CanadianSME Small Business Magazine - March 2024 Edition

Page 1

CANADIANSME Empowering Canadian Small & ISSUE NO. 64 MARCH 2024 AllImages,trademarks,servicemarksandlogosreferredtoorappearinginthismagazinearethepropertyoftheirrespectiveowners. Bankingpartner Shippingpartner INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY 2024 Celebrating Accounting SoftwarePartner EmailPartner
SMALL BUSINESS SHOW 2024 #SMBshow2024 Register Now EMBRACING DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION FOR SMALL BUSINESSES A ONE DAY CONFERENCE AND A TRADESHOW JUNE 24, 2024 STARTS AT 9:00 AM Metro Toronto Convention Centre Accounting SoftwarePartner ShippingPartner EmailPartner GoldPartner SilverPartner

As the brisk winds of winter give way to the hopeful whispers of spring, March emerges as a month of transformation and celebration.

Dear readers, it is with great honor and a profound sense of responsibility that we present to you the March edition of CanadianSME Small Business Magazine. This special issue is dedicated to celebrating International Women's Day, a time to honor the achievements and resilience of women around the globe. Our focus this month is on "Women Entrepreneurship and Fraud Prevention," highlighting the dual themes of empowering women in business and safeguarding their endeavors.

In this edition, we are proud to showcase: Stories of women who are redefining leadership and breaking barriers in their respective fields, a look into the journeys of women who inspire us with their vision and determination, the latest innovations transforming the retail industry and how they impact women-led businesses, practical tips and insights for small business owners navigating today's challenges, an exploration of how technology, particularly cloud solutions, is empowering small and medium-sized enterprises.

This edition is a testament to our commitment to empowering women leaders. It includes various editorials like "7 Reasons Canadian SMBs Should Explore Cisco Meraki Solutions," "How Save Da Sea’s Plant-Based Seafood Caught a Wave of Success," and "Tech-Powered Progress: Closing the Entrepreneurial Gender Gap," among others. We shine a spotlight on Sana Mungroo, Cofounder of Curabit and SOHS, as our Businesswoman of the Month, and feature interviews with industry leaders like Oleg Tolchinsky, Faye Pang, and many more.

Moreover, this edition is equipped with an article on the "30 Most Inspiring Women to Follow This International Women’s Day" and special messages from various women leaders across Canada, to inspire and encourage women leaders and add to our celebration of International Women's Day.

Looking ahead, we are thrilled to announce the fifth edition of the CanadianSME Small Business Show 2024, focusing on "Embracing Digital Transformation for Small Businesses." Scheduled for June 24, 2024, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, this event promises to be a pivotal moment for SMEs ready to embark on a digital transformation journey. Don't miss out on this chance to transform your business in the digital age. Secure your spot now at

In closing, we extend our deepest gratitude to you, our readers, for your continued support and engagement. As we celebrate Black excellence this month, let us also renew our commitment to fostering an environment where diversity is not just recognized but cherished and where every contribution is valued.

We invite you to dive into this issue, engage with our content, and subscribe at for a continuous stream of enriching insights. Here's to a future brimming with innovation, resilience, and endless possibilities.

Warmest regards,

ISSN2562-0657(Online) PublishedbyCmarketingInc 2800SkymarkAvenue,Suite203, Mississauga,ON Canada L4W5A6 ThecontentsinCanadianSMEMagazinearefor informationalpurposesonly NeitherCmarketingInc, thepublishersnoranyofitspartners,employeesor affiliatesacceptanyliabilitywhatsoeverforany directorconsequentiallossarisingfromanyuseof itscontents Copyright©2024CMarketingInc Allrightsreserved Reproductioninwholeorpartofanytext, photographyorillustrationswithoutwritten permissionfromthepublisherisprohibited All Images, trademarks, service marks and logos referred to or appearing in thismagazinearethe property of their respective owners. wwwcanadiansmeca info@canadiansmeca canadiansme canadian sme canadiansme canadiansme

21 Digital Transformation in Canadian SMEs: Insights from Xero's Faye Pang


7 reasons Canadian SMBs should explore Cisco Meraki Solutions:


CanadianSME Small Business Magazine
DiscoveryX Conference and Trade Show
IN THIS ISSUE Canadiansme Small Business Magazine 82 Break Free From the Daily Grind: A Quick Guide For Small Business Success Helping the Small Stand Tall: How Constant Contact Empowers Small Businesses to Reach Their Goals 18 14 Protect Your Business: 5 Common Fraud Scenarios to Watch Out for in 2024
IN THIS ISSUE Canadiansme Small Business Magazine 70 72 The Nova Scotian Cookie Company bakes up success Head of Solutions Engineering at Cisco Canada
Tolchinsky's Vision for Data Privacy
Cisco Canada Tech-powered progress: Closing the Entrepreneurial Gender Gap 54


Why SMBs Need to Go Beyond Smoke and Mirrors Security


How Save Da Sea’s plantbased seafood caught a wave of success


Personalizing Succession: Lynx Equity Limited's Human-Centric Approach

The Influence of Women Leaders:

Canadiansme Small Business Magazine

Protect Your Business:

5 Common Fraud Scenarios to Watch Out for in 2024

March is Fraud Prevention Month, making this an ideal time to take a moment and get familiar with today’s trends in fraud.

More and more businesses have invested in fraud prevention technology to help protect their data, their employees and their customers from cyber threats However, companies remain vulnerable thanks to a common weak point – its people

Although your defenses today may be stronger than ever, modern cyberattacks against businesses use an element of social engineering to gain a foothold In other words, they tap into the vulnerabilities of the people working with or for your business to steal money, data or both After all, people are busy and typically eager to please – and may respond to an email without giving too much thought to who sent it, why they’re asking for something slightly unusual or whether the link is safe to click

That’s why it’s important for employees to be aware of some of the common ways they could be tricked into giving up a piece of information that would be useful to a cyber-criminal

“In this era where cybercriminals increasingly target the human psyche through sophisticated social engineering tactics, technology can fortify your defenses but it’s the vigilance and awareness instilled in your employees that serve as your human firewall and your frontline of defense. You can invest in the most advanced technology available, but without adequately trained staff, your defenses remain vulnerable to exploitation.”

14- CanadianSME-March2024

Here are five fraudulent social engineering tactics that target businesses:

CEO Imitation Fraud

In this case of fraud, a scammer hacks into the email of an owner, CEO or other high-ranking executive and sends a fake email to an employee requesting a financial transaction be made. Typically, they will ask to change the routing information for an account or make an out-of-theordinary deposit or transfer

Because the fraudster has been monitoring email activity, they know when the executive is out of town and that the request can’t be verified face-to-face

By the time the executive returns, the money has been sent to a fraudster’s account and is gone

Payments Fraud

Payments fraud happens when a fraudster pretends to be a client of the business and calls in to change payment details Clever fraudsters who have done their research will know when key employees are out for lunch and the person covering the phones isnt as familiar with clients or procedures. Once payment details are changed, subsequent payments will get directed to the fraudster’s account, instead of the vendor’s

Fraud Prevention
15- CanadianSME-March2024

Cheque Fraud

While cheque use has been declining over recent years, many Canadian businesses continue to use cheques –in fact, Canadian banks still process over 1 billion cheques annually

Cheque fraud can take a few different shapes, but the most common instances involve the theft of cheques, the creation of counterfeit cheques or changing the name or amount on a legitimate cheque Cheque fraud can also be an inside job – without robust processes in place, employees can steal company funds by intercepting, forging or altering a cheque

Overpayment scam

In this scam, a fraudster will first engage a company and request a quote for services Once the quote is sent, they will pay for the service up front

The catch is, the cheque is made out for more than the invoice amount The fraudster then contacts the company and advises of the overpayment and requests that the excess funds be returned The employee, being helpful, accommodates the request and sends the money before the company detects the original cheque is fraudulent

Bank Impersonation

If someone calls claiming to be from your bank, the natural tendency of an employee is to answer their questions, right? This behaviour is something fraudsters count on in a bank impersonation scam This is when someone calls claiming to be from your bank or merchant’s fraud department and asks for a token value or secret SMS code that’s about to be sent In reality, the caller is a fraudster who has access to company credentials or credit cards and is trying to trick an employee into giving up a two-factor authentication code so they can steal funds or make a purchase

Fraud Prevention
ImageCourtesy:canva ImageCourtesy:canva
16- CanadianSME-March2024

How to protect your company

With each of these scams, your employees, vendors or partners could be unwitting targets that help fraudsters trick you out of valuable property Educating your employees about fraud types and tactics is therefore a crucial step to keeping your company safe


what you can do to reduce the vulnerabilities that can lead to fraud:

Proactively educate your employees

Train your staff to detect phishing, smishing and other messaging lures Training should be ongoing to keep employees informed and that they need to always be vigilant For example, Kobalt io offers a user education program that includes cybersecurity awareness training as well as phishing simulations to keep your team alert and up-to-date on the latest scams

Install processes that protect staff

The right processes can help stop fraud before it happens For instance:

Every employee should have their own login

Credentials should be secured so they are not inadvertently shared Confidential information should not be provided to anyone without first validating the request through a phone call or face-toface contact

Employee access should be limited to only those who need it to do their job

For sensitive or high-risk operations, separate responsibilities to two or more people – for example, a financial transaction can have both an initiator and an approver

Support employees with the right technology

Use malware detection software on devices, even home and personal devices if they are used to check work emails or access applications

Implement a practice that work applications or systems can only be accessed using encrypted networks

Ongoing investment into your company ’ s cyber security is essential to protect your business Just as important, however, is regular training, education and process updates to ensure your employees become an extra layer of defense against fraud

This article was originally published on RBC’s My Money Matters blog.

17- CanadianSME-March2024 Fraud Prevention

Recent expansion into Waterloo underscores commitment to growing in Canada and supporting Canadian SMEs

Small businesses are everywhere They power our daily lives and give our home towns unique personality and flair There is no question that our communities, and our nation’s economy, depend on their success

Success doesn’t just happen, though It takes a lot of hard work, ingenuity and resilience to be a small business owner, and sometimes they need extra help That is where a company like Constant Contact can make a big impact

Constant Contact is best known for being a pioneer in email marketing. Today, about half a million small businesses and nonprofits around the world trust

Constant Contact to help them reach customers online, drive more sales and turn one-time visitors into repeat buyers. If you ’ ve ever received an email or a text message from your favorite local business, or attended an event they have hosted, there is a good chance that Constant Contact powered those activities.

The company has grown into a highly-successful business, but it was once an SME itself It was founded on humble beginnings rooted in a simple, but powerful mission to help the small stand tall when competing against their bigger, more established competitors

18- CanadianSME-March2024

Every business starts with a purpose

Back in the early days of the dot-com boom, SMEs were struggling to scale and keep up with larger companies. Constant Contact’s founders recognized that those businesses needed access to the same technologies to help level the playing field and give them an opportunity to keep up and excel so, they created a platform that made it easy for small businesses to market themselves online

Fast forward to 2024, and lots of things have changed Instead of floppy disks and dial-up internet, artificial intelligence is the latest technology to transform the world

But, what hasn’t changed? Running a small business still takes a lot of work, and many are still so busy that they don’t have enough time for marketing which is a sentiment that many SMEs in Canada can relate to

Fortunately, Constant Contact’s mission remains the same as it was in 1995 What began as a simple tool for batch-and-blast emails has now grown into a powerful and flexible SaaS marketing platform that SMEs and nonprofits trust to help them send emails and texts, host events, grow their social media presence, manage their contacts and boost sales.

Making an impact

Small businesses are the heartbeat of Canada’s economy About, 98 percent of total businesses in Canada are SMEs2, and they employ more than 10 million people More importantly, they drive over 50 percent of Canadas GDP3 With tens of thousands of SME customers in Canada, Constant Contact understands how important it is for those businesses to grow

Constant Contact equips SMEs with essential growth tools like email and SMS marketing, social media management, event marketing, SEO, and online ads. The platform leverages cutting-edge technology like AI and marketing automation to help SMEs start marketing quickly, get past challenges like writer’s block, and personalize the messages they send to customers. The platform is incredibly easy to use, and a robust reporting dashboard helps SMEs understand where they can tweak their efforts to see better results.

Imagecourtesy-canva Small Business

Constant Contact’s approach to customer support is also unmatched in the space. Its award-winning support team helps SMEs with everything from troubleshooting to marketing strategy, and free live phone and chat support is available to every customer free of charge

Innovating in Canada

Expanding beyond its roots in Boston, Mass, Constant Contact has bolstered its global footprint with a significant expansion into Canada. It recently opened a new innovation center of excellence at the Communitech Hub in Waterloo, ON, where engineering teams work to accelerate the company ’ s AI and machine learning capabilities Several of Constant Contact’s latest product enhancements, including generative AI tools designed for SMEs, have stemmed from this work in Waterloo

To further entrench itself in the Waterloo-Kitchener community, Constant Contact partnered with the University of Waterloo to provide university students with hands-on product development experience working alongside its engineers

With a rapidly increasing base of Canadian customers, Constant Contact CEO, Frank Vella, says the company is committed to growing in Waterloo, and in Canada, in the coming years.

It’s clear that Constant Contact is more than just a tool or a platform it’s a promise that marketing can be easy, efficient, and effective As it turns out, small businesses don’t need a multimillion-dollar advertising budget or a 10-person team to break through the noise and compete against companies with more resources. They just need a partner who is hyperfocused on giving them the tools and guidance they need to excel, and Constant Contact fits that billing

20- CanadianSME-March2024 Small Business

Digital Transformation in Canadian SMEs:

Insights from Xero's Faye Pang


In a recent dialogue with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Faye Pang, the Canada Country Manager for Xero, shared enlightening perspectives on Xero's essential role within the Canadian SME landscape Emphasizing Xero's mission to simplify, smarten, and improve the lives of small businesses and their advisors globally, Faye Pang detailed the mutual benefits derived from Xero's longstanding partnership with CanadianSME This collaboration, particularly highlighted by Xero's sponsorship of significant small business awards, underscores a shared commitment to fostering the growth and recognition of small businesses across Canada. Through real-world success stories, like those of Goldilocks Goods and Micacchi Architecture, Faye showcased how Xero's platform and its focus on collaboration with accountants have enabled businesses to thrive. Moreover, addressing the potential overwhelm of digital transformation, Faye Pang highlighted how Xero facilitates the selection of valuable digital tools and integrations, simplifying this journey for SMEs and advocating for a partnership-driven approach to strategic decision-making

Faye Pang is the Canada Country Manager for Xero, the global small business platform with more than 3.95 million subscribers worldwide that’s dedicated to making business beautiful With a continued focus on the growth and expansion of local enterprises, Faye is passionate about building and growing resilient technology partnerships that work to benefit the global small business ecosystem Prior to joining Xero, Faye helped launch the Uber Eats app in Toronto in December 2015, scaling the business from 80 restaurants on launch day to 20,000 partners by the end of her tenure

Faye, as CanadianSME Small Business Magazine's exclusive accounting software partner for the past three years, Xero has played a pivotal role in our mission to support small businesses across Canada. Can you share how Xero views this partnership and its significance in supporting the SME landscape in Canada?

Xero’s purpose is to make life better for people in small business, their advisors, and communities around the world, and our mission is to rewire the world of small business to make it seamless, simpler, and smarter The synergies between CanadianSME and Xero’s purpose are clear which is what has made this partnership so impactful

When I think about significant moments, one in particular comes to mind The 2023 Small Business Awards - not only being able to sponsor the Technopreneur category but also getting to spend the evening alongside all the finalists Our team met so many incredible people that evening, connections that have extended into 2024 This year, we are incredibly proud to sponsor the Indigenous Entrepreneur of the Year award It’s so important to acknowledge the important impact SMEs have in their local communities and the awards do just that

21- CanadianSME-March2024

Can you share a success story of a Canadian small business that has thrived by leveraging Xero’s platform?

When I think about Xero’s impact as a platform and tool for small businesses - cash flow visibility is a core item that pops up Two examples of small business customers that have shared how Xero has positively impacted their operations

Amy and Brett from Goldilocks Goods - Their mission is to tackle plastic pollution around the world. Brett took Amy’s work from the first six months of running her business as a sole proprietor, put it into spreadsheets, and gave it to their accountant who put it straight into Xero. They say they’ve never looked back They review monthover-month income statements and use this information to assess where they are spending money and where they might need to reallocate. They also integrate apps with their account so they track every single sale - providing a fulsome report come year-end.

Rob from Micacchi Architecture - After years of experience working at established firms, Rob launched his own venture in 2018. In the early days, Rob operated out of spreadsheets, then he moved to another online accounting platform before moving to Xero. Rob works incredibly closely with his accountant, David. Together they create custom reports that show the cash flow in and out of the business and they also have full visibility on the accounts receivable and invoices owed and can send payment reminders.

Xero places a strong emphasis on collaboration with accountants and bookkeepers. How does this partnership model benefit small businesses, and what tools does Xero provide to facilitate this collaboration?

That’s correct - we believe in the power of collaboration between a small business and their advisor and the evolution of their relationship We surveyed hundreds of accountants and bookkeepers last year and found that while compliance and payroll services remain prominent, there has been a rise in advisory-giving strategic advice based on data. 41% of practices now offer this service for small businesses.


