In December 2020, it was reported that 97.9% of employer businesses in Canada were small businesses with 1-99 employees, and the business start rate for majority female-owned businesses was higher than for majority male-owned businesses. From the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub report on the State of Women’s Entrepreneurship from 2021, we know that in addition to gender bias and systemic discrimination, many women entrepreneurs experience barriers to financing, services, and supports.
These challenges are often increased for women from certain groups such as racialized or Indigenous women, women living with disabilities, or those identifying as LGBTQ2S+. Despite systemic challenges and the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, women business owners show immense creativity and resiliency as they start and grow their businesses.
Tuesday, March 8 is recognized as International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate women’s achievements, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality. The theme for 2022 is #BreakTheBias. We’re proud to support thousands of inspiring, strong, and bias-breaking women entrepreneurs and small business owners across Alberta. This International Women’s Day, we are sharing the stories of four women entrepreneurs and Business Link clients to inspire and challenge everyone to #BreakTheBias. Learn more about each of these incredible entrepreneurs below!
Morẹ́nikẹ́ Ẹniọlá Ọláòṣebìkan, Kemet Advanced Manufacturing Ltd
Meet Morẹ́nikẹ́ Ẹniọlá Ọláòṣebìkan, the CEO of Kemet Advanced Manufacturing Ltd, whose long-term goal is to provide facilities to African countries that are experiencing extensive medication insecurity and medication shortages. Kemet is currently focusing on a pilot facility in Edmonton. This pilot is a sandbox for the R&D of modular manufacturing facilities and processes alongside a proprietary app that allows them to understand and digitize medication supply chains.
Jacqueline Jacek, JACEK Chocolate Couture
Meet Jacqueline Jacek, Founder and Cocoanista of JACEK Chocolate Couture, which is an artisanal chocolate business that operates on a fashion business model, but that exists to spread joy. JACEK was started from a basement in Sherwood Park in late 2009 as a one-woman show, and now consists of a talented team of twenty-five who are equally committed to the shared JACEK values of joy, experience, excellence, teamwork, and artistry. JACEK has a flagship retail boutique in Sherwood Park, a partner location in Canmore, an online store that ships across Canada and a network of wholesale partners across western Canada.
Melanie and Chesare Francine, Beachi Neechi
Meet Melanie and Chesare Francine, Principal Owners of Beachi Neechi, a family-orientated beach volleyball facility with multi-business avenues. The facility Yêkaw ᔦᑲᐤ (Sand) Dome and a not-for-profit organization will support programming for various beach recreational sports to ensure accessibility to all. Beachi Neechi strives to increase Indigenous representation in beach volleyball and create a safe place for all treaty people to coexist harmoniously in the sport.
Kristen Hutton, Kreative Kustoms
Meet Kristen Hutton, Owner of Kreative Kustoms, a one-stop-shop collective boutique for all things local and custom. Her love for creating started at a young age; Kristen loved supporting local and wanted to give other small business owners an opportunity to showcase their products without having the risk and overhead of maintaining a storefront. In 2015 her hobby grew to a small home-based business relying on referrals through family and friends and as her client base grew over the years, she outgrew her basement office and needed more space. In November 2020, she decided to pursue opening a brick and mortar and has since grown from 30 vendors to over 100, celebrated 1 year as a storefront, won the 2021 Sherwood Park New Entrepreneur business award, and won Sherwood Park’s Best Boutique and Home Décor award.
More Resources for Women in Entrepreneurship
We work with women entrepreneurs every day at Business Link, helping them create clarity and confidence in their businesses. As we reflect on how we can help to #BreakTheBias during International Women’s Day, we hope the stories above inspire you to think about what this means for your business and the broader business landscape in Alberta.
To keep the momentum going, consider learning more about and supporting women entrepreneurs in Alberta through some of the events and organizations linked below.
Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enabling women to build successful businesses. AWE provides unique programs and services to women at all stages of business through advising, financing, mentoring, and network development.
The 2022 AWE Awards celebrating women in entrepreneurship are currently underway!
The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) shares research and resources on women entrepreneurs in Canada. Made up of 10 regional hubs, WEKH operates in both official languages and includes a network of over 250 organizations, reaching more than 100,000 women entrepreneurs.
Explore the See it. Be it. Database – a resource featuring profiles of successful women entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, sectors, experiences, and regions across Canada.
Formed in 2022, The Women’s Economic Council is the only national organization advocating for women-centered Community Economic Development (CED) in Canada, and the only organization that supports networks of like-minded organizations that help women-centred CED flourish across the country.
Check out the Hear This, From Her podcast, exploring entrepreneurship, financial sustainability, and economic security for every woman in Canada.