Canada invests over $1 million in Hamilton women entrepreneurs

Quick escape link leading to Weather Network websiteQuick Escape Women's Entrepreneurship Program graduates 2018

Budding local women entrepreneurs are richer today, thanks to a contribution from the federal government for YWCA Hamilton’s Women’s Entrepreneurship program.


CEO Denise Christopherson was in Toronto, this morning, as the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, announced a $19 million investment in women entrepreneurs and organizations supporting women entrepreneurs in Ontario. The funding is part of the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a $2-billion investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.


Through the WES Ecosystem Fund, YWCA Hamilton will receive $1,015,641 to expand our current Women’s Entrepreneurship Program that provides training, mentorship, networking and additional supports to women who are seeking to start or expand their business. The program will continue to serve women of diverse backgrounds who may experience barriers to access training resources due to income or level of education. The program will also support women from newcomer communities and offer at least one cohort of training in French speaking participants.


“We’ve been running entrepreneurial programs for over 20 years and this multi-year investment is going to show so many benefits, not only for the women who are going to advance their own businesses, but for their families and for the entire Hamilton community,” says Christopherson. “This funding allows us to provide opportunities to women to bolster their skills, address challenges and ultimately help them succeed.”


The Honourable Mary Ng and Denise Christopherson at funding announcement, August 22, 2019.

Graduates of YWCA Hamilton’s entrepreneurial programs have gone on to build businesses that have helped boost the Hamilton economy. Selbina Mwendwa started Canadian African Arts and Décor, which imports one-of-a-kind items from Kenya, with a mere $2,000. Today she not only sells her imported wares in 42 shops across Canada, including Wayfair, but her business also supports 350 women artisans in Kenya.


Candace Gagne found the mentoring and business tools she needed to embark on a path to business ownership and financial independence through the Women’s Entrepreneurship Program. A survivor of violence, her ultimate goal is to support other survivors through her obstacle course-based gym.


And Josie Rudderham attended a YWCA Hamilton entrepreneurial program a decade ago. Since then she and her business partner have grown their bakery and confectionary, Cake and Loaf, into a sustainable business that employs 28 people at two Hamilton locations.


To learn more about our programs serving women in Hamilton, please visit:


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