By utilizing digital tools like Xero, small businesses and their advisors can make strategic decisions together I like to think of it like a ship at sea - a small business can have the right equipment, the momentum of the wind, and be able to weather storms but without a map, it’s going to be a little tougher Xero provides that map view - so you can make navigation decisions, even better if you can do it with an accountant or bookkeeper, think of them as the local captain who’s navigated that area their whole life.

Could you give an example of how this collaborative approach has led to significant improvements for a business?

I’d like to bring up Rob from Micacchi again He and his accountant, David, connect every month With the realtime financial insights provided by Xero supported by consultation from David, Rob can make more informed financial decisions with confidence, including hiring staff and transitioning to new office space to support the firms growth

With over 1000 third-party apps that Xero connects with, how do you ensure these integrations add value to small businesses without overwhelming them with too many options?

That’s a great question A couple of years ago we conducted a study around the barriers that stop small businesses from adopting technology and choice paralysis was one of the core reasons why Canadian small businesses don’t

We aim to make the choice process a little easier by focusing on the App Store user experience We have different “categories” and “filters” which allow users to easily navigate to the solution that is suitable to them. For example, you can select CRM for the Hospitality industry, then app suggestions will pop up. We also have collections on the Xero App Store, such as 'Get started with apps ' , featured apps, new and noteworthy, and apps to help with core workflows i e scheduling

Much like other app stores, the influence of community is really important Folks can rate and provide feedback, so users can refer to other small businesses and their feedback about what works best for them


Can you highlight one or two integrations that are particularly beneficial for Canadian SMEs?

Most certainly There are two in particular I’d like to highlight. First, payment solutions are provided through partners such as Stripe (credit cards), GoCardless (account-toaccount transfers), and PayPal or Calgarybased Helcim, DirectPay for Interac Second, digital payroll solutions - Wagepoint, Payment Evolution, Rise, and Payworks

Lastly, what advice would you give to small business owners in Canada who are considering digital transformation, particularly in their accounting practices?

If you ’ re a micro-business - perhaps starting as a side hustle, keep things as digital as you can for instance taking photos of receipts So as you grow you ’ ve already nurtured this behavior - it’ll be second nature

If you ’ re a larger business - harness the insights Xero provides and lean into your relationship with your accountant or bookkeeper. The benefit of a platform like Xero is that it gives you data that your advisor can refer to - giving you both room to have productive and strategic conversations Interviews


How Save Da Sea’s plant-based seafood caught a wave of success

After becoming vegan in 2018, Aki Kaltenbach started looking for seafood alternatives for herself and clients of her family’s Japanese restaurant chain But the British Columbia-based restaurant manager couldn’t find any So Kaltenbach started working on her recipes and serving those products in her family’s restaurants, which helped validate her feeling that there was a broader market for these products

In 2019, she decided to dive into her plant-based seafood alternative business full-time Leading with a sustainable ethos, Save Da Sea aims to mimic the flavour of seafood using simple ingredients with products such as their “smoked salmon”, made from carrots, bull kelp, and Omega-3s from flax oil.

Looking back on her business journey, Kaltenbach says growing it was the hardest thing she’s ever done: “People tell you how hard it is to run your own business, but it's hard to truly understand until you experience it for yourself I'm fighting fires every other day, from supply chain issues, increasing costs, equipment breaking down to retailers delisting your products ” 24- CanadianSME-March2024

Another challenge was securing funding opportunities Early-stage consumer-packaged goods businesses like Save Da Sea rarely make a profit in the first few years That made getting loans from traditional lenders such as banks “virtually impossible” for her business, Kaltenbach says As for other loan programs, she says they often operate at high interest rates which makes it too expensive for most small businesses to apply

That changed in early 2023 when she connected with WeBC, a not-for-profit focused on helping British Columbia-based women entrepreneurs grow their businesses. An advisor at WeBC suggested she look into the WEOC National Loan Program – a federally funded program that gives loans of up to $50,000 to women-owned businesses. Run by the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC) –a non-profit network of organizations supporting women entrepreneurs – the loan program was designed to reduce the barriers that women business owners often face when seeking funding, by eliminating things like minimum credit scores or collateral requirements, but also by providing them with on-going access to expert advice and resources from advisors.

In 2022, WEOC released its Bootstrap or Borrow? report exploring the factors that shape a woman ’ s decision to pursue business funding The research found that while two-thirds of respondents planned to grow their businesses in the next three years, only 50 per cent had applied for funding for the coming three years A lot of that has to do with their uneasy relationship with the idea of debt, the report says Nearly 8 in 10 noted that they “hate owing money ” , even if they say they can “distinguish between good debt versus bad debt”. But Kaltenbach says her experience has challenged that perception: “As an entrepreneur I spend a lot of my time finding money to help grow our business, and debt is an important tool in your toolkit to unlock growth without having to give up ownership of your company through equity ”

In the years to come, Kaltenbach plans to keep building Save Da Sea The business is currently set to expand into the U S Pacific Northwest They are also in the process of developing new products, including a line of plantbased seafood dips that will launch later this year

The funding that Kaltenbach received led her to set up Save Da Sea’s state-of-the-art facility which they now operate in Victoria, British Columbia It also allowed them to invest in equipment to increase their production capacity, which helped them reduce labour costs This has set them to achieve profitability by the end of 2024, Kaltenbach says

For all the challenges that come with being an entrepreneur, Kaltenbach says being able to serve a growing customer base hungry for seafood alternatives makes it well worth it – not to mention the fact they get to do work that supports the environment “By inspiring more people to shift to a plant-based diet, we can help relieve pressure on our oceans, ” she says – and make waves while they do

25- CanadianSME-March2024 Women Entrepreneuship



In celebration of International Women's Day 2024, our journey towards crafting a truly inclusive world takes center stage Acceptance is the first step on this transformative path embracing the power and potential of every individual lays the foundation for genuine inclusion This pursuit is a daily commitment, demanding our openness to embrace new ideas, genders, races, perspectives, and friendships By valuing and celebrating the rich tapestry of cultures, beliefs, and existences, we unlock the door to a future brimming with possibility Including women in every sphere is not just a noble pursuit but a crucial stride towards a united, equitable, and diverse world. #InspireInclusion

Empowerment transcends all limitations as we usher in International Women's Day 2024, a beacon of hope and progress At the heart of this celebration is the recognition of women ' s empowerment as a fusion of strength and compassion, where diversity lays the groundwork for true advancement The integration of women across all professional domains is fundamental to catalyzing change, underscoring the importance of #InspireInclusion As we champion this cause, we recognize the profound impact of honoring the resilience, brilliance, and compassion of women in all areas of life, driving us toward the ideal of gender-neutral societies where success is defined by equal opportunities and pride

This March, our magazine is privileged to amplify the voices of women leaders and dignitaries, each sharing their powerful messages of support and empowerment for women everywhere Through their insights, we are reminded of the collective strength found in our diversity and the endless possibilities that arise from fostering environments rich in creativity and collaboration Let us draw inspiration from these leaders to empower one another, spark meaningful change, and weave a legacy of inclusion As we celebrate the achievements and potential of women, we not only elevate their status but also propel the entire human race toward a future where everyone thrives

Together, let's embrace #InspireInclusion and witness the upliftment it brings to all


Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

The Honourable Filomena Tassi was first elected as Member of Parliament for the riding of Hamilton West Ancaster Dundas in 2015 She has previously served as Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Minister of Labour, and Minister of Seniors

Born and raised in Hamilton, Minister Tassi has been the voice of change for families in the city through a lifetime of commitment to her community

Minister Tassi obtained a Bachelor of Laws from Western University, and also holds a Master of Religious Education from the University of St Michael’s College at the University of Toronto

Minister Tassi practiced law for six years before leaving to raise her family She later became a high school chaplain for the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board As chaplaincy leader, she helped establish the DREAMS (Dominican Republic Education and Medical Support) program, which has enabled thousands of students to live and work with the materially poor in the Dominican Republic

From Dreams to Reality: Encouraging Women in Business

Driven by her profound sense of civic duty, Minister Tassi has been highly involved in her community She is a past board member of both St Joseph’s Hospital and the Catholic Youth Organization and has volunteered her time with other local initiatives and organizations Minister Tassi served as a Catholic school board trustee, and was the recipient of the 2010 Brian J. Halferty Award, presented by the Catholic School Chaplains of Ontario for exemplary service

Minister Tassi, her husband, and two children live in the Hamilton West Ancaster Dundas riding

Southern Ontario is a thriving hub of innovation, and the impact of women-led enterprises cannot be overstated Women entrepreneurs create economic growth across our province with a unique perspective and approach to business Women-owned small businesses contribute to the diversity and inclusivity of our local economy, fostering a rich blend of ideas and services that benefit us all

I have had the privilege of witnessing firsthand the transformative power of women entrepreneurs across southern Ontario Their businesses create jobs, drive economic growth, and serve as role models for the next generation The women-led stores, restaurants, boutiques, and shops that fill so many of our communities are creating local economic and employment opportunities When we support women-led enterprises, we invest in the future success of our communities

As we navigate the challenges of today's economic landscape, we must continue to champion and uplift women in business The Government of Canada, led by Justin Trudeau, is committed to implementing policies that grow our economy, promote equality, provide access to resources like capital and networking opportunities, and remove barriers for women entrepreneurs.

Together, we can foster an environment where every woman with a dream can turn a possibility into a reality


Filomena Tassi

Member of Parliament for Hamilton West Ancaster Dundas

Minister Responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

2024 Celebrating

Mary is Chief People Officer at Constant Contact, a digital marketing and automation platform that has helped millions of small businesses and nonprofits globally. She leverages her extensive human resource management experience to build a forward-looking, scalable and sustainable platform for growth. This includes integrating new systems, enhancing existing professional development programs and amplifying the company’s commitment to an inclusive and engaged workforce Prior to joining Constant Contact, Mary served as Chief Human Resources Officer for LightBox, a leading provider of due diligence, risk management, location intelligence and workflow solutions

The Impact of Inclusion: A Professional Transformation

The most important lesson I learned in my professional life is that I belong in the room. Early in my career, I led a training program at a manufacturing company that was composed entirely of men in late stages of their careers Enthusiasm was low, and I could tell they were skeptical that I could offer anything valuable in the training

I was mortified, but I faced this challenge directly and explained that while I didn’t know their roles, I brought a wealth of knowledge in other areas that would help them become better leaders Instantly, the atmosphere changed, they trusted me, and I realized that I belonged in the room

I still think back to that experience because it fueled my passion for a diverse and inclusive workplace A room filled with people of different genders, ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, or other unique qualities will always yield deeper thought and better results This realization helped propel my career, and I know many other women struggle with their own sense of belonging

My advice to every woman is to embrace your uniqueness and not question whether you belong. Your impact, words, and insight will make a difference. Above all, be part of the evolution and help others learn about the power and impact of experiences, backgrounds, and genders. You belong in the room!"


2024 Celebrating
MaryRusterholz Chief People Officer at Constant Contact

Christina is VP of Business Deposits & Treasury Services at RBC with overall responsibility for growing market share of the Business deposit portfolio as well as developing the strategic vision delivering market leading digital solutions in cash management, deposits, payments, and trade Christina joined RBC in 2006 as part of RBC’s Graduate Leadership Program and completed four six-month rotations across a number of RBC’s platforms. Since then, Christina has held progressively senior roles in Sales, Enterprise Strategy, Business Financial Services Strategy and Regional Banking Prior to her time at the bank she spent 4 years with IBM Canada and 1 year with Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation in various financial roles Christina holds an Honours Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queen’s University and an MBA from McGill University She is also a Chartered Professional Accountant

Boosting Profitability Through Gender Diversity

To date, women-owned businesses have created over 1 5 million jobs and contributed approximately $150 billion to the Canadian economy in recent years, enriching the Canadian business landscape by driving innovations, creating job opportunities, and inspiring the next generation of business leaders Their vision, leadership, and entrepreneurial spirit continue to have a significant impact on our nation’s ability to grow, prosper, and compete on the global stage, all while creating a more diverse and inclusive business community where new ideas and talent can flourish

While there’s certainly been a lot of progress in the last decade to promote greater gender equity in business, its clear that there’s still more to be done to accelerate the representation, participation, and inclusion of women in our economy and society Studies show that women continue to be underrepresented, holding only 35% of leadership positions in Canada while comprising 46% of the workforce

1 2 3

Aside from the matter of principle, there are clear cases around the socio-economic value and innovation that are driven by the inclusion of women entrepreneurs, working professionals, and leaders One McKinsey study suggests that businesses with greater gender diversity at the senior leadership level are 25% more likely to experience greater profitability, improved decision-making, and organizational performance

The challenges to closing this gap are multi-faceted – from the need for greater education around our individual biases and creating more career mentorship and sponsorship opportunities to support the advancement of women, to providing equitable access to funding, employment, education, and entrepreneurial resources to enable the full and equal participation of women in our society.

https://wwwinternationalgcca/trade-commerce/gender equality-egalite genres/trade gendercommerce genreaspx?lang=eng



2024 Celebrating
1 2 3

There’s no single, catch-all solution to this That’s why, at RBC, we take a holistic and continuous approach to our support for women entrepreneurs in their growth journey We offer year-round advice events, mentorship opportunities, financing solutions, and access to business resources to help empower women to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations while strengthening their foundational business knowledge

Sponsorships are another way we demonstrate our goal of supporting and celebrating women entrepreneurs in the economy. For example, our ongoing commitment to the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards program in partnership with Women of Influence is an important way for us to celebrate the achievements of women who are exceptional leaders and innovators in our communities

In doing so, we want to put a spotlight on their stories, experiences, and perspectives to inspire and foster the next generation of women entrepreneurs and innovators We’re proud to say that since the inception of the award program, more than 70,000 Canadian women have been nominated and 200+ entrepreneurs have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to the Canadian business community

For all the journeys we’ve supported and the stories we’ve shared to date, there are many more aspiring and inspiring women entrepreneurs waiting in the wings. At RBC, we are in relentless pursuit of supporting the advancement and ambitions of even more women in the months and years to come because, ultimately, creating a more inclusive economy where everyone is seen, heard, supported and celebrated is critical in unlocking the full innovation potential and economic prosperity of our society

StephanieDexter President, UPS Canada

Stephanie began her career in 1989 as a package handler in the Southeast California District She held various positions in Industrial Engineering, Human Resources, and operation assignments of increasing responsibility, leading to her promotion to Laguna Package Division Manager in 2007.

After completing several rotations in hub, air, and package operations in the South California and Central California districts, she was promoted to package operations manager for the South California District in 2015

In 2016, Stephanie accepted the position of UK, Ireland, and Nordics District Package Operations Manager She returned to the U.S. in 2018 and after a short time in the Northeast District was promoted to president, Northern Plains District in May 2018 She accepted her current position in April 2021, marking her as the first female president of UPS in Canada

Unstoppable Women: UPS's Support for Female Entrepreneurs

Stephanie holds a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in economics from San Diego State University and a MBA with a concentration in finance from Louisiana State University, Shreveport. She has completed Executive Development at Emory University as well as International Executive Development at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France

International Women's Day is more than just a date to me - it serves as a tribute to all the pioneering women who have forged their paths and opened doors for others Throughout my 35-year career at UPS, a typically male-dominated industry, I've seen women achieve remarkable milestones and secure positions at the top of our organization As UPS Canada's first female President, I can attest to this from personal experience Much like these businesswomen, female entrepreneurs with their determination, tenacity, resilience, and innovative spirit have emerged as a driving force in the Canadian economy

I’m proud to say that at UPS, we put people first We love celebrating our diverse team and finding unique ways to lift each other We believe that by providing equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of gender, age, race, or background we can create a more inclusive and successful workplace Our Women’s Leadership Development group is just one of the many ways we are creating a more dynamic workplace Through this group, we are empowering women, and promoting their advancement within the company.

We share that same commitment when supporting women- and diverse-owned businesses Many talented entrepreneurs don’t have access to the knowledge, capital, and networks they need to succeed For us, it’s not enough to say we support you We saw a need to help bridge the gender gap in export participation to help women-owned businesses grow So, we ’ ve partnered with Startup Canada to launch the Women Exporters Program This program provides education and resources to help women entrepreneurs expand into new markets Whether you ’ re starting or growing your business, were here to help make your business unstoppable

Here’s my advice, be relentless and go after what you want, and listen when someone tells you, you are ready for the next step Because when women thrive, we all benefit #InsprieInclusion

2024 Celebrating

Young Lee is a seasoned marketer with over 19 years of extensive marketing experience in the technology industry. Due to her personal entrepreneurial endeavours and growing up with a family that ran a small business for many years, Young has a passionate connection when seeing small business owners create and thrive doing what they love. Currently at GoDaddy, she leads the Canadian business as Market Lead and also drives business growth, helping small businesses grow using GoDaddy products and tools in Canada, UK and Australia

GoDaddy Airo: Streamlining Success for Women in Business

I am immensely proud to celebrate International Women's Day This day is not just a mere observance; it's a reminder of the pivotal role women play in entrepreneurship and the workforce At GoDaddy, we understand the significance of female entrepreneurs and their remarkable ability to juggle both career aspirations and family commitments.

