TORONTO, May 9, 2022 /CNW/ - Today, Visa Canada announced the 10 recipients of the third round of its She's Next Grant Program in Canada. The She's Next Grant Program supports women entrepreneurship, empowering growth and innovation, through a grant of $10,000 CAD and one-year of business coaching, in partnership with IFundWomen. Through the grant program and IFundWomen's network of women-owned businesses and mentors, recipients will gain access to funding, coaching, and connections to help expand their businesses.
In what was expected to have an economic recovery year, coming out of the pandemic, less than 50% of businesses in Canada finished 2021 fully open with no restrictions. As we look ahead, however, there is growing optimism among small businesses with more than four out of five (86%) feeling optimistic about their future coming out of the pandemic1. However, nearly half (45%) of Canadian businesses continue to require some form of financing2. This is particularly true for a growing number of women business owners3, and Visa remains passionate about supporting these entrepreneurs.
"Women entrepreneurs deserve the funding and support needed to allow their businesses to flourish," said Stacey Madge, president and country manager, Visa Canada. "Women-led businesses were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, and we hope our continued support will help build on the growing optimism we are seeing. This year's recipients continue to embody the creativity, perseverance and perspective required of successful small business owners. In addition to being innovators and job creators in their own right, they are truly an inspirational and diverse group of women who represent the backbone of our economy."
This round of She's Next Grant Program recipients span diverse industries from fashion, beauty and wellness to education and social services, each with unique offerings:
- Beeja May, Toronto, ON: Beeja May is an online store with a mission to slow down fast fashion. They provide sustainable shopping options for families by offering pre-loved and rescue children's and maternity/nursing apparel, books and accessories.
- CASE, Toronto, ON: Through a siloed collection bin service for single-use plastic, CASE enables businesses to divert from landfill, one of the most popular types of consumer plastics, takeout containers. The containers are then picked up and sorted locally for reuse and recycling, enabling a circular economy model.
- Cooks Who Feed Inc., Mississauga, ON: Cooks Who Feed is a social enterprise, uniting food lovers to end hunger. The company ethically produces kitchen textiles with a give-back model, providing meals to alleviate hunger. Their flagship product, their handcrafted aprons, provides 100 meals for every apron sold. All their textiles are handmade in India where they provide safe, fair trade work to marginalized women.
- Elleboxco Incorporated (dba Blume), Surrey, BC: Blume is the go-to acne fighting, healthy skin focused, skin barrier boosting brand. They create skin, body and period care products that help consumers become the very best version of themselves.
- Maguire Shoes Inc/Chaussures Maguire, Montreal, QC: Maguire design original shoes and accessories, and partner with hand-picked manufacturers around the world to produce them. Then they sell directly to customers, through their website, pop-ups, and boutiques.
- MFMG Cosmetics (Makeup For Melanin Girls), Toronto, ON: MFMG (a.k.a Makeup For Melanin Girls) is a community-driven beauty brand that creates products tailored to multicultural consumers.
- Sea Smart, Vancouver, BC: Sea Smart's mission is to inspire and empower kids to love and protect our oceans. Founded by marine biologist Dr Elaine Leung, Sea Smart delivers fun, innovative education programs including school workshops, summer camps at the beach, shoreline cleanups, and online programs to help kids foster curiosity and connection with nature and empower them to be ocean heroes.
- Shivanesce Wellness Inc., Vancouver, BC: Yurn by Shivanesce is a wellness-focused online store created by a team of female BIPOC mental health professionals. Through their products, Yurn's goal is to make self-care an essential part of healing in our daily life while prioritizing psycho-education and wellness strategies. They aim to build an informed and empowered community of mental health advocates.
- Sitti Social Enterprise, Oakville, ON: Sitti is a conscious lifestyle brand committed to the self-reliance of refugee and displaced communities through long-term employment opportunities and skill development training, empowered by an inclusive global economy.
- Unika Swimwear, Toronto, ON: Ūnika was created with a clear vision in mind: to provide custom inclusive swimwear available in XS-4XL to cater to all regardless of age, shape, or size. They aim to empower every person, by helping them recognize and appreciate their own individuality – their end goal is to make one feel confident in a swimsuit, as everyone should.
Since the start of 2020, Visa has awarded over US$1.6 million dollars in grants and coaching memberships to women across the globe through its She's Next Grant Program. In Canada, Visa furthers its commitment by way of its extended Canadian grant program, and with initiatives like the Visa Canada Small Business Hub which has programs and solutions to support small businesses in driving efficiency and sales through the expansion of e-commerce, digital payments, marketing, and more.