Unlimited Growth Potential for Women Entrepreneurs
Growing support network available to expand the under-utilized population of female entrepreneurs in Canada
By: Mara Paolantonio, Staff Writer
In September 2013, Forbes published a list of the 10 most powerful women entrepreneurs of 2013. This honour was awarded to a group of female CEO and founders who are the “builders of innovative, ground-breaking and game-changing start-ups.” Each generated revenues in the range of $1 million to $25 million.
While each honoree is exceptionally accomplished in the business arena, they also serve as big-picture thinkers and are leaders in their given fields. Adelaide Lancaster, Co-Founder of In Good Company Workplaces, believes that making the “Most Powerful” list also has to do with influence. “It relates to money raised, revenue made and growth of a business but it has a lot more to do with influence. Influence over an industry, influence on the status quo, and influence with regard in being a role model to others,” she says.
Nancy Cremins, a start-up lawyer, says that “power is the willingness and ability to lead, to make difficult decisions and to bring into effect meaningful change.” She believes community creators should be included in any “Most Powerful” list because they not only achieve success, but help others reach their potential as well. One example is Sharon Vosmek, the CEO of Astia, who created a company dedicated to “building women leaders and accelerating the funding and growth of high-potential, high-growth, women-led start-ups.” Initiatives like this one support the next generation of women entrepreneurs and promote success stories like those celebrated this year in Forbes.
One of the overarching themes in these stories is that success begins with passion, creativity and dedication to a cause. For instance, former software engineer and entrepreneur, Karen LeFave, used her writing talent and created the Nemecene series about the effects of pollution on ocean ecosystems. “I wanted to be a leader in writing about the pollution in the environment,” she says. “The inspirations for Nemecene came to me as I became increasingly concerned about the state of the Earth’s oceans and water supplies.” She sees writing as a natural extension of her talent for design, except that instead of using a computer screen or sketch pads, she harnesses the power of the written word.
While it is clear that women entrepreneurs have a great amount of potential, they are still an underutilized resource. Laura Cooper, an economist with Royal Bank of Canada, conducted a study that found women are majority owners of only 15.6 per cent of all small and medium-sized businesses in Canada. According to Cooper, Canada should increase the level of services for women to access entrepreneur networks and promote female role models. “The relatively low share of majority female-owned firms suggests female entrepreneurs represent an untapped resource of growth potential,” she says.
With opportunities for mentorship and an increasing number of start-ups like Astia, there is a growing support network for young female entrepreneurs. Here, they can discuss leadership qualities and find inspiration from the many women who have forged a trail in their respective fields. If there is anything that can be learned from “Most Powerful” lists, it is that tapping into creativity and using talent to give back is a winning combination. Achieving success as an entrepreneur “requires more than a good idea and a money making objective. Women are using their inspirational ideas, influence over an industry for creating a greater good and bringing meaning to the work they do.”
My name is Mara Paolantonio, I just graduated from York University Bachelor of Arts program, I studied Italian and Communication Studies.