In today's fast-paced world, time is of the essence. That's why GoDaddy recently introduced GoDaddy Airo, an innovative AIpowered solution tailored to empower small businesses. Airo streamlines the process of establishing a digital presence, making it easier than ever to enable entrepreneurs to focus more on nurturing their ventures, which in turn can save valuable time to contribute to a better work/life balance.

Female small business owners inspire us with their resilience, creativity, and determination They are trailblazers, breaking barriers and driving positive change in their communities and beyond As we commemorate International Women's Day, let's reaffirm our commitment to fostering an inclusive environment where women thrive, both in business and in life

2024 Celebrating Yo


Canada Country Manager, Xero

Faye Pang is the Canada Country Manager for Xero, the global small business platform with more than 395 million subscribers worldwide that’s dedicated to making business beautiful With a continued focus on the growth and expansion of local enterprise, Faye is passionate about building and growing resilient technology partnerships that work to benefit the global small business ecosystem Prior to joining Xero, Faye helped launch the Uber Eats app in Toronto in December 2015, scaling the business from 80 restaurants on launch day to 20,000 partners by the end of her tenure

The Power of Curiosity in Teamwork and Business Success

March 8 has become a renowned day in the calendar year with awareness of and involvement in International Women’s Day growing every year I see the day serving as an opportunity to take stock of everything we have achieved as a community It’s a time to reflect, acknowledge, and celebrate the wins we ’ ve had

In fact, we ’ ve seen green shoots upon green shoots emerge at pace in recent times, possibly because of the commitment and tenacity of all women before us. As a sports enthusiast, I can’t help but think about the FIFA Women’s World Cup which was held in Australia and New Zealand last year - the tournament broke broadcast records internationally Beyond the statistics, it was the stories of the players and the showcase of connection and trust that cast attention on what it means to be an elite teammate

Thinking more about teamwork, I wanted to share a few core themes that I believe are synonymous with experiences in a business setting:

Nurture inclusion - we ’ re better together Just like a team, trusting folks on your team is paramount and necessary for success

Embrace the opportunity to challenge - certain rules or systems may be in place but there should always be room to question the way things work in the spirit of continuous improvement

Be curious, always - being open to learning and embracing varied views will help determine the appropriate path ahead

Whether you ’ re an owner/operator or a member of a team in an organization - the lessons we can learn from one another are limitless - let’s continue paving the way forward together.

2024 Celebrating

An executive communications leader, with 20+ years of international experience in the Advertising, Media, and Communications industries Passionate and driven Shannon champions CMDC’s business objectives with sound strategy, inspired creativity, and humanityCMDC actively operates to ensure a fair & progressive marketplace on behalf of their clients, agencies, and media partners CMDC members account for 92% of the total media ad spend transacted annually in Canada In 2020, that was over $10 billion invested in the Canadian economy, Canadian jobs, and communications infrastructure

Armed with a relentless entrepreneurial spirit, Shannon created and operated a bespoke communications business for five years – following senior international positions in media, communications, and advertising in London, Sydney, and Toronto

Celebrating Women: The Power of Authentic Connection

Over nearly two decades, she has contributed to the success of global brands and executives including BBC, Microsoft, Unilever, Diageo – plus media brands MindShare UK, MediaCom, AMVBBDO, BBH London, JWT, Cossette, and PHD Canada

These partnerships have resulted in an extensive portfolio, from new business wins to award-winning creative communications. As well, Shannon has established an impressive network of strong, global relationships with the broader creative and business communities

Shannon is a mentor to the next generation in media to help youth get inspired, network, and advance thinking within a culture of connectivity and creativity. She also resides on the Canadian Cannes Lions Board of Creativity in partnership with The Globe and Mail

Shannon is a proud mother, avid skier, tennis player, and arts advocate and has been known to hike a few mountains, from Patagonia to Kilimanjaro.

Vulnerability in leadership is key to building trust and connection As a female media leader and working mother, sharing our imperfections and challenges humanizes us and inspires others to do the same. Together, we are more powerful, authentic, and impactful. On Women's Day, let's remember the power of coming together to support and lift one another We rise by lifting others

#Empowerher is a thriving community of Canadian women in the media and tech industry who come together to foster growth, share knowledge, and champion each other's success When women support other women, amazing things happen Let's commit to lifting each other and breaking down barriers in the industry

2024 Celebrating

Tabatha is Anishinaabe, a proud member of Nipissing First Nation Awarded CEO of the Year for 2022 by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, Tabatha as CCAB’s president and CEO is committed to help rebuild and strengthen the path towards reconciliation and a prosperous Indigenous economy to benefit all Canadians As an electrical engineer, Tabatha is committed to supporting Indigenous inclusion and diversity in Canada’s energy sector.

Serving the Indigenous community through CCAB’s commitment to support the Indigenous economy, Tabatha is an appointee to many boards, including the Dexterra Group, Wigwamen Inc., Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and Catalyst CEO advisory board in Canada to name a few

Tabatha is dedicated to diversity and removing systematic barriers to improve opportunities for Indigenous business and women across all industry sectors.

Advancing Female Voices in Corporate Boards

ack, I suppose as a little girl and a teen I have always dvocate In my high school in a small town in Ontario, I chose clubs such as the World Wildlife Fund and Amnesty International

Throughout my career, I have found myself “the only” at the table Many times I have expressed frustration about that, but now I am looking at it as a responsibility, a gift, and an opportunity

Last year, I was named one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women by WXN, and while I have never sought “ power ” , and am uncomfortable with attention for the sake of it, I am proud that I have taken up space when provided, particularly when women have typically been excluded with great intentionality

We all see the situation improving, but I would challenge it is not at the rate that it would appear

Leading a national organization provides another opportunity –responsibility – for me to lead. I am proud to say that four of CCAB’s seven executive team members are Indigenous women, including a female CEO and COO, and that over 50% of our Board is female.

We are also strategic in ensuring women have a strong voice throughout every event we host This May, CCAB is hosting our 40th anniversary with a national business forum, where we will feature a mainstage panel on female representation on corporate boards

It is not enough to recruit women to individual positions, we need to change the fabric of organizations, of tables and conversations and weave opportunities for women throughout

2024 Celebrating

CEO, The Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce (CanWCC)

Nancy Wilson is the founder and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce (CanWCC), the only chamber of commerce in Canada that advocates for 12 million businesses owned and led by women and non-binary individuals As a Chartered Professional Accountant with over a decade of experience, Nancy created CanWCC to address the lack of resources and barriers faced by underrepresented entrepreneurs She has raised close to $5M in grant funding and spearheaded a partner network of 20,000 organizations. Nancy is a 2023 Globe and Mail Changemaker and regularly advises government committees on economic equity CanWCC produced a widely cited report on the impacts of COVID-19 on underrepresented entrepreneurs, and most recently launched the Economic Equity Alliance to address systemic inequalities Nancy is committed to creating a healthier and more inclusive Canadian economy through her advocacy work

Inclusive Entrepreneurship and Advocacy at CanWCC

The Canadian Women's Chamber of Commerce (CanWCC) is deeply committed to inspiring inclusion and providing a powerful voice for women-identified and nonbinary business owners, founders, and entrepreneurs across Canada

Before 2018, a crucial advocacy platform was absent for this demographic within Canada's chambers of commerce, leaving them without a dedicated voice at the policy level

Recognizing this gap, CanWCC emerged as a driving force for change, establishing a vibrant community dedicated to amplifying the voices of underrepresented groups nationwide Our commitment and focus is on creating opportunities for collective action and impact.

CanWCC stands as a beacon of change, working to create equal opportunities and equitable conditions for womenidentified and non-binary entrepreneurs to thrive in business.

2024 Celebrating

Michelle is Vice President of Public Affairs at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce where she has led an exceptional expansion of the organization’s impact and reach throughout the province She was also involved in developing and implementing strategic and risk management plans that led to material growth in organizational revenues over her tenure.

Over her career, Michelle has worked in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors, helping to shape communications and public affairs strategies within key roles at organizations such as Rothmans, Benson and Hedges Inc., Manulife, and the federal government

Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Political Science and French from Western University and an Executive MBA from Ivey Business School.

Cultivating Inclusion: Leadership Lessons from Mom

Effective and inclusive leaders should be catalysts for bringing out the best in their employees Unfortunately, many lose sight of this This International Women’s Day, I reflect on three key lessons from my mom – a farmer – whose wisdom always guides me:

Foster growth through listening: Mom always compared nurturing people to caring for saplings; you can’t force growth but must create the right conditions for it Instead of telling employees how to do their jobs, ask them how you can do help them do their jobs better This approach, simple yet profound, can unlock tremendous potential

Encourage low-risk spaces for innovation: Leaders can enhance their teams and organizations by creating safe spaces for risktaking and innovation, emphasizing resilience and grit “A little dirt aint gonna kill ya, ” my mom would say, often followed by “Dust your knees off and keep on walking” Stand behind your employees when they take responsible risks, and remind them that failure is no flaw if you learn from it

Practice humility: Treating everyone with equality and respect was second nature to my mother Leaders who exhibit humility, respect, and a willingness to serve their employees while advancing the organization can achieve remarkable outcomes

My mother passed away earlier this year. She lived a life of inclusion, even if she never used that word because it was so innate to her. In doing so, she enabled success for me and many others without even realizing it. Her legacy is a powerful reminder that true leadership isn’t about pointing the way, or even about opening doors for others; it’s about helping people find their own paths so that they can walk through those doorways themselves.

2024 Celebrating

Tiffany Callender is a dedicated advocate for the advancement and prosperity of the Black community in Canada She cofounded the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE) in 2021, a non-profit organization primarily focused on accelerating the creation of generational wealth for individuals of African descent in Canada

One of Ms Callender’s remarkable initiatives is the co-development and administration of the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, a significant collaboration with the government of Canada This fund provides financial support and resources to Black entrepreneurs, fostering economic growth and empowerment within the community.

Tiffany Callender's commitment to community development and social entrepreneurship spans decades She has actively crafted and implemented programs that uplift and support Canada's Black community.

What inspiring inclusion means to me

Her dedication to driving positive change has not gone unnoticed. In 2022, she was recognized for her accomplishments by receiving the Ones to Watch award at the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards Additionally, her influence and impact have been acknowledged by Afroglobal television, where she secured a spot among the 100 most influential Black Canadians In 2020, she was honoured by MIPAD (Most Influential People of African Descent) as one of the 100 most influential individuals of African descent under 40.

Tiffany's work exemplifies her passion for driving change, creating opportunities, and contributing to the prosperity of the Black community in Canada through initiatives that promote economic growth and empowerment.

"Inspiring Inclusion resonates deeply with me, as fostering an understanding and appreciation for women ' s inclusion is at the core of building a more equitable and empowered world In my journey as a dedicated advocate for the advancement of the Black community in Canada, I have witnessed the power of inclusion When we create environments that value and uplift the unique contributions of every woman, we pave the way for a society where everyone can thrive

As co-founder and CEO of the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE), my mission has been to accelerate the creation of generational wealth for individuals of African descent in Canada The Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, in collaboration with the government of Canada and BDC, is just one example of how targeted initiatives can empower underrepresented communities.

This International Women's Day, let's promote our commitment to inclusivity and empowerment to continue breaking down barriers and creating opportunities that enable all women to reach their full potential By inspiring inclusion, we celebrate diversity and build a stronger, more resilient Canada "

2024 Celebrating

Associates, Cara Hirsch is a real estate aficionado with over a decade of experience helping some of the GTA’s most notable builders successfully bring their projects to market Leveraging expertise honed through growing up in a real estate family, Cara built on her formative years by establishing a company defined by passion, collaboration, and a hands-on approach Her instinctual industry knowledge enables her to launch each project successfully, and knowing that no two projects are alike, she employs tailored strategic planning from the outset. Cara is credited with launching over 30 projects in the Toronto pre-construction market and has sold over $44 billion Her genuine dedication to her craft, strong relationships with the broker community, and familial commitment to her clients have solidified her success to date and remain the cornerstones of her brand as Hirsch + Associates continues to grow

The Subtle Strength of Inclusion in Business

Inspiring inclusion means embracing diversity and inclusion across all spheres of work, society, and culture As a woman in a traditionally maledominated field, I've found that the most significant challenges often lie not in the overt exclusions, but in the subtler, seemingly inconsequential practices entrenched in the industry To overcome these, it takes courage, persistence, and a steadfast commitment to your passions while remaining adaptable in your pursuit of long-term goals

Creating a culture of belonging within my organization is central to my approach Through open communication, empathy, and respect, I ensure that all team members feel valued and heard, fostering an environment where diverse perspectives thrive and innovation flourishes Ultimately, inspiring inclusivity as a female entrepreneur is about recognizing the value of diversity, fostering belonging, and actively working to remove barriers to participation. Through leadership, advocacy, and collaboration, I endeavor to create a business environment where everyone feels welcome, valued, and empowered to contribute to success Providing opportunities for education and dialogue about the importance of inclusivity helps to raise awareness and empower others to advocate for equality By demonstrating the benefits of diversity and inclusion in action, we can inspire others to embrace inclusivity in their own lives and work towards creating a more equitable and welcoming society

2024 Celebrating

Higher Education Leader, SMART OWL

Andrea Sesum, a prominent Canadian figure, is actively closing the global skills gap through her contributions to the field of education She has been engaged in various diversity and inclusion initiatives, not only within Canada but also on an international level

Some of her recent achievements include:

2021 Canadian Business Woman of the Year Award, Canadian SME National Business Awards

Panelist at the Forbes School of Business & Technology "Thought Leader Summit"

Recognized as one of the Top 25 Female EdTech Founders by SuperCharger Ventures

Awarded the Access Equity and Human Right Award from the City of Toronto

Led the Women In Tech

Canadian/European 2021 Southeastern Europe Summit under the patronage of Croatian's first female president, Her Excellency Kolinda Grabar

Let’s Harness the Power of our Personal Perspectives!

Established the global social impact school, HER Business School, an accredited college by the Ministry of College & Universities

Nominated for the Toronto Star Readers' Choice Award 2023 To date, over 500 women have benefited from free basic coding courses and workshops

Scholarship recipient of the Innovation Governance Program (iGP) at the Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI)!

Each of us brings a distinct set of experiences, values, and insights to the table It's this diversity that enriches our collective journey and enables us to inspire inclusion in profound ways Our personal story, shaped by our triumphs, challenges, and aspirations, has the potential to resonate deeply with others, serving as a source of strength and solidarity

Embracing our differences and celebrating our individuality is key to building a more inclusive society where every woman feels valued and heard Our perspective, whether shaped by our cultural background, professional expertise, or personal journey, offers a unique lens through which to understand and address the barriers to inclusion that women face

By sharing our story, speaking up for those whose voices are often marginalized, and advocating for equitable opportunities, we become a beacon of inspiration and empowerment for women everywhere Our authenticity and courage paved the way for others to embrace their uniqueness and stand tall in their truth

Together, let's harness the power of our perspectives to create a world where all women are seen, heard, and valued. Happy International Women's Day!

2024 Celebrating

Shahrzad Rafati is the Founder, Chairperson and CEO of BBTV, the leading creator monetization company with a mission to help creators become more successful Shahrzad has driven BBTV to become one of the pioneers in defining and advancing the media-tech space, empowering a new generation of storytellers, and transforming entertainment and the ways that content is being produced and consumed BBTV is a leading global powerhouse, the second largest video property following only Google, generating tens of billions of monthly impressions.

In addition to building an incredibly successful company that has experienced phenomenal growth, Shahrzad has built a quadruple bottom line business that measures success not only on financial performance but also on employee, culture, social, community, and environmental KPIs BBTV has a 0% pay gap, 50% BIPOC, and female representation at the board level, ~40% of its employees identify as female, and ~45% of its managers are female-identifying managers.

Beyond Celebration: Acting on Inclusion for Women Everywhere

Shahrzad actively pursues ways to encourage social change and is a champion for equality in all forms She is passionate about job creation, climate action, education, and advancing opportunities for women and girls. In September 2018, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed her to represent Canada on the G20 Business Women Leader’s task force, a global initiative to drive actionable, measurable, and results-driven solutions to impact women’s economic empowerment In 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed Shahrzad to further this work as CoChair of G20 EMPOWER, which is a private-sector alliance intended to support the greater recruitment and advancement of women in leadership in the private sector in each of the G20 countries.

