UNB News
News and stories from one of Canada’s top universities

Pond-Deshpande Centre helps launch network to empower women and non-binary entrepreneurs

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Oct 6, 2023

Category: UNB Saint John , UNB Fredericton

Photo: left to right, back to front: Gabriella Yapp, SVX; Filsan Farrah, Pillar Non-Profit; Tom Vargas, New Power Labs; Allison Gibson, Spring; Katie Davey, Pond-Deshpande Centre; Sagal Dualeh, Canadian Women's Foundation; Vanessa Paesani, Pond-Deshpande Centre; Melanie Rupp, WeBC; Helen Zhou, SVX.

The Pond-Deshpande Centre (PDC) at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) is one of a group of leading organizations across Canada that have launched WIN-VC Canada (Women and Nonbinary Impact Network for Venture Capital), an initiative to empower women and non-binary entrepreneurs and integrate a gender lens into the strategies of private investors.

“By supporting women and non-binary entrepreneurs to access capital, we are contributing to shifting an unequal economic system,” said Katie Davey, executive director of Pond-Deshpande Centre. “We look forward to working with investors to build a more inclusive and equitable capital landscape in our region.”

WIN-VC will serve women and non-binary entrepreneurs, including Indigenous, rural, BIPOC, newcomer, LGBTQ2+, Two-Spirit and women with disabilities. The network will also support investors of all genders interested in gender-lens investing, systems change and inclusivity, focusing on sectors including food, agriculture, real estate, cleantech and healthcare.

In this effort to build a more inclusive investment ecosystem, PDC launched WIN-VC with other like-minded organizations: Canadian Women’s Foundation, Esplanade Quebec, New Power Labs, Pillar Nonprofit Network, Pond Deshpande Centre, Spring Activator, SVX and WeBC.

These organizations have the experience, expertise, and resources to deliver top-tier programs for enterprises and investors, enhance sector knowledge, drive systemic change, and mobilize capital to advance gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

SVX received funding for the project through the Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative, one of the pillars of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a federal initiative that encompasses nearly $7 billion in investments and commitments that are helping thousands of women entrepreneurs start up, scale up and expand into new markets.

“Through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), we are helping women from coast to coast to coast build and grow inclusive businesses that are as diverse as Canada is,” said Rechie Valdez, Minister of Small Business, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

“[It] will help women and non-binary entrepreneurs access venture capital funding and drive their economic empowerment across the country.”

The network will offer multi-regional and regional entrepreneur accelerator programs alongside regional and multi-regional investor education programs. WIN-VC’s programming will be designed to prioritize equity-deserving groups and provide support to a range of entities in accessing capital.

It will also provide education services to empower investors, particularly those in the angel and venture capital realms, with practical knowledge pertaining to equity, diversity and inclusion.

The network’s entrepreneur programming will boost investment readiness amongst women and non-binary entrepreneurs through one-on-one advisory support, coaching and peer-to-peer learning.

The skills and knowledge acquired through WIN-VC’s programs, coupled with improved access to capital, will create sustainability and increased participation in entrepreneurship and the Canadian economy. This will generate greater participation of women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses in the Canadian entrepreneurial landscape.

Learn more and apply. If you know someone who might be interested in participating, please nominate them by emailing PDC at innovate@unb.ca.

If you'd like to keep up to date with the social innovation ecosystem in N.B., sign up for the PDC's newsletter.