneur-program.html.
PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise
PARO Centre is a business support and networking organization that strengthens women-led businesses and promotes community economic development across Ontario, excluding the Greater Toronto Area.
PARO (Latin for “I am ready”) provides community loans to help women start or grow a business. The organization also offers workshops, conferences, and events to support personal and professional development.
For more information, visit paro.ca/2013/.
Financing from Futurpreneur Canada
Futurpreneur Canada is a national, non-profit organization that assists aspiring entrepreneurs ages 18 to 39 in accessing financing, mentoring, and support.
Futurpreneur can help budding entrepreneurs turn their idea into a business plan, provide tools for starting and running a business, and help them build their business network.
Partnering with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Futurpreneur can offer collateral-free loans of up to $60,000 (up to $20,000 from Futurpreneur and up to $40,000 from BDC), with interest-only repayment in the first year.
For more details, visit www.futurpreneur.ca/en/get-started/financing-and-mentoring/.
Business Development Bank of Canada’s Women in Technology Venture Fund
The Business Development Bank of Canada’s Women in Technology Venture Fund is one of the world’s largest venture capital funds dedicated to investing in women-led technology companies.
The fund does this in three ways: by direct investment that provides financial support to companies that are women-level (female founder, co-founder, CEO, or executive); by indirect investment that provides financial support to companies with at least one woman partner and a commitment to investing in women-led technology companies; and by ecosystem development that works to ensure a self-sustaining ecosystem for women to thrive in business by providing mentorship, networking opportunities, and relevant tools.
In 2018-19, the fund reviewed more 1,000 women-led tech companies and has invested $17 million in 25 companies to date.
For more information about the Women in Technology Venture Fund, visit www.bdc.ca/en/bdc-capital/venture-capital/strategic-approach/pages/women-tech-fund.aspx.
Business Grants For Female Entrepreneurs In Canada
Many business grants are available exclusively for women and can provide the much-needed funding to take business goals to the next level.
For a list of business grants for female entrepreneurs, as well as some industry-specific grants, visit www.opstart.ca/a-guide-to-business-grants-for-female-entrepreneurs-in-canada/.
For more information about the Women’s Business Network of Peterborough, visit www.womensbusinessnetwork.net.