As we gather to commemorate International Women's Day, I am reminded of the profound significance behind this year ' s theme, "Inspire Inclusion” which serves not just as a beacon for celebration but as a compelling call to action to foster an inclusive world where every woman ' s contribution is acknowledged and celebrated

Inclusion goes beyond mere principle it's an actionable commitment It challenges us to not just look past our differences, but to embrace them and draw strength from the collective diversity, perspectives, and experiences that each of us brings to the table Today, I urge every one of us to recognize the crucial role of inclusivity in empowering women from all walks of life to voice their ideas, chase their dreams, and realize their highest ambitions

Inclusion is the cornerstone of innovation and progress. By ensuring women have a seat at every table, from the boardroom to grassroots movements, we not only unlock a wellspring of potential but also foster a culture of respect, understanding, and mutual appreciation across all genders

So today, let's recommit ourselves to champion gender equality and inspire those around us to do the same Together, we can pave the way for a world that not only celebrates women ' s achievements but also ensures their inclusion is woven into the fabric of our daily lives

2024 Celebrating

Take a moment to reflect on YOUR journey

Andria is a member of the Anti-Racism Advisory Committee with the Peel Regional Police & a popular Judge for awards including the Canadian SME Awards & Canadian Mortgage Awards She also leads the SheaMoisture DreamFund Grant program awarding $50,000 to Black female entrepreneurs in Canada yearly

Founder of The Diversity Agency Speaker, Facilitator & Consultant, The Diversity Agency

Andria Barrett is the Founder of The Diversity Agency and is an award-winning Entrepreneur The Diversity Agency provides speaking, training and consulting services to business owners & non-profit organizations Andria is also a Co-Founder of The Banker Ladies Council where her focus is on helping women-led entrepreneurs through mutual aid

She serves as a board member to the Culinary Tourism Alliance, Help A Girl Out (HAGO) and has been appointed as a member of Humber College’s Program Advisory Committee (PAC). She is also an Activator with SheEO/Coralus

Every year, there’s more and more to celebrate when it comes to the progress women have made in business and entrepreneurship Increasing numbers of women are embracing the freedom and challenges that come with creating their own path and starting their own companies

As we celebrate our achievements, milestones, and success, It’s important to appreciate the journey Ladies, take a moment to reflect on YOUR journey, and where you ’ ve come from, and be excited for what lies ahead.

My advice to you Don’t compare yourself to anyone Your journey is your journey

See yourself as an Entrepreneur, not a Woman Entrepreneur

Be open to change, collaboration, and going against the grain Do things YOUR way

Continue to learn, grow, network, and evolve

Consider participating in a Trade Mission Look for a mentor and be a mentor to another business owner

Embrace your mistakes Learn from failures Give yourself grace

Dream big Be Bold Take chances Believe in yourself and don’t forget to pay it forward There’s an entrepreneur in the same place you were last month or last year who may need your help, support, or word of advice

2024 Celebrating

Katya Laviolette is the chief people officer at 1Password, where she grew the fully remote workforce to over 1,000 employees in 2023 across five countries and hit a record 93% offer-to-acceptance rate

Katya believes that HR programs must be strategically aligned with business priorities and does so with a global mindset She’s passionate about creating a positive work culture and has been recognized for her ability to influence and drive business innovation through both talent and organizational development.

Before joining 1Password, Katya held executive positions at SSENSE, TC Transcontinental, CBC/Radio-Canada, Rio Tinto, Bombardier Aerospace, and Canadian National Railway She’s also a Board Director with Sanimax and Solotech, two global organizations.

Encouraging Women to Shape Their Futures

Katya is also a member of the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés (ORHRI), as well as a certified coach with Integral Coaching Canada Katya is actively involved in her community, having served many years on the Board of Pour 3 Points (P3P), as well as mentoring women leaders within the Governance au Féminin organization and Monday Girl.

International Women’s Day was first established in the early 1900s to celebrate women ’ s social, economic, cultural, and political achievements, increase awareness of the steps being taken to achieve gender equality and recognize the work that still needs to be done While our society has evolved significantly since then, there’s still so much more to be done To continue uplifting the women in both our personal and professional lives, here are three concrete actions that resonate deeply with me:

Provide mentorship and pay it forward I regularly encourage the women on my team and in my life to prioritize this Many of my successes can be attributed to the support of my network –both women and men – who’ve helped me along the way, including those who’ve taken chances on me and pushed me to do more.

If you don’t see a clear path leading to where you want to go, lean in and create one for yourself. Having the right mindset is essential here, especially when faced with difficulty or resistance Instead of seeing this as something tedious or daunting, consider this as a growth opportunity to step into the unknown This opportunity will not only bring you closer to your end goal, but it will forge a path for women to follow

Practice allyship in all forms Exercise humility, admit when you are wrong, and listen actively These are behaviors that people in positions of power can practice to operate as allies with marginalized communities

2024 Celebrating

Makini Smith has a passion for helping others toward personal and professional growth after overcoming her own adversities Leveraging her expertise and personal experiences, she facilitates individuals to overcome self-limiting beliefs and detrimental behaviors Her mission is to help individuals identify and overcome their limiting beliefs and behaviors to realize their full potential Makini founded Legacy Leavers Media, assisting women entrepreneurs selfpublish with the same tools and resources as traditional publishers without the need for their validation or approval.

She’s a 5 time-published author and hosts the 5-star rated “HEAL Her” podcast one of the top 15% most popular podcasts globally She’s been seen on media platforms, including Chatelaine, iHeart Radio, CBC, CTV, Bell Media, Vice News, and multiple Times Square billboards

Building a World of Belonging and Significance

Inclusion goes beyond a trend; it involves breaking barriers and empowering voices Promoting women ’ s inclusion creates a more cohesive, empowered world with a sense of belonging and significance

Collectively, let’s shape a more inclusive world for women by:


Personal Initiative: Recognizing, appreciating, and actively promoting the inclusion of women and girls on an individual level is crucial Let’s embrace their diversity, whether related to race, age, ability, faith, body image, or identity We can create a ripple effect by spreading knowledge, support, and encouragement


Organizational Commitment: Organizations and groups worldwide play a pivotal role They can “Inspire inclusion” by:

Economic Empowerment: Ensuring women’s economic participation

Talent Development: Recruiting, retaining, and developing female talent

Leadership: Supporting women and girls in leadership roles.

STEM and Business: Encouraging women’s presence in STEM fields and decision-making

Health and Education: Providing access to quality education, health information, and sustainable agriculture

Sports and Arts: Elevating women’s participation and achievements


Global Advocacy: IWD extends beyond borders, organizations, and affiliations It belongs to all who champion women ’ s equality As Gloria Steinem aptly said, “The story of women ’ s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights ”

As a woman entrepreneur, mother, and grandmother, I am passionate about helping identify limiting beliefs/behaviors and assisting in overcoming those obstacles Let’s invest in women financially, emotionally, intellectually, and with complete dedication It accelerates progress, creating a world where every woman ’ s potential is realized

2024 Celebrating

Sarah Stockdale is the Founder of Growclass, an award-winning Growth Marketing Certification and community of Founders and Marketers Before founding Growclass Sarah helped lead growth teams for Tilt (acq by Airbnb) and Wave (acq by H&R Block Sarah is also the Host of The Growth Effect, a Globe and Mail podcast, and the Author of the popular millennial newsletter We Need To Talk About This

From Gap to Growth: Elevating Women’s Economic Power

he International Women’s Day theme of fostering inclusion is bout working together to solve the inequalities when it comes o the gender pay gap For starters, we need to know what they re 13 percent of men earn over 100k, but that number drops to percent when we look at women ’ s salaries. Men entrepreneurs are 3.5x more likely to make a million dollars in their business than women

That *sucks*

We need to support the women and underrepresented folks’ ambitions Because we all know, when we all have access to economic power, our communities are better for it We have to invest in their businesses, provide support networks, and fully resource underrepresented entrepreneurs And we need to close that six-figure gap because there is no reason in 2024 that women shouldnt be paid what they’re worth

That’s why I started Growclass From inception, we have been focused on inclusion and it’s worked We are one of the most diverse professional alumni communities in Canada Our Alumni community consists of over 75% women and 50% who identify as belonging to underrepresented groups To make sure our course is also accessible to people experiencing financial hardship we offer 100k in scholarships every year Our graduates earn on average $26,700 more within three months of completing Growclass and 93% of students who are looking for a new job secure one within three months of graduation. It’s not enough, but it’s a start and well work hard to provide the right support to help women and underrepresented people get their welldeserved bag

2024 Celebrating

Karen Greve Young is the CEO of Futurpreneur, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs ages 18-39 with loan financing, mentorship, and business resources.

Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs and Building an Inclusive Future

ternational Women's Day isn't just a celebration, it's a call to action a recent "Women Funding Women" event, I saw different enerations of founders, investors, and mentors coming together to obilize resources for women-led businesses This spirit of ollective empowerment will define the next wave of ntrepreneurship

m inspired by so many entrepreneurs who are a testament to this hange, including Joanna Griffiths of Knix, who was the Women unding Women keynote, and Noura Sakkijha of Mejuri These credible Futurpreneur-supported entrepreneurs have built massive onsumer brands that shatter the myth that "women-focused" eans niche I love Noura's mission to empower women to buy ewelry for your damn self”, and Joanna’s mission “to empower veryone to live unapologetically free ” They’ve each built global ands with hundreds of employees I also appreciate Joanna’s hope that Knix’s record of the largest capital raise by a Canadian woman founder is short-lived: women founders empowering women founders

As we continue to strive for gender equity, we must ensure we ' re also pushing for inclusion. That means elevating the voices and experiences of Black and Indigenous women and women of color and supporting their successes.

At Futurpreneur, we ’ ve seen how diverse teams spur stronger, more equitable business outcomes

Under Mona-Lisa Prosper and Holly Atjecoutay's leadership, over half of the businesses in our Black Entrepreneur Startup Program and Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program are led by women founders. These figures aren't coincidences, they reflect our teams. The incredible representation of women leaders at Futurpreneur, including our majority women board and senior leadership, reflects the shift towards equal representation we’re seeing in more and more business landscapes

By joining forces to support and invest in women-led businesses, and by insisting on inclusion, we can build an ecosystem where all women can access the resources and opportunities they need to succeed

2024 Celebrating

Fatima Zaidi is the CEO and Founder of Quill & CoHost. Quill is an award-winning content marketing agency, specializing in branded podcast content for leading global brands including Interac, PWC, Microsoft and Expedia CoHost, a podcast growth and analytics tool used by customers like Heart & Stroke, TD, and Interac

Decision-Making Excellence through Diversity and Inclusion

My advice on fostering inclusion, in line with this year ’ s International Women’s Day theme, is centered on the importance of creating an inclusive workspace for women Establishing such an environment is essential for the success of your business Companies that embrace diversity not only capture a larger market share but also gain a competitive edge when accessing new markets A diverse sales force is better equipped to understand and respond to the needs and preferences of buyers People want to see themselves represented by the companies they buy from Ultimately, diverse and inclusive views contribute to better decision-making and drive a high-performance culture

At Quill, we take pride in our commitment to diversity, with 90% of our executive team and over 85% of our overall team being women-identifying I truly credit our success to the strength of our diverse team However, despite women constituting 60% of college graduates, only 3% hold leadership positions worldwide This glaring disparity underscores the need for continued efforts to address this imbalance – we have a long way to go!

An area that I’d like to see drastically improve for women in the innovation space is fundraising. While navigating the fundraising process is challenging for everyone, women face a constant uphill battle. In 2020, billions of dollars of global venture capital were invested in tech startups, and female founders received just 2.3 percent of that. It isn’t getting better – according to Pitchbook, allwomen teams received 1.9 percent of available venture capital funding in 2022, and when you break it down further, women of colour received 0.39 percent. It is imperative that as an ecosystem, we go above and beyond to uplift women founders, connect them with funders, and encourage more women to actively participate in the venture capitalist space

2024 Celebrating


Chau Lui is the co-owner, along with her sister Trang, of Paris Jewellers a proudly Canadian -Vietnamese women-owned and operated jewelry company focused on community partnerships, customer experience and supporting women The company has a 90% women workforce

Paris Jewellers started in a 400 sq ft space in St Albert, AB and with Chau’s leadership has grown to 23 stores across 4 Canadian provinces with over 200 employees

Paris Jewellers aims to spread joy while making a difference in the community During the pandemic, they have raised over 100,000 meals for Food Banks Canada and over $250,000 for various Canadian charities including Make-A-Wish® Canada, The Matriarch Movement, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Canadian Women’s Foundation

Celebrating Women's Voices and Contributions

Chau is on the Board of Directors for The Canadian Jewellers Association, was Global’s Women of Vision, one of Edify’s Top 40 Under 40 and was a featured speaker in 2021 at the Women + Wealth Gala on International Women’s Day and MOMFest Hybrid Paris Jewellers has been featured in publications including etalk, People, FASHION, The Knot, BRIDES, Hello! Canada, Page Six, National Post, Popsugar, and Entertainment Tonight

As a female immigrant, I deeply understand the profound significance of inclusion It is the foundation upon which our communities thrive and a beacon of hope for a brighter future Inclusion means having a voice that is heard, valued, and respected

This International Women’s Day, let’s embrace diversity as a strength. By standing united, we can break barriers and pave the way for future generations.

In this shared journey, we are truly here today because of those who paved the path before us and inspire those who will follow. Every difference we make is a step towards creating an inclusive community that we would have wished we had grown up in.

2024 Celebrating

Laura Williams is not your average professional; she is a dynamic force and visionary thinker who blends her near three-decades of experience in law, business and corporate strategy to help leaders and organizations navigate the ever-evolving complexities of today’s workplace.

With a track record of success that speaks volumes, she's not only founded but nurtured two highly regarded firms: Williams HR Law LLP and Williams HR Consulting Inc. Laura is a sought after thought leader, keynote speaker, corporate educator, media contributor and innovator who has become one of the go-to voices helping workplaces reshape perspectives and recalibrate strategies

The Path to True Inclusivity for Women

As we celebrate International Women's Day, it's essential to recognize the incredible strides female entrepreneurs have made in shaping successful businesses worldwide Yet, amidst our celebrations, it's equally crucial to acknowledge the ongoing journey toward true inclusion

Despite significant progress, barriers persist, hindering women ' s access to funding and opportunities These challenges aren't solely external; intrinsic barriers also play a role Our mindset shapes how we perceive ourselves in the business landscape sometimes limiting our dreams or affecting our ability to negotiate and advocate for what we deserve

Today, however, we find ourselves in a different era There's a heightened focus on social justice, shedding light on the disparities faced by women, especially those from marginalized groups But herein lies our opportunity this is a time when we can harness our power, reaffirm our sense of belonging, and assert our worthiness of every opportunity that comes our way

By recognizing and overriding any self-imposed limitations, we pave the way for true inclusivity Together, we can challenge the status quo, ensuring that every woman feels empowered to pursue her dreams, unencumbered by societal constraints

Let us stand united, unwavering in our belief that we belong in every space and every opportunity Together, we can be the driving force for change, shaping a future where every woman--regardless of background or circumstance--can thrive and feel empowered in every endeavour she pursues Let's make inclusion more than a buzzword, it should be a lived reality for all

Happy International Women’s Day 2024!

2024 Celebrating

As Senior Vice-President Small Business and Partnerships and Head of Insurance, Julie’s mandate is at the core of how EDC serves Canadian companies as they grow their businesses internationally.

Julie oversees teams that deliver a wide range of services for every segment of EDC’s customer portfolio, from small businesses only beginning their exporting journey, to those larger and established exporters seeking to take their next step toward international growth Her responsibilities include small business sales, the insurance underwriting teams and working capital solutions, customer care, partner channels, and strategic alliances.

In addition to serving EDC’s mandate to grow Canadian exports, these teams played a vital role in supporting our customers and partners throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to provide many critical services as Canada builds back toward economic recovery

EDC's Holistic Approach for Diverse Entrepreneurs

Women in business are leaders in business

The bottom line of a woman-owned business often involves more than a dollar figure; we regularly see women starting a business with a desire to fill a gap they’ve found in community services, to right a social wrong, or to address the climate crisis

Thats two, three, or even four bottom lines

These women enter the world of business to create organizations based on values and purpose, aligning their business strategies to their sustainable business practices

They are leaders in their communities, in our society, and in business – and women entrepreneurs who export their goods and services can help communities and economies around the world face the same issues

However, women often cite difficulties accessing capital and finding international clients as barriers to international growth This is why Export Development Canada has a dedicated team that takes a holistic approach to inclusive trade – not only for women in trade, but for Indigenous peoples, Black and other racialized communities, persons with disabilities, and the 2SLGBTQI+ community

I am a passionate advocate for inclusion, diversity, and equity, and I have a role to play in inspiring, educating, and building awareness around the benefits of exporting At Export Development Canada, we share our exporting knowledge, provide financing and insurance solutions, and connect businesses with international opportunities, networks, and trade programs

Championing under-served business owners in Canada – and ensuring we have the tools to help them grow internationally – isn’t only the right thing to do, it’s something that will benefit our communities, the domestic economy, and global markets

2024 Celebrating

Victoria Lennox has transformed Canada's position on the global innovation map, founding Startup Canada, the Innovators and Entrepreneurs Foundation, and NACUE, creating enduring institutions that champion Canadian entrepreneurship. Her work, recognized across national and international platforms, embodies a relentless pursuit of economic development, innovation, and inclusive growth, leveraging policy, partnerships, and a deep commitment to empowering startups and small businesses.

