Women’s Enterprise Centre
As we recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day this month, I wanted to shine a spotlight on an organization that I think is doing great work supporting female entrepreneurs and business owners. The Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) was launched as a female-led, non-profit organization in BC back in 1995. Since then, WEC has helped power women-led businesses in a variety of ways and continues to offer support and mentoring to this day.
WEC’s programming includes offering loans for women-owned businesses in BC. Loans of up to $150,000 can be made available to entrepreneurs whether you are just starting out, purchasing a new business, or expanding your current business. The loans offered by WEC differ to those of traditional lenders primarily in that they are bundled with free, ongoing professional business advice, skills training, and mentoring. Female business owners may also find it easier to qualify for a business loan with WEC than traditional lenders.
For a limited time, WEC is also offering access to the Regional Relief & Recovery Fund (RRRF) which offers loans of up to $60,000 for eligible women-run businesses. This fund is to help small businesses cope with financial hardship and recovery from economic disruption resulting from COVID-19, and who may not be eligible for the federal government’s Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan.
Outside of loans, WEC works really hard to build a supportive community around women in business by providing a host of professional development opportunities. The Fernie Chamber of Commerce
has partnered with WEC several times in the past couple of years to bring our members some of their great webinars and workshops. We will continue to highlight these opportunities to our members as they come up. WEC has also conducted 66,000 business advisory sessions to date across the province.
WEC is currently making a dedicated push to expand their service delivery to more rural areas in BC outside of the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan Valley. Several local Fernie entrepreneurs have already made use of WEC’s mentoring and tools, and my understanding is there will be another intake for the WEC mentoring program locally this fall. For more information on WEC and their amazing work supporting women in business, please contact our local WEC Regional Ambassador for Fernie – Jill Barclay – by visiting wec.ca/jill