TORONTO - What better way to empower women than to support, inspire and motivate their entrepreneurial endeavours. The City of Mississauga continues that mission in their second annual Women’s Entrepreneur Conference.
In a continuation of celebrating women this week, following International Women’s day, Mississauga’s Economic Development Office hosted the conference on March 9. This year, the event went virtual on account of Covid-19 safety protocols.
Despite making up half of the Canadian population, females are under represented in professional leadership roles compared to men.
In terms of small and medium enterprises, only 15.6% are owned by women compared to 63.5% owned by men. Working towards ways to minimize the “gender gap”, the theme of this year’s conference was: Reinventing in times of change. Most befitting, especially while trying to navigate the world of business during a pandemic.
One central message from the organizers and speakers at the conference was to embrace change in business and technology. Another focus was learning how to pivot and adapt to a changing marketplace and being more accessible to the online world.
Multiple Covid-19 lockdowns have forced many small businesses to shutter their doors, some permanently. For the ones that are hanging on, the 100+ days of lockdown have been a challenge.
Learning how to leverage support and build a community of networks is essential to the sustainability of many businesses. Initiatives like the Digital Main Street Program is one part of Mississauga’s Economic Recovery Plan. It is one way in which the City is helping support local main street businesses stay open and achieve digital transformation, says Donna Heslin, manager of Small Business Entrepreneurship & Innovation for the city of Mississauga.
Knowing how to access financial supports and grants through various levels of government can prove helpful in building a sustainable business. The City offers additional supports through webinars, advisory services, mentoring and starter programs to help entrepreneurs achieve their goals. This year’s conference hosted three charismatic speakers. First was Susan Niczowksi, President and founder of Summer Fresh. For three decades, the family-owned Canadian company has been offering deliciously fresh foods such as hummus, dips and salads and much more to foodies all over North America.
Participants of the event also heard from Mona Halabi, co-owner of Supermoon. First opened in November 2017, the Mississauga based bakery offers delicious Japanese style cheesecakes and other delectable desserts. Even more amazing is the business expanded to a second Mississauga location in November 2020, while in the midst of a pandemic. The Corriere asked Halabi what advice she can offer to other women looking to start their own business. “Be unique and find your niche”, she said.
Another speaker at the event was Cher Jones, owner of Socially Active. Jones is a social media trainer specializing in helping corporate professionals develop a powerful brand online, especially in business.
Jones told the Corriere, “how you show up online matters”. When asked what advice she has for people interested in entrepreneurship, she said: “take inventory of the skills and value you bring to any organization. Learn how to articulate those traits to influence decisions”.
The enterprise owners spoke of the importance of adapting to the ever-changing consumer landscape while staying true to core values. Learning how to prepare for and shift with future trends are necessary to the success of any business.
In the pic above, Cher Jones e Mona Halabi; in the pic below, the conference