Women Empowering a Diverse and Resilient Canada

In the face of the profound challenges that confront Canada today be it security, public health, digital governance, or the urgent crisis of climate change we find ourselves at a crossroads These challenges demand more than just solutions; they require a new kind of leadership A leadership that is not defined by its power to dominate, but by its power to unite and inspire

To the women of Canada, I say this: your role in this journey is indispensable Like the diverse and resilient country we are proud to call home, your diverse perspectives and strengths are the very essence of the innovation and unity we desperately need

Now is the moment to harness that strength, to step forward with courage and lead Not in the way that has been done before, but in a way that brings us together, bridges divides, and builds a future that reflects our shared values and aspirations.

This is not merely a call to action; it is a call to leadership of the highest order a leadership that, in the spirit of reconciliation and understanding, sees beyond the immediate horizon to the vast potential of what we can achieve together

Let us embrace this challenge with open hearts and unwavering determination, knowing that the path we choose today will shape the legacy we leave for generations to come. In this spirit, let every Canadian woman rise to the occasion, embodying the change we wish to see in the world Together, let us build a Canada that stands as a beacon of hope and unity

2024 Celebrating

7 reasons Canadian SMBs should explore Cisco Meraki Solutions:

Cisco Meraki offers tailored solutions for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Canada, providing simplified, cloud-managed IT infrastructure to drive efficiency, security, and scalability

There are several compelling reasons to consider using Cisco Meraki for your networking and IT infrastructure needs:

1- Simplified Management:

Cisco Meraki offers a cloud-based management platform that provides centralized control and visibility over your entire network This simplifies network management tasks, reduces complexity, and streamlines operations

2- Scalability:

Whether you ' re a small business or a large enterprise, Cisco Meraki solutions are designed to scale with your organizations needs You can easily add new devices, locations, or users to your network without the need for extensive configuration changes

3- Enhanced Security:

Cisco Meraki integrates advanced security features, such as a stateful firewall, intrusion detection and prevention, content filtering, and advanced threat protection. These features help protect your network from cyber threats and ensure data privacy and compliance ImageCourtesy:canva

52- CanadianSME-March2024

4- Reliability:

Cisco Meraki products are built with reliability in mind, offering high-performance hardware and robust cloud infrastructure This ensures uptime and availability for your critical business applications and services

5- Visibility and Analytics:

With Cisco Meraki, you gain deep visibility into your network traffic, applications, and users This enables you to make informed decisions, troubleshoot issues more effectively, and optimize network performance based on realtime data and analytics

6- Flexibility:

Cisco Meraki offers a wide range of networking solutions, including wireless access points, switches, security appliances, and mobile device management tools This allows you to tailor your network infrastructure to meet your specific business requirements

7- Ease of Deployment:

Cisco Meraki products are designed for easy deployment and configuration, with intuitive setup wizards and zero-touch provisioning This makes it simple to get your network up and running quickly, even for organizations with limited IT resources

With Cisco Meraki, SMBs in Canada can leverage enterprise-grade technology that is easy to deploy, manage, and scale, empowering them to drive digital transformation and achieve their business objectives with confidence.
Explore Cisco Meraki here: ImageCourtesy:canva Cloud Computing

Tech-powered progress: Closing the Entrepreneurial Gender Gap

There’s an age-old fact that women entrepreneurs face a harder time growing their businesses than their male counterparts due to several societal, systemic, and financial barriers There’s no doubt that these barriers still exist, but the last few years have seen a shift According to research from Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, the extent of women ’ s entrepreneurship activities particularly over the last few crisis-prone years has been rapidly evolving and diversifying despite all odds In fact, their research shows that one in three high-growth, innovation-oriented entrepreneurs are women

Technology, in part, is helping to flip the narrative. Notable challenges such as access to capital and networks, lack of quality training and education, overcoming gender stereotypes, and so on, are all being dismantled as more women leverage the power of technology to grow and scale

To better understand how women are breaking through existing barriers to success, we chatted with alumna from the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ program who has not only designed, built, and developed successful companies by embracing technology but have also pursued purpose well beyond profits to create a better working world for women following in their footsteps Here are the significant benefits technology has provided to help bridge the gender entrepreneurial divide and accelerate business models

Democratize access to global consumers

With the introduction of e-commerce capabilities, online platforms have democratized access to global markets, allowing women entrepreneurs to reach an extensive customer base and scale their businesses faster, without the need for substantial up-front investment in physical stores And now with the introduction of AI capabilities, companies can optimize and elevate their e-commerce platform for customers easily customizing the experience


54- CanadianSME-March2024

For Karen Danudjaja, the Co-Founder and CEO of Blume, 85% of her business was initially food service, which was quickly disrupted when the pandemic struck. However, using online education tools, she was able to learn how to quickly pivot the business to take on a 50/50 wholesale and e-commerce split accessing a whole new direct-toconsumer market and furthering Blume’s ability to scale distribution.

Provide cost-effective digital marketing tools

There are many free or low-cost tools provide support with search engine optimization, email marketing, content creation, and social media advertising, that help to empower entrepreneurs to market their businesses effectively and affordably, leveling the playing field with larger corporations

Hillberg & Berk, a Canadian, women-owned jewelry company celebrated for crafting high-quality and stylish pieces, has harnessed the power of their ecommerce and social media platforms to expand and scale the business globally Technology also plays a pivotal role in their efforts to raise awareness for causes dedicated to celebrating and uplifting women bringing them closer to their consumers

With the goal to engage meaningfully with causes they believe in, they’ve been championing International Women’s Day for over a decade For the second year, Hillberg & Berk launched its #GetExplicit campaign, addressing women ’ s issues that are often brushed under the rug From topics like pelvic and mental health to challenges women in professional sports experience, the initiative creates a valuable platform to shed light on these realities affecting numerous women

"Supporting women’s success is in our company ' s DNA," shares Hillberg & Berk Founder and CEO, Mielke. "Our digital platform gives us a chance to voice genuine, powerful stories that echo our brand's authenticity, all while spotlighting other women entrepreneurs and their companies.”


Empower workplace flexibility

Technology can also allow for greater flexible working arrangements that improve work-life balance, empowering women to make schedules that fit within their day-to-day lives Project management tools and video conferencing software, for example, allow women entrepreneurs to manage team collaboration remotely, providing flexibility to help balance work and personal commitments

Offer alternative avenues for funding

There are a number of tech-enabled avenues that present a promising shift towards levelling the playing field for women entrepreneurs seeking funding Crowdfunding, for example including websites like KickStarter and CircleUp allow entrepreneurs to directly appeal to the public to fund their ideas This can be beneficial for women entrepreneurs as it bypasses traditional gatekeepers of capital, and also allows them to leverage their networks for support


Additionally, online lending platforms often use different assessment criteria compared to traditional banks, focusing on business performance and potential rather than just credit history

Enable mentoring and collaboration

The introduction of social media and professional networking sites has enabled women to connect with and learn from successful entrepreneurs, mentors, and potential collaborators across the globe It also allows alumna in the Winning Women program to connect across industries and geographies

Bobbie Racette, Founder and CEO of Virtual Gurus and member of the program ’ s class of 2022, echoed that sharing, “whether through access to advisors and resources, executive education or introductions to the EY global entrepreneurial ecosystem, the Winning Women program is helping women entrepreneurs build stronger organizations, challenge perspectives and break down barriers to success. ”

Similarly, Virtual Gurus is helping to foster connection and opportunity between businesses and traditionally underrepresented communities who may have faced barriers to employment The company leverages proprietary technology to match organizations with highly skilled remote assistants from Canada and the US to perform an array of services

The successful businesses that these women have been able to launch and build are a testament to technology’s ability to unlock novel opportunities for innovation, growth and collaboration Not only are these Canadian trailblazers stepping up to fill important gaps in the market and creating jobs that bolster Canadas economy, but theyre also paying it forward by creating value for their peers, and inspiring future generations to take bigger strides towards closing the entrepreneurial gender gap

Tiki is a Partner in the Toronto Valuation Group within EY with over 20 years of professional experience and provides valuation advisory services for a variety of industries, including life sciences, technology, and consumer products & retail She has coordinated and led valuation assignments for public and private companies for acquisitions and divestitures, valuations for taxation and strategic planning purposes, shareholder reorganizations, litigation and restructuring support, intangible-asset valuations and financial reporting purposes Tiki also helps lead EY’s Entrepreneurial Winning Women program, a mentorship program with a goal towards helping women-led businesses scale and grow and is a champion for EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year program in the Ontario region. She is also a mentor in EY’s Women Athletes Business Network, while representing Canada on EY’s Americas Inclusiveness Advisory Council and the Americas Women in Private Equity Steering Committee Not only is she a partner sponsor for EY’s Women in Transactions Network, the Canadian representative on the Americas Women in Private Equity Steering Committee, formerly the chair of EY’s GTA Professional Women’s Network, and an active member of EY’s Diversity and Inclusiveness initiatives, but she is also a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization – a non-profit global peer advisory organization with a goal of improving business conditions and promoting advancement of women entrepreneurs

56- CanadianSME-March2024

There is more to International Women's Day than meets the eye; it is a worldwide rallying cry for women ' s emancipation and parity in power. It is a symbol of the fight against prejudice and discrimination that has never ended and of the many accomplishments made by women from all walks of life An annual celebration of women ' s achievements and struggles, International Women's Day has its roots in the early 20th-century labor movements and continues to have an impact throughout the world today

It is impossible to exaggerate the role of female business leaders in Canada's economic development and innovation They are essential to the country's economic growth, innovation, and employment creation They bring new ideas and viewpoints to the entrepreneurial scene via their many firms in fields as varied as healthcare, retail, technology, and finance

Despite several hurdles, such as access to financing, gender prejudices, and juggling work and home duties, women entrepreneurs in Canada continue to survive and make significant progress Their resilience, creativity, and determination not only propel their success but also serve as inspiration for future generations of women to chase their entrepreneurial aspirations.

What’s more, the ultimate objective of empowering women in all spheres of life and attaining gender parity is intricately linked to the prosperity of female leaders These superwomen are breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes to create more inclusive and diverse business environments where everyone can thrive, regardless of gender It is essential to acknowledge and support the significant contributions of these inspiring women to the Canadian economy as we celebrate International Women's Day Let's empower each other, inspire change, and build a legacy of inclusion Because when women rise, we all rise The human race looks forward to empowerment and inclusion as we inspire ourselves with each passing day #InspireInclusion


Throughout her varied career and tireless campaigning, Rechie Valdez whos both a serving Minister of Small Business and a successful entrepreneur has made significant contributions to the Canadian economy Her unique background and experiences enrich policymaking as the first Filipina Canadian to hold the office of minister in the federal government and as the first woman of Filipino descent to represent the Mississauga-Streetsville constituency Rechie has a first-hand understanding of the possibilities and threats that small companies face because of his fifteen years of experience in both finance and entrepreneurship, during which he founded a successful dessert company

Her commitment to economic expansion and community development is exemplified by her participation in philanthropic endeavors, including the coordination of basketball tournaments that benefit children's charities Minister Valdez's unwavering support for small businesses and entrepreneurs, coupled with her proactive demeanor, fosters economic growth and innovation throughout Canada.

Natasha Walji, Managing Director of Google Customer Solutions Canada, has played a critical role in boosting the Canadian economy by enabling small and medium-sized companies (SMBs) with breakthrough AI solutions Bringing a breadth of knowledge to her leadership position, Natasha's diversified career includes consulting, software development, and a great emphasis on community involvement

In addition to helping small and medium-sized businesses expand, her dedication to using technology for social good has had a more comprehensive social effect via her work in areas such as public health, poverty reduction, and disaster relief In her roles as an angel investor and member of Blue Ivy Ventures' Investment Committee, Natasha is actively involved in supporting Canadian entrepreneurs and promoting innovation in the business world Recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by WXN, Natasha’s diverse accomplishments highlight her crucial role in propelling economic development and social advancement nationwide

Mona-Lisa Prosper has achieved remarkable accomplishments in her role as director of the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program at Futurpreneur Canada to encourage inclusive economic development and entrepreneurship throughout the country Mona-Lisa, who possesses a legal foundation and vast industry experience encompassing fashion, technology, and economic development, is cognizant of the critical nature of resolving systemic obstacles that impede the progress of nascent enterprises

Minister of Small Business NatashaWalji Managing Director at Google
for Futurpreneur Canada

Under her guidance at Futurpreneur Canada, she has fervently advocated for diversity and inclusion, exerting considerable effort to deconstruct barriers encountered by African American entrepreneurs In addition to her professional responsibilities, Mona-Lisa maintains an active involvement in her community, holding the presidency of the Women's Young Chamber of Commerce of Québec and serving on multiple committees that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. Her unwavering commitment to cultivating a nurturing environment for entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups not only propels their achievements but also substantially enhances the robustness and liveliness of the Canadian economy

Under the leadership of the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) CEO Alison Simpson, innovation and economic expansion in Canada have been significantly propelled Alisons extensive background as a seasoned marketer and executive leader endows her with a profound comprehension of brand strategy and consumer engagement Before commencing her tenure at CMA, she occupied esteemed roles as the president of several agencies, and she also held C-Suite marketing roles for internationally recognized companies, including TMX Group, Rogers Communications, and Holt Renfrew

Alison is an active member of the community besides her professional pursuits. She is on the Advisory Board for the Smith School of Business’s Master of Management Analytics and Artificial Intelligence Program She has also served as a Board Director of the CNIB Foundation and MEC Alison Simpson’s enduring influence on the marketing domain in Canada, facilitated by her astute leadership and strategic acumen, stimulates the expansion of enterprises and propels GDP

Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) President and CEO Tabatha Bull is a fierce supporter of Indigenous peoples' rights to economic autonomy and racial harmony Tabatha, a member of the Nipissing First Nation, was named CEO of the Year by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce in 2022 for her exceptional leadership. Tabatha, who has a degree in electrical engineering, is devoted to helping promote diversity and inclusion among Indigenous peoples, especially in the energy industry

As an ardent advocate for diversity and the elimination of structural hurdles that limit possibilities for Indigenous women and companies in all sectors, Tabatha toils away at CCAB's mission to fortify the Indigenous economy She is so committed to helping Indigenous communities grow economically that she serves on many boards, such as Wigwamen Inc and the Dexterra Group

Tabatha's impact extends well beyond CCAB because of her tireless work with national and international political authorities, where she advocates for Indigenous business challenges and provides professional analysis Tabatha Bull has been an ardent advocate for a more equitable and prosperous Canadian economy, and her leadership has been essential in this movement



President & CEO, Export Development Canada (EDC):

With an unwavering dedication to ethical leadership and the promotion of economic expansion, Mairead Lavery has served as the President and CEO of Export Development Canada (EDC) She has been at the helm since 2019 In that time, she has been an outspoken supporter of trade initiatives, a champion of diversity and inclusion, and an advocate for the organization's environmental, social, and governance duties

Her leadership has been instrumental in EDC's meteoric rise in international assistance for Canadian companies, enabling a yearly trade and investment of over $100 billion across 200 markets As a key component of the Canadian government's economic reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak, EDC supplied vital liquidity to businesses throughout the country.

Beyond her role at EDC, Mairead has had a significant impact on the business environment in Ontario and innovation projects throughout Canada via her roles as Board Chair of FinDev Canada and on other advisory boards An important player in Canada's economic growth and international trade relations, Mairead brings a plethora of expertise to her post with a career in senior roles at Bombardier and a profound academic basis

KaylaIsabelle CEO at Startup Canada

Entrepreneurship promotion and economic expansion in Canada have been significantly propelled by the leadership of Startup Canada's CEO, Kayla Isabelle She has connected millions of entrepreneurs with the necessary tools and community to flourish by facilitating Startup Canada's initiatives, which have furnished them with invaluable support and resources Startup Canada has been transformed into a pillar of the entrepreneurial ecosystem due to Kayla's strategic vision and leadership, which have had a direct impact on the achievements of more than 300,000 entrepreneurs and fifty grassroots Startup Community organizations

Her advocacy and dedication to fostering diversity and inclusivity in the entrepreneurial scene are evident in her support of women in leadership roles and the tools offered by the Startup Women Podcast Kayla's commitment to empowering entrepreneurs of all backgrounds aligns with Startup Canada's goal of promoting economic prosperity and competitiveness through entrepreneurship, leading to substantial contributions to the Canadian economy

Strategically astute and steadfast in her dedication to fostering economic expansion in Canada, Isabelle Hudon, the President and Chief Executive Officer of BDC, is a dynamic leader. Isabelle brings to her position a multitude of experiences gleaned from her illustrious career, which includes serving as Canada's ambassador to France and Monaco and holding executive positions at Sun Life Financial

At BDC, Isabelle has been a driving force behind projects that seek to empower businesses and encourage sustainable economic growth Her team of 2,900 coworkers has been inspired by her to prioritize activities that have a significant effect and contribute to the advancement of the organization's objective By

virtue of her leadership, the BDC is intensifying its efforts to encourage economic development that is equitable, inclusive, and sustainable, therefore presenting itself as a catalyst for good change

Isabelle's commitment to community and culture is apparent not only in her position at BDC but also in her membership in numerous organizations and her numerous honours, which include being awarded the Commander of the Legion of Honour by the French government The enduring influence of Isabelle's forwardthinking leadership on the Canadian economy is evident in the way it continues to mould and enhance the country's prosperity

Vice President of Operations, National Partnerships, Outreach and Procurement at(BBPA)

A seasoned professional with a deep dedication to serving her community, Frances Delsol is the VP of operations, national partnerships, outreach, and procurement at the Black Business & Professional Association (BBPA) Frances, a proficient Procurement & Supply Management specialist with 36 years of experience, has effectively merged her dedication to social progress with her occupational vocation Her prior positions as Communications Director Corporate Secretary of the BBPA and founding President of the Council of Caribbean Association attest to her commitment to community service In these capacities, she promoted collaboration and elevated the status of marginalized communities

She is motivated to fix societal problems like racial discrimination and economic inequality because of how her parents taught her the value of "paying it forward" when she was growing up in Dominica Frances endeavors to establish robust collaborations and optimize initiatives under the auspices of the BBPA to better prospects and enhance the quality of life for African Canadians In doing so, she ultimately contributes to the economic well-being of Canada as a whole.

