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New rural ambassador program to address gender entrepreneurship gap

A new Rural Ambassador Program will support current and aspiring women business owners with the resources, mentorship and networking opportunities they need to start and grow their businesses.

The connections women business owners make will empower them and provide a source of inspiration by being part of a larger community of like-minded entrepreneurs who support each other as they strive for success.

Sponsored by the Women Entrepreneurs Saskatchewan (WESK), CEO Miriam Johnson said the program will see to it that women entrepreneurs throughout the entire province can reach their full potential in their own communities.

“Providing support to women-owned businesses in the regions where they live will ensure they have access to everything they need to start or grow their businesses,” Johnson said. “This easily accessible support in rural regions will help build stronger communities and sustainable economic development.”

Johnson said women face unique circumstances. In some cases, banks will not approve a loan but WESK will.

“When we’ve got a really great business concept we can take the risk. Your credit may not be where it needs to be. Women haven’t had the ability to build it like men have, so there are times like that, that we can take more risk,” she said. “They are getting no’s from banks and other financial outlets; they will largely receive a yes from WESK.”

Five regional ambassadors, who are business owners themselves and have a passion for entrepreneurship, will serve as connection points within rural communities to support women at every stage of their business-ownership journeys, according to Johnson.

“Why don’t we utilize these woman that have already done programs with us? They know the resources we can provide and support them in sharing our news. We thought creatively on how we can amplify our impact which was where our ambassador program was born,” she said

The regional ambassadors will also facilitate networking, mentorship, and promotional opportunities through local WESK Connect events, trade shows and ongoing efforts to showcase women-owned businesses in their communities.

The program is funded through Prairies Economic Development Canada to the tune of $450,000.

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