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Government funding aims to aid newcomer women entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan

The Governments of Canada and Saskatchewan are providing funding to help newcomer women entrepreneurs in the province.

A sum of $255,000 is going to Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan Inc. (WESK) for its newcomer training support program that aims to help 25 newcomer women to start or expand their business.

“Joining WESK changed my business journey,” WESK member and owner of Little Patch of Heaven Daycare Ana Liza Carlos said. “The support from my advisor, Alauna, and the resources I received were so helpful. WESK gave me tools, templates and, most of all, confidence to run my business in Canada.”

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Carlos said she was originally from the Philippines and moving to Canada wasn’t easy.

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She said the cold weather can be tough to face when you come from a tropical country, and they also faced a language barrier.

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“We embraced every challenge as a family.”

She said she has always wanted her own business, but said that came with its own set of challenges.

Frances Meyer, program coordinator with the Women’s Business Hub spoke about how this money could benefit immigrant women coming to Saskatchewan.

“Every support our immigrant women receive in starting a business could go a long way. That could mean this would be a great support in terms of them receiving guidance, mentorship or possibly even financing, which a lot of our business owners or immigrant business owners are starting from scratch when they’re coming here to Canada,” Meyer said.

The Women’s Business Hub offers services as part of the Saskatoon Open Door Society to help women settle and integrate into the community.

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Meyer said women entrepreneurs can face challenges like a lack of supports for financing, knowledge and awareness around banking, or receiving mentorship.

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“Women who are newcomers face unique challenges that impact their ability to fully participate and succeed in society,” Women and Gender Equality and Youth Federal Minister Marci Ien said. “This includes language barriers, discrimination, and difficulties in accessing services and support. These obstacles also put immigrant and refugee women at higher risk of experiencing gender-based violence. By supporting newcomers and especially those who are female entrepreneurs, we are creating pathways for success, and a more equitable and inclusive society for all.”

“Increasing female participation in the labour force and ensuring equal opportunity for all is a priority for our government and a key component of the labour market strategy,” Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Office Laura Ross said. “Through this funding, we are also expanding our support for newcomers to reach their full potential and contribute to Saskatchewan’s growing economy.”

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Ross said since 2007 female employment has increased by over 40,000 jobs, which she said reflects Saskatchewan’s growing population.

WESK has offered training programs since 2017, focusing on Indigenous women, women in tech and women in remote and rural communities.

WESK CEO Miriam Johnson said this investment is helping cultivate a more inclusive business landscape in the province.

“Through tailored programs and strategic partnerships with newcomer support organizations, we are dedicated to equipping these women with the skills, knowledge, financial support and resources they need to succeed as they adjust to their new home province and country,” Johnson said.

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