The significance of cultivating an inclusive workforce and the capacity for technology to bring about profound changes are both exemplified by Rola Dagher, the Global Channel Chief at Dell Technologies Rola's leadership philosophy revolves around providing exceptional service to both employees and consumers throughout her 25-year career in the technology sector Her advocacy for a corporate environment that values and respects individuals above all else is rooted in her Canadian upbringing and Lebanese heritage

Rola's zeal to establish a positive working atmosphere for her staff members demonstrates her conviction regarding the critical significance of a diversified and empowered labour force in propelling achievements in the era of digitalization Under her guidance, she not only propels Dell's worldwide endeavours forward but also renders substantial contributions to the Canadian economy, demonstrating an understanding that technology is fundamental to both economic growth and human advancement Fundamentally, Rola personifies the tenet that although technology can facilitate progress, individuals are the genuine catalysts for transformation

Being the CEO and Co-Founder of Ownr, Shadi McIsaac is a shining example of Canadian economic innovation and entrepreneurship Shadi has shown an enduring dedication to using technology to bring about revolutionary change throughout his impressive career in technology, which has included prominent positions at IBM and RBC Ventures. They have shown a dedication to enabling entrepreneurs and supporting company development throughout their path, from spearheading digital innovation at RBC Ventures to co-founding Ownr Aspiring company owners in Canada have significantly benefited from Shadi's assistance via Ownr, which has simplified the process of starting and growing businesses

With over 50 investments in early-stage businesses under their direction, their leadership at RBC Ventures has dramatically enhanced the vitality of Canada's startup environment In her role as an entrepreneur and mentor, Shadi has been and will be an inspiration to many, especially young women Canadian entrepreneur Shadi McIsaac exemplifies the drive for innovation and economic progress that characterizes the country McIsaac has an extensive background and a strong academic background, having earned a BA from Western University and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management

Using her business savvy and steadfast dedication to excellence and innovation, Manjit Minhas has made significant contributions to the Canadian economy as co-founder and chief executive officer of Minhas Breweries, Distilleries, and Wineries Manjit Minhas's incredible adventure began while she was a petroleum engineering student At the tender age of 19, she and her brother Ravinder entered the beer business Despite widespread skepticism, they were able to break into the Canadian beer market with a bang, catapulting their brand to new heights of prosperity

Minhas' goods, which include over 90 brands of beers, spirits, liqueurs, and wines, have received accolades in Canada, the United States, and 16 other countries Aside from her economic accomplishments, Manjit promotes social responsibility, spearheading programs such as voluntary management warnings on her goods to encourage responsible consumption With sales topping $220 million in 2020 and a slew of industry accolades to her credit, Manjit Minhas continues to exhibit innovation, leadership, and social conscience, influencing the Canadian economy and encouraging entrepreneurs throughout the country

When it comes to reviving and empowering Indigenous businesses throughout Canada, Carol Anne Hilton has been at the forefront of the #indigenomics movement as CEO and Founder of the Indigenomics Institute. Carol Anne has shown remarkable leadership in growing a movement around Indigenous economic systems from its humble beginnings as a single hashtag. Carol Anne is a trailblazer when it comes to bringing about significant change She serves as an adjunct professor at Royal Roads University’s School of Business She has director positions on prominent boards, including the BC Digital Supercluster and the Canadian Economic Growth Council

Reshaping the discourse and encouraging novel approaches for Indigenous communities, her support for the $100 billion Indigenous economic target constitutes a new norm Carol Anne is making a lasting difference on a national and international scale by bringing together institutions, relationships, and resources to help Indigenous economies thrive. She is devoted to bringing about national and global change that will continue for generations to come, and her strategic ideas and work on social, environmental, and economic initiatives are evidence of that


CEO - Women of Influence+

Dr. Rumeet Billan exemplifies a paradigm shift in leadership within Canada, utilizing her extensive range of skills and knowledge to reconfigure organizational climates and stimulate economic advancement The influence of Dr Billan, who founded Viewpoint Leadership and is CEO of Women of Influence+, is felt in many other fields Her groundbreaking investigation into Tall Poppy Syndrome has illuminated the systemic obstacles that women encounter in professional environments Moreover, her dedication to comprehensive wellbeing is exemplified through her partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association on the Happiness at Work Study

Dr Rumeet, who holds a doctorate from the University of Toronto and is a distinguished scholar, is also a well-known speaker and author whose perceptive contributions to education and personal growth are widely acknowledged Her commitment to empowering people of all ages is demonstrated by her TEDx presentation on The Future of Education and her best-selling book, "Who Do I Want To Become?"

Dr Rumeet, who is a member of the Board of Directors for First Book Canada and has received an abundance of honours, continues to influence the Canadian economy by advocating for workplaces that are resilient, inclusive, and prosperous.

As the Chief Executive Officer of Women's Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC), Alison Kirkland has played a pivotal role in promoting women ' s entrepreneurship and stimulating economic expansion in Canada WEOC has become an indispensable resource for women ' s entrepreneurial support organizations across the nation since her tenure began in 2019 Alison possesses an extensive repertoire of knowledge and skills in her capacity as a certified small business counsellor and possesses more than two decades of experience in communications management

Alison's strategic vision has resulted in the development of thorough training programs and creative financing initiatives, which have empowered female entrepreneurs nationwide She has dedicated herself to nurturing global relationships by sharing her expertise and experiences with businesses and organizations in Ukraine and Vietnam Alison's participation in programs like the CUSMA SME Counsellors Network Pilot Program and the Canadian Women's Chamber of Commerce demonstrates her commitment to promoting women ' s economic empowerment in Canada

AlisonKirkland CEO, Women's Enterprise Organizations of Canada


Ambassador for Canada, Women in AI

Prominent in the domain of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Frincy Clement is renowned for her revolutionary contributions to the Canadian economy and unwavering commitment to empowering women in technology In her capacity as the Women in AI community’s representative, she has led the expansion of the Canadian chapter, coordinating the efforts of more than 1250 members and 50 volunteers in seven locations

With her leadership in AI as a Principal Data Scientist at ADP and her previous roles at TELUS and AltaML, Frincy leverages her skills to foster innovation and development in addition to her community-building activities Her dedication to promoting the progress of women in STEM disciplines has garnered her acknowledgment, which culminated in 2021 with the prestigious Connection Honours Leaders of Excellence Award

Her trajectory from her roots in Kerala, India, to her present position as a reputable leader in artificial intelligence in Canada, Frincy, demonstrates her fortitude and resolve to surmount obstacles and bring about constructive transformation Frincy Clement’s ongoing leadership and advocacy efforts continue to yield significant benefits for the tech ecosystem and economy of Canada

As Dell Technologies Canada's Country Leader and Managing Director, Pamela Pelletier has had a significant impact on the country's economy via her work guiding the company ' s strategic direction and development Pamela has shown herself effective in driving sales growth and fostering professional development within the technology sector since taking on her post in May 2021 She has been essential in leading different areas, including Canada Commercial, Enterprise, and Federal

With over 20 years of experience, Pamela has shown herself to be an exceptional leader. Her unwavering commitment to advancing women in IT and her love of teaching and mentoring colleagues at Dell Technologies and beyond are testaments to her leadership skills. As a leader, her enthusiasm for taking on difficulties is contagious, and she uses them to her advantage by bringing people together and empowering them to achieve their maximum potential Pamela has made a real difference to the Canadian economy via her initiatives, which demonstrate her dedication to fostering development and innovation

The Canadian economy has significantly benefited from the leadership and knowledge of Sarah Steele, a renowned financial expert and current Senior Director of Visa Small Business Products Over the course of her twenty-plus-year career journey, Sarah has shown her mastery of strategy planning, team leadership, and product development in a variety of settings, including consulting and product management As a consultant at Visa, Sarah worked to improve her customers' bottom lines by coming up with creative product ideas and providing them with individualized consulting services She used her extensive knowledge of analytics and financial markets to glean valuable insights from Visa's payment processing data, which in turn drove the company ' s expansion

Currently, Sarah is in charge of a group of product managers responsible for driving go-to-market strategies in the United States and Canada for Visas small business products and platforms in North America Her extensive skill set, which encompasses strategy planning, product management, and risk management, highlights her significant impact on supporting the development of small businesses and the economic wellbeing of Canada

The Canadian economy has been forever changed by the legendary serial entrepreneur Michele Romanow, who is also the Executive Chairman of Clearco

From her time as the youngest Dragon on Dragons' Den at the young age of 28, Michele has tirelessly driven innovation in a wide range of businesses, garnering recognition such as Fortune's 40 Under 40 by the time she was 35 Clearco, her most recent creation, is the biggest e-commerce investor in the world, with a value of over $2 5 billion, and it has changed the face of venture capital with its innovative revenue-sharing model

Among Michele's many honours include the 2021 Innovation Award from the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards, which she has received for her dedication to promoting change and excellence in addition to her business pursuits Michele Romanow has left an everlasting impression on the Canadian entrepreneurial scene through her visionary leadership and dogged innovation, beginning with her first venture as an engineering student at Queen's University, where she spearheaded the first zero-consumer-waste café in North America

By virtue of her inventive approach to loungewear fashion, Ashley Freeborn, cond chief executive officer of Smash + Tess, has contributed ly to the Canadian economy Ashley and her mother saw a need in t and filled it in 2016 with the debut of Smash + Tess, a line of e yet reasonably-priced loungewear From a small team of three to employees strong, Smash + Tess has grown exponentially under her

sumes a diverse range of responsibilities in her capacity as CEO, supervision of design, financial planning, and innovative marketing Smash + Tess has amassed considerable acclaim for its partnerships rities and for being at the forefront of the Romper Revolution This romotes comfort and femininity for women of all physiques and

dedicated to philanthropy in addition to her business hments, spearheading charitable endeavours that benefit ons such as Mamas For Mamas and Matriarch Movement Her hments include being recognized as one of Canada's Top 40 Under acing Smash + Tess on The Globe and Mail's list of Top Growth s for three consecutive years, both of which are attributable to her al leadership and entrepreneurial acumen

MicheleRomanow Serial Entrepreneur, CoFounder & Executive Chairman Clearco, Dragon on Dragons' Den AshleyFreeborn


Chief Marketing Officer at EY Canada

The Canadian economy has been profoundly impacted by the remarkable marketing career of Fatima Israel, who has worked across a variety of industries for the last fifteen years Currently, she serves as Chief Marketing Officer at EY Canada. Fatima, in her role as Head of Brand, Marketing, and Communications, leads demand creation and growth marketing efforts with a data-driven and strategic focus on the client. She plays a multi-talented job at EY Canada, managing brands, digital marketing, social media, public relations, communications, and CSR She makes a big difference in the market and society

The fact that Fatima has served as a judge for the Canadian Marketing Association awards shows that her knowledge goes beyond her professional arena; she has an MBA from the Schulich School of Business Beyond her professional achievements, Fatima juggles the duties of a dedicated mom with her job, demonstrating her dedication to her family and her work Her commitment, multilingualism, and experience have given her a global view and her to make lasting contributions to Canada's economy

As the founder and co-chief executive officer of Indigenous Box Inc , Mallory Y is a force to be reckoned with in the Canadian economy She is also a driving force behind community participation and entrepreneurship With her wealth of experience, strong community connections, and educational background, Mallory leads efforts to promote positive change She holds the role of Chief Reconciliation Officer, where she champions Indigenous businesses and fosters valuable relationships between Indigenous communities and corporate Canada


Founder and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Indigenous Box Inc

Mallory's distinctive viewpoint, along with her Bachelor of Commerce in Supply Chain Management from MacEwan University and her achievement as the only Indigenous individual in Canada to receive a Supply Chain Management designation, establishes her as a pioneer in her industry She has a significant impact on the business world Plus, she contributes to initiatives focused on advancing Indigenous representation and economic development, making a lasting impression at local and national levels.

A driving force behind the revolutionary transformation in Canadas healthcare system, Amy Vodarek is a significant economic contributor and founder of Insight Edge. Amy has been involved in coaching and teaching for over 30 years, drawing on her experience as an APRN and professor at McMaster University's School of Nursing By establishing Insight Edge, she encourages healthcare industry women to think outside the box and drive innovation and progress by reimagining existing systems and solutions

Amy's entrepreneurial zeal, clinical expertise, and coaching prowess holistically establish her as an invaluable resource for women seeking to navigate the intricate landscape of healthcare leadership The support she provides to assist leaders in realizing their full potential and effecting significant change reflects her dedication to promoting organizational and individual culture transformation In addition to increasing the number of women in positions of authority, Amy's contributions improve the quality and efficacy of healthcare provision in Canada


Founder & CEO at TealBook

Stephany Lapierre, the Founder and CEO of Tealbook, is a pioneer in supplier intelligence, making substantial contributions to the Canadian economy Stephany is celebrated for her innovative approach to utilizing supplier intelligence, earning recognition as a prominent female tech entrepreneur and a leading figure in supply chain management She tackles the inefficiencies affecting enterprise buyers and suppliers by providing the largest, most robust B2B network powered by machine learning through Tealbook The author's perspective on Tealbook not only improves supplier data but also encourages creativity and value generation, establishing the company as a key player in Canada's changing procurement environment

Stephany Lapierre has been designated one of the Top 100 Most Influential Women in Supply Chain, and her firm Tealbook has received the Cool Vendor Award from Gartner and has been named one of Spend Matters' top 50 companies to watch Before Tealbook, Stephany dedicated a decade to establishing a thriving consulting firm specializing in strategic sourcing and procurement, with a focus on large-scale sourcing optimization projects

A management consultant and company entrepreneur with extensive, varied expertise, Zulfira Pulotova founded Connect Local & Global Inc and has made significant contributions to the Canadian economy For over 15 years, Zulfira has helped organizations both at home and abroad by drawing on her knowledge in research, program management, and capacity development.

Her consulting and training services, offered via Connect L&G, assist social purpose organizations, small enterprises, and nonprofits with strategy, sales, leadership, and customer service, among other areas With her extensive history in consulting, Zulfira creates engaging classes that help company owners and workers succeed, which in turn encourages innovation and development in Canada's corporate world To drive economic success and social impact, Zulfira exhibits leadership and entrepreneurship via her dedication to lifelong learning and community participation


By virtue her innovative approach to IT and telco recruitment, Aneela Zaib, Founder and CEO of emergiTEL, has had a substantial impact on the Canadian economy Under her guidance, emergiTEL has significantly transformed conventional recruitment approaches by establishing an all-encompassing 3D qualification system that evaluates applicants based on their cultural compatibility, technical aptitude, and interpersonal skills

Customizing the approach not only guarantees that job requirements and candidates are optimally matched but also promotes the sustained success and retention of employees. Aneela's unwavering commitment to promoting gender diversity is apparent in the endeavors of emergiTEL, where women occupy 75% of senior leadership positions and 40% of technical positions. These figures demonstrate her determination to cultivate inclusive work environments within the technology sector in Canada


By empowering marginalized communities, Adebola Adefioye, Founder and Executive Director of the Afro Women & Youth Foundation, has made substantial contributions to the Canadian economy After observing the difficulties her daughter encountered while relocating to Canada due to prejudice, Adebola established the Afro Women and Youth Foundation to assist migrant and Black women and youth who were confronted with comparable obstacles.

