Women entrepreneurs in Sask. receive $4.6 million in funding through federal government grant

A new grant opportunity from the federal government is set to give women entrepreneurs a boost.

Named the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, the government will be investing $2 billion into women-owned or led businesses across the country.

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Ralph Goodale was part of the presentation Thursday morning from Hillberg and Berk’s head office in Regina on behalf of Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion Mary Ng.

$4,648,377 has been put aside for women entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan which will be spread out among 11 successful applicants from around the province who will receive up to $100,000 through the fund.

  • Prairie Berries Inc. – Keller, SK
  • Hillberg and Berk Accessories Inc. – Regina, SK
  • Splendor Garden – Watson, SK
  • Clevor Technologies Inc. (Brillist) – Saskatoon, SK
  • Destination Leadership Inc. – Regina, SK
  • Grandpa’s Garden Ltd. (Prairie Bee Meadery) – Caron/Moose Jaw, SK
  • Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds Ltd. – Parkside, SK
  • Prairie Sun Pub and Brewery Inc. – Saskatoon, SK
  • Road Coffee Co. – Saskatoon, SK
  • S & E Trusted Online Directories Inc. – Saskatoon, SK
  • Three Farmers Foods Inc. – Saskatoon, SK

One of the 11 recipients is owner of Prairie Bee Meadery Crystal Milburn who said they plan to use the $100,000 they’re receiving from the grant to buy new equipment to begin a new line of sparkling wine.

She’s very excited about the opportunity this will give for women in the province.

“I think it’s a wonderful place for the government to be focusing not just on women but Canada as a whole,” explained Milburn. “We heard a lot of numbers today about the room that we have to grow as women and as leaders in the economy.”

The Saskatchewan enterprises selected for the grant will be using the money to either help grow their business, bring in new products or promote their products and services provincially, nationally and internationally.

Milburn agreed that this move by the government is a step forward to bringing in more female representation in the business sector.

While she believes this new opportunity will help encourage women to become leaders in the economy and beyond, there’s still room to grow.

“I’ve seen a huge change over my lifetime in the leadership roles that are being filled by women,” said Milburn. “We’d like to see it go faster, but it has to be an organic change – we recognize that.”

Regina-Wascana MP Ralph Goodale asks questions to CEO and Founder of Hillberg and Burk Rachel Mielke (middle) and CEO of Women Entrepreneurship of Saskatchewan Prabha Mitchell (right) during a short panel session on Thursday morning. (Photo: Moises Canales/620 CKRM)

CEO and founder of Hillberg and Berk Rachel Mielke had a chance to share her views on the new strategy to guests and the media during the event. She also served as a panelist with CEO of Women Entrepreneurship of Saskatchewan (WESK) Prabha Mitchell.

Her company has also secured $100,000 in fund money to aid in broadening their brand to the U.S. market.

Mielke believes this move by the feds is incredibly important to have an emphasis on women in business.

“There’s still a lot of challenges women entrepreneurs face when scaling up, but I think this really helps overcome some of the challenges that women face.”

Three organizations, which assist women entrepreneurs in the province, have also been awarded financial support through the Women Entrepreneurship of Saskatchewan’s Ecosystem Fund.

  • Saskatchewan Food Industry Development Centre Inc. – receiving $1 million to provide support to business women in the food processing sector.
  • Saskatoon Open Door Society Inc. – receiving $999,219 to establish a business incubator for recent immigrant women in business.
  • Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan Inc. – receiving $1.5 million to set a new program which helps grow women-led businesses.

The government has set a goal of doubling the number of women-owned businesses by 2025 from this strategy.

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