The foundation has established initiatives in Toronto and Sudbury, Ontario, in conjunction with benefactors, partners, and members of the community, to cultivate self-advocacy, leadership, and self-assurance among racialized adolescents and women of African descent Through the provision of mentorship programs, workshops, and training about topics such as gender-based violence and anti-Black prejudice, Adebola's organization advocates for systemic change and inspires individuals Driven by a desire to foster a cohort of empowered leaders and exemplars, Adebola's endeavours serve as a prime illustration of how grassroots movements can effect profound changes in economic well-being and social integration


A perfect example of a leader with a mission is Dr Tina Elinwa, founder of Dawnspring Consulting Inc and Transvolve Academy Armed with a Ph D in Communications and over a decade of expertise in marketing and communications, she has left an indelible mark on the Canadian economy. Tina has transformed company strategy via Dawnspring Consulting Inc., enabling teams and executives to effectively overcome complicated obstacles Tina's influence, however, transcends boardrooms Her dedication to community involvement and mentoring young people demonstrates her conviction regarding the efficacy of altruism She has spearheaded a platform for personal and business development through Transvolve Academy, which provides an abundance of resources, mentorship programs, and events to empower women and nurture boundless development

Tina's pursuit of a purposeful existence is an inherently rewarding journey a notion she continues to steadfastly uphold as evidenced by her holistic approach, which combines professional excellence with a deep sense of social responsibility


President & Founder, The Brand is Female

By virtue of her entrepreneurialism and communications strategy expertise, Eva Hartling, President and Founder of The Brand is Female, has contributed significantly to the Canadian economy Through strategic alliances with notable corporations, including TD, L'Oréal, and Sony Pictures, her consulting practice has propelled expansion and innovation in a variety of industries

More importantly, Eva's establishment of The Brand is Female, the preeminent podcast on female leadership in Canada, serves as a testament to her dedication to cultivating inclusive work environments and empowering leaders who are underrepresented Eva continues to promote equitable leadership and foster opportunities for women and marginalized communities by means of strategic consulting, media production, and DEI initiatives In doing so, she ultimately contributes to the progress of the Canadian economy

Sachi Kittur, the founder and chief flavour officer of Sachili, has made significant and lasting contributions to the Canadian economy via her diverse range of activities Sachi, who has collaborated with visionary CEOs of successful technology start-ups, including Sigma Systems, Yahoo Canada, and others for over two decades, has been instrumental in driving business growth through operational excellence and strategic talent management

With her proficiency in establishing high-performing organizations, cultivating critical competencies, and mentoring leaders, she has facilitated the development of genuine cultures propelled by empathetic leadership and invested personnel Presently serving as the leader of Sachili, Sachi's entrepreneurial trajectory has reached its culmination, providing indispensable perspectives to bolster entrepreneurial pursuits and leadership in the everevolving Canadian business environment

The CanadianSME community consists of readers who have high regard for current enterprises and entrepreneurial initiatives. Entrepreneurs can remain connected and active with this group by following @canadian sme on X. Please click here to subscribe to CanadianSME magazine and remain up to date on all current business trends and developments.

CLICKHERE Exclusive access to Canadiansme Digital Magazine

After over 10 years of working in information technology and property management, Jenna Ross wanted a taste of something new In October 2021 it came to her: “One day, I woke up and said to myself, it doesn’t matter if this [idea] is not related to what I’m currently doing – I want to go with it ” That idea was the Nova Scotian Cookie Company – a shortbread cookie company that would pay homage to her home province

Shortbread is a Nova Scotia tradition thanks to the prevalence of Scottish heritage in the province – but Ross wanted to take her recipe one step further to reflect this culture Inspired by the Honolulu Cookie Company, which sells cookies shaped like the iconic pineapple, she came up with a shortbread cookie shaped like a lighthouse – a symbol of safety for centuries of seafarers

TheNova ScotianCookie Company bakesup success

While Ross had the experience of running her own property management business, shifting from a service-based business to selling a commercially packaged product was a “learning curve ” , she says In the early days of the Nova Scotian Cookie Company, she recalls tracing a lighthouse shape on a piece of paper over the cookie dough to cut it out in the absence of proper equipment What helped her move the business ahead was seeking help locally, she says: “We consulted a lot of organizations in Nova Scotia to help us get connected with the right people and understand the food science, packaging, and recipe development involved.”

But the challenges for her business did not stop there – finding funding for the Nova Scotian Cookie Company could only be described as “financial gymnastics”, Ross says The fact that she and her husband already owned other businesses made the process of applying for funding especially slow, with each funder having to sort through the different year-end statements of each one

70- CanadianSME-March2024

In November 2023, she received a sum of funding that fell short of her requested amount by $50,000 The following day, she connected with the Centre for Women in Business (CWB), an organization that supports women entrepreneurs with business advice and networking, where an advisor told her about the WEOC National Loan Program

The program, which is run by the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC), offers loans of up to $50,000 to women entrepreneurs or womenmajority businesses, as well as wraparound supports. As a loan fund partner of the program, CWB helped set Ross up to apply for the exact amount of funding she was seeking.

Since receiving the loan, Ross says she has been able to get her cookies onto shelves in grocery stores across Nova Scotia: “[The funding] allowed us to have the additional money to scale and make that happen ” They also landed their cookies in their first store outside of Nova Scotia at a Burlington, Ontario-based store called RevolutionHer, which sells hundreds of women-owned brands

The 2022 WEOC’s Bootstrap or Borrow report found that while twothirds of women entrepreneur respondents wanted to grow their businesses in the next three years, only 50 percent had applied for funding in the same period But Ross says funding played a pivotal role in her ability to take the business to the next level: “If you want to scale your business, you need to apply for money even before you need it,” she says “You don’t want to get yourself in a situation where you can’t take opportunities, and you can’t scale the way you want to For your business to be successful, it’s important to access capital ”

Looking ahead, Ross says she wants to keep expanding beyond Nova Scotia – and that work is already in progress: Her shortbread cookies were featured in the gift suite at last year ’ s Golden Globe Awards in Los Angeles

But even as she looks beyond Nova Scotia for her business, the home remains integral to Ross’ work The idea for the Nova Scotian Cookie Company was largely driven by her desire to make a difference in her community A portion of their sales currently go towards the Smart Cookie Literacy Society, an initiative to give children’s books to organizations and schools The cookies are also baked at the Flower Cart Group, a social enterprise group of companies that train Nova Scotians who face barriers to employment For Ross, being able to give back is what motivates her to drive the business forward: “We want to share the love of Nova Scotia with the world so we can make more of an impact ”


Head of Solutions Engineering at Cisco Canada

In an insightful discussion with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Oleg Tolchinsky, the Head of Solutions Engineering at Cisco Canada, sheds light on the critical intersection of technology, trust, and data privacy. Oleg, who has dedicated over 16 years to mastering the application of technology in solving complex challenges, emphasizes the importance of viewing customer problems through a comprehensive lens before proposing Cisco's solutions He articulates the significance of data privacy not just as a compliance requirement but as a cornerstone of customer trust and business success With the advent of Generative AI technologies and the associated privacy concerns, Oleg highlights Cisco's balanced approach through its Responsible AI Framework, ensuring innovation does not compromise ethical standards. His philosophy of 'living to serve ' aligns with Cisco's commitment to transparency, trust, and the protection of sensitive data, reinforcing the company ' s dedication to navigating the future of digital privacy with integrity and foresight.

Oleg Tolchinsky is Head of Solutions Engineering at Cisco Canada. He works with customers, partners, and some of the finest technical sales professionals in the world to deploy the special combination of modern technologies and industry knowledge that help businesses overcome their most pressing challenges. Oleg has spent his life learning how to use technology to solve difficult problems and earning accreditations along the way --- knowledge he has applied to various roles in engineering, sales, and leadership over 16 years in the industry Oleg has consistently performed in the top tier of his profession working with some of Canada’s largest companies and garnering numerous awards and accolades, but none more important than the trust from his customers and team that he will deliver results Oleg is a proud Winnipeger, a mediocre guitarist, a husband, and a father of two amazing kids

Can you take us through your professional journey, highlighting how your transition from technologist to sales leadership at Cisco Canada has influenced your approach to addressing today's data privacy challenges?

As Head of Solutions Engineering at Cisco Canada, I believe in the good that technology can do My career has shown me the value of looking at customer challenges holistically –considering industry and specific business challenges, organizational nuances, the unique benefits of technologies, and only then how Cisco solutions can play a role When you can combine this knowledge and produce helpful insights, you can make businesses better


At Cisco, we recognize that privacy is more than a compliance exercise – it has become a business imperative that is inextricably tied to customer trust When choosing and doing business, customers have so many factors to consider, but one fundamental question is universal: “Do I trust you?” If they don’t trust how you handle their data, you won’t get or keep their business. That is why we embed security and privacy into everything we do.

In view of the 2024 Data Privacy Benchmark Report released by Cisco, what are your thoughts on the significant number of organizations banning Generative AI applications like ChatGPT, and how does Cisco Canada navigate these privacy risks?

Cisco’s 2024 Data Privacy Benchmark Study shows that organizations are getting significant value from generative AI (GenAI) applications, but they also have increasing concerns about data privacy Organizations are navigating a thin line when it comes to adopting GenAI On one side, organizations realize the fundamental importance of data privacy In this year ’ s survey, 95% indicated that privacy’s benefits exceed their costs But, businesses also understand how transformational GenAI can and are trying to capture this potential But GenAI and being responsible with data are not mutually exclusive

Responsible innovation requires an ethical framework by design Realizing AI’s significant promise while adhering to standards for transparency, fairness, accountability, privacy, security, and reliability is an ongoing mission at Cisco This is the promise of Cisco’s Responsible AI Framework, which applies to our AI offerings

Considering that 69% of companies fear AI might infringe on legal and Intellectual Property rights, what strategies do you think are vital for organizations to mitigate these concerns while harnessing the benefits of AI?

The data shows that almost all organizations reported having at least one of the following controls in place to limit their exposure: data limitations, tool restrictions, data verification requirements, and GenAI usage restrictions As this technology evolves, we expect the nature of the controls to also evolve as organizations seek to harness the power of GenAI without risking unauthorized ingestion nor output of data


Going forward, organizations must continue to prioritize and maintain trust, transparency, and accountability We recommend that organizations be candid in how they apply, manage, and use personal data, as well as involve humans in the process, especially in AI ethics management By doing so, organizations can work with their employees to bolster education and awareness of the risks and benefits of AI, working together to mitigate risks. Lastly, businesses should continue to invest in privacy.

The report indicates a disparity between business priorities and consumer expectations in data usage, especially in AI. How do you think businesses, including Cisco, can bridge this gap to build stronger consumer trust?

The report shows that understanding exactly how personal data is being used is the top priority for consumers (37%) While for organizations, their top priority hinges on their ability to comply with privacy laws (25%). Organizations know these issues are important to customer trust, and nearly all organizations (97%) feel they have a responsibility to use data ethically Businesses will need to provide transparency in

e with een ess
ow eport o how Cisco nsitive e
ada's at’s
th es on of and ImageCourtesy:canva Interviews
ed, Our
' and
es this

Personalizing Succession:

Brad Nathan, the driving force behind Lynx Equity Limited, brings a refreshingly personal approach to the often impersonal world of business succession planning, in his interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine His entrepreneurial journey, marked by early lessons in outsourcing and a passion for small business impact, culminated in the founding of Lynx Equity Limited This firm stands apart for its dedication to the small to medium market, focusing on creating seamless transitions for retiring business owners Nathan's philosophy that "business is personal" shapes every deal, ensuring that the legacy of business founders is honored and their life's work continues to contribute to the economy. By treating businesses as communities of people rather than mere transactions, Brad and his team at Lynx Equity Limited have mastered the art of human-centric succession planning. This approach not only facilitates smoother transitions but also strengthens the fabric of the business community, making Lynx Equity Limited a beacon of integrity and empathy in the business world

Brad Nathan, is the president of Lynx Equity Limited, and as the president he is focused on helping the team define their strategy and goals for their clients, but his real bread and butter is focused on succession planning for the small to medium market with the goal to buying 100% of companies for those retiring and help the business remain manageable and contributing to the economy While some people believe that business is business, and not personal, Brad really believes that business is personal, especially in this particular market because he understands how each business owner - like himself - has put their blood, sweat and tears into their business. So, really, it is personal to them and to run

President of Lynx Equity Limited

a successful business, it should be personal. In his own business management, and with the succession planning of his clients, this is something he focuses on and ensures that when he gets in on the ground level, it's not taken away from them in developing their exit and succession strategy

Brad, could you share more about your journey leading to the establishment of Lynx Equity Limited's unique approach to succession planning, particularly focusing on the small to medium market? How do you incorporate the personal stake of an SME into the strategies and goals you set for your clients and their companies?

I was always entrepreneurial I remember, when I was very young, collecting $51 00 from the Toronto Star for delivering the paper I was proud of myself, and I recall telling my parents,“I don't need to go to school anymore ” ; because of the money I was making, and they laughed and said, “Well, you have to give $49 00 of it back to the Toronto Star for the papers ” And I quickly realized at this young age that maybe my dad could do the deliveries for me - I guess I had learned how to outsource and I also realized that I didn’t want to work for anyone else That was a guiding point for me as I eventually became a CPA and completed my MBA in International Studies and Finance During which I learned that I liked working with small businesses because I felt it was an area in business where you could make a real difference


I went into venture capital and while I saw the whole world investing in the dot com space (with no revenue), I also saw a whole market of people looking to sell their businesses and retire and it was an area that no one was paying attention to. I decided that I wanted to pay attention to them, and take a different approach than what the business world was used to at the time I decided to take a friendly approach to business, put my arm around the sellers, working out ways to create win-win situations, making sure that everyone involved was happy with the business environment that was created This gave birth to Lynx Equity Limited

What we ’ ve seen over the years is how the small and medium-market has been able to flourish and contribute to the greater Canadian economy Despite many economic shifts that have happened over the years, it’s been wonderful to support and foster this wave since 2007

When we look at how we approach these businesses - we have to always remember that businesses are people first, and they likely built the businesses with a lot of blood, sweat and tears. We can’t approach them the same way a billion dollar corporation headquartered in a busy city centre would. Buyers have to be very personal in the approach that they take with these companies, and that is what we specialize in at Lynx Equity Limited We’ve spent years cultivating the craft to ensure we are always meeting the needs of the sellers first, which requires consistently considering the human aspect of the business first

What are some of the most common hurdles you ' ve encountered in succession planning for SMEs? How does Lynx Equity Limited work to overcome these challenges?

The most common hurdles that we ' ve faced when buying businesses is threefold:

The readiness of the seller: While it’s often not easy for sellers to give up the reins of their businesses to potential buyers for a number of reasons, having a clear transition plan is critical in their readiness to sell


The valuation gaps: It’s important that the seller and the buyer align on the value of the company through a critical analysis process The two parties ultimately have to agree on what the value of the business truly is in order for a fair and successful transaction to be made possible Without that gap minimization, there is no way a transaction can take place I’ve seen buyers hold out and miss an excellent opportunity and I've seen sellers hold out for an unreasonable sale price only to have the business go downhill after a failed sale Of course, in all fairness, after seeing so many deal opportunities, I've seen things go in opposite directions, too


Deal terms confidence: Oftentimes, the seller has a difficult time grasping that they won’t get the entire amount of money for their business upon closing They need to understand and be comfortable with the terms of the deal, ultimately being able to trust the buyer to pay the seller note over time

From a Lynx perspective, how we’ve overcome the above hurdles are:

We’ve typically shied away from businesses where there's no clear succession plan or if the owner is fundamentally too important to the day to day business In these cases, if the business success is rooted in the involvement of the owner, then the owner stepping away and selling the business won’t be possible and will be a greater risk to the transition In some rare exceptions we ’ ve built-in much longer transition times, allowing us to work together with sellers to find a right replacement

ImageCourtesy:canva Interviews



We look at a lot of businesses and have the advantage of both seeing and doing lots of transactions As a result, there have been a number of times where we have had to pass on good opportunities because of an inability to bridge a given gap Part of our success is because of the amount of opportunities that we look at, ultimately only pursuing a very select number Additionally, we often use the expression “ you name the price, and we’ll name the terms' and we ' ve been able to close valuation gaps with terms on the purchase of the business that are favourable to us in lieu of paying a lower price

Our team is deeply experienced in making successful transactions, and we have excellent reference points As a result of our track record and being in the position for potential sellers to talk with past sellers about their experiences working with us to past sellers, it makes having confidence and trust in us, and the transaction, much easier

From your extensive experience with SMEs, what factors or considerations do you believe are crucial for ensuring a smooth transition during succession planning?

As I’ve mentioned before, we ’ re very specialized at Lynx Equity Ltd so what we are thinking about how to create a smooth transition in succession comes down to one factor for me - which is the people At the end of the day, the people who are in the business will have the most influence, as well as will have the most impact from the transition of sale So, as specialized buyers, we are thinking about how the people will be impacted and how we incorporate them into our process This comes down to the root of a smooth transition, which is finding the right people for the transition, and picking the right company to support in its transition. We have a whole HR group that is focused on finding those right people and transition opportunities to ensure that is beneficial to all of the people involved

In the context of SME’s, business can be very personal for them, especially in the context of succession planning. How has this belief influenced your strategies and trends you ' ve observed in the market, and how do you see it impacting Lynx Equity Limited's approach to acquisitions and succession planning in the future?

It’s important to acknowledge that these businesses are truly like family By this I mean the business itself makes up the existing familys legacy, and the people that make up the business are the extended family that these sellers are trying to ensure that they can take care of This level of personal connection and stake to the business as a whole means that we, as a buyer, will always have to go the extra mile in developing strategies that are sensitive, delicate, and respectful to sellers and the families that they have created within the business There isn’t a onesize-fits-all model that will work for this market Rather, it’s a tailored approach - one that is focused on befriending these businesses, understanding who they are, and what they want, and collaborating with them to identify what’s best for the business and its people. The most important (and humbling) reminder for a buyer is that the seller knows the business better than anyone else (even the buyer), and they need to be included in the strategies that are implemented

Lynx Equity Limited's engagement in community and charity work, from medical care and research to animal protection, is notable. Can you discuss why this aspect of social responsibility is a priority for your company?

We have a lot of investors with great charities that we are happy to support, and some of those charities include animal protection and medical care Personally, Ive always been a huge animal lover, and they don't have a voice and I think it's up to humanity to be their voice for their welfare Its an honor to be able to have the animals we do have in this world, and if you ’ re in a position [like we are at Lynx Equity Ltd] to be able to make a change, I truly believe that you should try and do that This sentiment also translates to the medical care support that we offer as well. Canada has always been far more slow and cautionary in its approach to medical care innovation and research, and if there is a way that we can contribute to enhancing the quality of research and care that Canadians (current and future generations) could get, and subsequently the quality of life for Canadians, then I want our group to be a part of that

77- CanadianSME-March2024 Interviews

Business Woman of the Month

Co-Founder of Curabit and SOHS

Sana's entrepreneurial journey began with a p moment during her tenure as an actuarial ass where she recognized the limitations of the co world in fulfilling her desire for impactful chan Motivated by this realization, she co-founded C driven by a vision to leverage technology and innovation to address real-world challenges

However, it was during her experiences at Amazon and as a consultant that Sana truly grasped the transformative potential of entrepreneurship Inspired by the resilience and creativity of small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs, she founded SOHS (Speedy On-Demand Home Services) with a mission to revolutionize the at-home services industry.

Driven by a commitment to empower entrepreneurs and streamline operations, Sana's vision for SOHS is to create a platform that not only addresses the challenges faced by service providers but also transforms the way at-home services are delivered. With a passion for innovation and a relentless pursuit of excellence, Sana is poised to shape the future of the at-home services industry and empower individuals to realize their full potential

In addition to her ventures in the at-home services industry, Sana is the proud owner of a consulting firm and a vending machine company This diverse portfolio reflects her entrepreneurial spirit and her dedication to exploring new opportunities for growth and impact in various sectors


Revolutionizing At-Home Services with Innovation and Vision

Entrepreneurship requires resilience and hard work that stems from commitment, which requires investment of time, energy and resources Like all business leaders and entrepreneurs, these qualities are present in the co-founder of Curabit and SOHS (Speedy OnDemand Home Services) Sana Mungroo This is why the CanadianSME Small Business Magazine proudly celebrates her as the Business Woman of the Month for the March edition of our magazine. Sana co-founded Curabit with the purpose of driving significant change via technology and innovation, which was inspired by an epiphany she had during her corporate employment and began her entrepreneurial adventure She established SOHS (Speedy OnDemand Home Services) with the goal of transforming the at-home services business, drawing both her background as a consultant and her time at Amazon 78- CanadianSME-March2024

SOHS: Redefining the At-Home Services Industry

Bridging the Gap:

Recognizing the need for a smooth link between service providers and clients, SOHS emerged as a pioneer in the at-home services sector Both sides had difficulties with traditional procedures, which made it harder to operate businesses efficiently and get services This critical need is met by SOHS, which provides a comprehensive solution that streamlines operations and improves convenience for everyone involved.

One Platform for All:

Emphasizing the Needs of Users:

The fundamental principle of SOHS is to provide an inclusive, user-centric experience to people from all walks of life The platform's user-friendly design makes it ideal for both seasoned entrepreneurs and those just starting out in the field Everyone can benefit from SOHS's creative solutions since they prioritize accessibility and simplicity

A Sustainable Ecosystem:

SOHS envisions a mutually beneficial ecosystem where businesses flourish, and customers receive exceptional service Through common incentive systems and cross-promotion across enterprises, SOHS generates chances for development and cooperation. Each new client is a potential opportunity for another, creating a virtuous cycle of success thanks to the network effect.

Navigating the Future Prospects:

The mission of SOHS goes beyond meeting immediate needs; it also includes planning for the future of home health care This platform remains ahead of market developments by constantly expanding and adopting cutting-edge technologies Users can always expect maximum ease and pleasure. The potential for home health care is enormous with SOHS; in fact, it's revolutionary.

Tailored for Service Providers:

The unique selling point of SOHS is the integrated platform it offers, which merges the features of a customer management system with an app for in-home services With this connection, service providers can run their businesses more smoothly, and clients can find and book services with ease using a user-friendly interface. Through the consolidation of these qualities, SOHS establishes an environment that facilitates smooth interaction between companies and consumers Features

A variety of features and tools are available to service providers via SOHS with the goal of improving company operations. In order to help companies succeed in today's market, the platform offers features such as location-based reservations, dynamic calendar displays, and flexible hour settings A more streamlined experience for all users is fostered by the client Management Platform, which further improves productivity by making it easy for providers to manage client profiles and reservations

The entrepreneurial endeavours of Sana Mungroo, especially with SOHS, showcase a remarkable display of ingenuity and vision within the home services market An outstanding representation of accessibility, creativity, and convenience in the rapidly growing realm of at-home services, SOHS is always developing and adapting to meet the needs of its clientele

To learn more or sign up, visit their official website by clicking on this link here.

Learn and uncover CanadianSME Business Magazine's essential insights for startups and established businesses Subscribe today for important information Follow @canadian_sme on X for updates Join our active community of business enthusiasts as we strive for success!

79- CanadianSME-March2024 BusinessWomanoftheMonth

Why SMBs Need to Go Beyond Smoke and Mirrors Security

In the ever-evolving world of cyber threats, small and mediumsized businesses (SMBs) face a constant battle to safeguard their digital information while balancing limited resources and security expertise Added to this is the rise of AI-powered attacks, signifying a significant shift in the landscape and making cybersecurity more challenging than ever Amidst this shift is a growing misconception that automation is the silver bullet for all security woes However, the truth is far from this ‘set it and forget it’ illusion

The Illusion of ‘Set It and Forget It’ Security:

Many businesses fall into the trap of investing in security too late and accumulating security debt’ or thinking that automation will take care of everything This approach has led to an unfortunate increase in SOC 2 security audits that are more smoke and mirrors than they are proper security – creating genuine risks for Canadians caught in the middle

80- CanadianSME-March2024

In reality, while automation is integral to any robust security strategy, it doesn’t cover the entire risk landscape Cyber threats are not static; they evolve rapidly, often outpacing the capabilities of automated defenses, and internal training is always quick to fall by the wayside The notion that once a security system is in place, it requires no further attention is a dangerous misconception Security must be a dynamic, continuously evolving process, adapting to new threats, regulations and your business’ needs

The Role of Human Oversight

Recent trends also show a worrying increase in cybercrime, with breaches and threats becoming wider in scope and increasing in sophistication. Threat actors now leverage AI to enhance and scale social engineering attacks and exploit common security gaps. This escalation necessitates a shift in how businesses approach cybersecurity. To protect your organization, clients, and partners, it’s no longer enough to rely on ‘automated security’ or general checklists. Businesses must build a tailored approach to security that aligns with their objectives and resources while trying to avoid overwhelming their teams. Doing so can be a challenge for enterprise organizations, not to mention SMBs. However, by combining expert handson support with automated tools, you can continuously monitor and update your security practices – without overburdening your team.

Viewing security as an ongoing investment is essential for your business Installing security measures and assuming they will remain effective indefinitely is a misconception As your business grows and evolves, so should your security strategies Regular assessments, updates, and training for your team are critical components of a comprehensive security program While this does require some manual effort, having a proactive approach helps protect you from current threats while providing the necessary training and agility to meet future challenges After all, automation brings efficiency, but it cannot complete all of the work required to implement a strong security program So why not have both? By building strong security practices with hands-on guidance and assistance from a team of experts, SMBs are transforming their approach to security – without breaking the bank.

Combine Experts and Automation

The realm of cybersecurity is far from static The increasing sophistication of cyber threats, particularly those powered by AI, demands an equally dynamic and vigilant approach to security For SMBs, this means looking beyond the allure of automation and recognizing the importance of continuous improvement in your security strategies

If you have an upcoming security audit or if building a security program seems overwhelming, we encourage you to reach out to us to learn more about adopting good security practices and safeguarding your business

81- CanadianSME-March2024 Cybersecurity

As a small business owner, it's easy to become entangled in the daily whirlwind of tasks, potentially hindering strategic planning and limiting your business's growth. Many entrepreneurs I've spoken with acknowledge this challenge but grapple with breaking free from the day-to-day operational demands

In this article, I'll share techniques honed during my corporate career that helped me shift from battling priorities to achieving increased focus and productivity, ultimately resulting in greater business results As I transitioned to an entrepreneur, these strategies continued to serve me well I hope they help you redirect your focus to pivotal priorities, propelling your business forward

Break Free From the Daily Grind: A Quick Guide For Small Business Success

Focus on the Right Things

Learning to prioritize effectively is key to ensuring that crucial tasks are not overshadowed by the daily grind. Start by assessing your use of time and to-do list. Then evaluate and identify:




High-value activities – the 20% that will yield the most impact. Devote the majority of your time to these.

Activities that don't demand your expertise but still need attention Delegate these

Unnecessary activities - distractions getting in the way of achieving your goals. Eliminate these.

You can use the Eisenhower Matrix, a simple four-quadrant tool, to organize and prioritize tasks by urgency and importance I’ve found this tool incredibly helpful in guiding me on what to prioritize first from my never-ending to-do list

Get Your Team Involved

While you may hesitate to delegate certain tasks, ask yourself if you are the only person capable of performing them and if you are prioritizing what is truly urgent and important If not, then you should delegate the task in question Identify a team member who has the skills to perform this task at least 70% as well as you can and make sure you:

Give detailed instructions and set clear expectations on what you need them to do and by when

Provide the necessary training, resources, and guidance to help them succeed without micromanaging.

Check-in regularly to monitor progress and keep the lines of communication open.

Offer actionable feedback, recognize, and celebrate good work.

As you effectively delegate, not only do you free up crucial time for strategic endeavors, but you also foster a culture of trust and growth by empowering your team to contribute meaningfully to the success of the business

Plan Intentionally

To stay laser-focused on your priorities, these tactics are indispensable They've made a world of difference for me and my clients, propelling us significantly closer to our goals

Take the time to plan the upcoming week ahead, aligning daily priorities with your broader monthly and quarterly goals

Set morning intentions to kickstart each day with purpose Identify and list the urgent and important activities critical to achieving your goals Make it a habit to tackle these tasks first

Make time to think big - block dedicated time each week for strategic thinking and planning Communicate this to your team to foster an interruption-free environment, enabling increased productivity for all

Practice self-reflection by regularly reviewing and assessing whether you are spending your time on what matters the most to reach your goals A quick selfcheck: If someone were to scrutinize your calendar, could they easily identify the goals you are actively pursuing?

Schedule self-care and regularly allocate time for rest and rejuvenation to safeguard your well-being

Implementing these tips will empower you to use your time strategically, aligning your efforts with your business's long-term vision Remember, success lies not just in the daily grind but in the intentional choices you make to elevate your business towards its full potential

Hadi is a result-oriented executive coach and advisor passionate about helping organizations develop leadership teams that can deliver impactful business results while creating more engaging and positive work environments She is known for her empathetic leadership, her ability to unearth the root causes of complex challenges, and her dedication to engage, empower, and inspire optimal performance that drives organizational success

Before founding H.D. Impact Consulting, Hadi spent over 15 years in the banking industry as a senior finance leader where she led the implementation of major change initiatives, built high-performing teams, optimized business performance, and increased employee engagement

She leverages this expertise, a people-centric approach, coaching tools, strategies, and accredited assessments to help business leaders, their teams, and organizations reach their peak potential

To learn more about Hadi and her work visit or connect with her on LinkedIn

83- CanadianSME-March2024 KeyAdvice

In the swiftly changing landscape of digital media, James Jones, also known by his TikTok handle @notoriouscree, has emerged as a prominent Indigenous influencer and entrepreneur Originating from the Tall Cree First Nation near Edmonton, Alberta, Jones’ narrative is one of cultural resilience and a source of inspiration for Indigenous communities seeking to carve out a space in the digital ecosystem.

Amassing a following of over four million on TikTok, he infuses his content with an electrifying mix of hoop dancing, pow wow steps, and hip-hop, resonating a powerful connection to his Indigenous heritage His artistic expression has graced global stages, from the Winter Olympics to the Sydney Opera House, redefining Indigenous storytelling through movement and rhythm

At a TikTok Accelerator for Indigenous Creators event in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in November 2023, Jones joined a discussion highlighting the power of TikTok in breaking down traditional media barriers. He shared his early experiences with media misrepresentation following a pivotal victory in a breakdancing competition at 18.

84- CanadianSME-March2024

Reflecting on a past interview, Jones shared, “They focused more on my struggles rather than the achievement Instead of ‘Indigenous Break-dancer Triumphs in Contest,’ the story was angled as ‘From Gangs to Glory.’ That was a turning point for me in understanding the power of owning one ’ s narrative.”

This spurred his advocacy for Indigenous self-representation, to counteract the often one-dimensional stories portrayed by mainstream outlets

Jones observed a seismic shift with the rise of digital platforms like TikTok, where Indigenous creators began sharing their own diverse and multifaceted stories, sometimes reaching wider audiences than traditional news outlets. “It’s transformative when the stories are coming directly from the source, from those with lived experiences, rather than an external narrative,” he said.

Off-camera, Jones dedicates his energy to community initiatives, touring North America to engage with young people about self-identity, ambition, and living healthily through cultural practices.

His entrepreneurial spirit was recently honored with the Shopify Entrepreneurial Spirit Award at the Pow Wow Pitch 2023 Indigenous Entrepreneur Awards For Jones, entrepreneurship represents a pathway to autonomy and cultural expression

“To me, entrepreneurship is fundamentally about freedom the freedom to define your own journey, to express yourself on your own terms, and the joy of being fully invested in your life’s work,” Jones articulates

James Jones stands as more than an artist or businessperson; he’s a pivotal figure in the redefinition of Indigenous presence in digital spaces. His ascent from the Tall Cree First Nation to an international TikTok sensation embodies the essence of selfexpression and cultural integrity. As he continues to motivate and empower the youth, Jones symbolizes the enduring impact of storytelling in preserving Indigenous traditions and the liberating potential of entrepreneurship.

85- CanadianSME-March2024 IndigenousStorytelling

DiscoveryX Conference and Trade Show

DiscoveryX Conference and Trade Show is Ontario’s tech event of the year. Hosted by The Ontario Centre of Innovation (OCI), DiscoveryX brings together the province’s top innovators in an all-in-one showcase.

DiscoveryX is not just another conference, though It’s an immersive experience that allows you to see, touch, and feel the best tech and innovations that Ontario has to offer

Taking place April 17 and 18 at the Enercare Centre in Toronto, this will be the 15th year that OCI has hosted this event. OCI last hosted the event in 2019 when more than 3,000 people attended and more than 475 companies exhibited

After much demand, OCI brought back the event under a new name – DiscoveryX – and this year is set to be better than ever!

86- CanadianSME-March2024

For 2024, DiscoveryX will be headlined by the creator of Facebook Live, Randi Zuckerberg. An early Facebook employee, Zuckerberg has helped to shape social media as we know it today. You won’t want to miss the story of her journey on the front lines of Facebook and Silicon Valley to now being on the bleeding edge of AI.

See and hear from trailblazers in AI, Investing, CleanTech, Agritech, Advanced Manufacturing and Construction, Autonomous and Electric Vehicles, Life Sciences, MedTech, and more!

DiscoveryX is also proud to showcase prominent Canadian tech leaders like: John Ruffolo, Raquel Urtasun, Christian Weedbrook, Martin Basiri, and more.

Why attend DiscoveryX?

Gain insights from leaders across the industry

Network with top professionals and expand your connections

Secure your next business deal

Touch, feel, and experience groundbreaking technology

DiscoveryX 2024 is a catalyst for advancing Ontario’s innovation ecosystem and driving economic prosperity As the premier innovation event in Canada, it brings together entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, government, and industry leaders The DiscoveryX Conference and Trade Show is known for fostering networking, idea exchange, and the convergence of groundbreaking ideas. In this upcoming edition, attendees can expect an even more enriching experience, featuring prominent speakers, interactive workshops, and a showcase of the latest innovations and technologies.

DiscoveryX is where innovators, thought leaders, and visionaries come together to explore the latest breakthroughs, share gamechanging ideas, and build partnerships that propel innovation to dazzling new heights

“The DiscoveryX Conference and Trade Show has been a cornerstone of innovation in Ontario, and were thrilled to bring it back This event symbolizes our commitment to cultivating a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within our province,” said Claudia Krywiak, President and CEO of the Ontario Centre of Innovation

Buy Tickets/Learn More:
87- CanadianSME-March2024 TradeShow
APPLY NOW Entries for the awards are open now WWW.SMEAWARDS.CA #SMEAWARDS SMALLBUSINESS AWARDS2023 CELEBRATINGBUSINESS SUCCESSINCANADA Accounting SoftwarePartner ShippingPartner EmailPartner BankingPartner
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.