Women’s Entrepreneur Round Table Summary

In November, the Tusts’weye project invited women from around the Shuswap to gather and share their entrepreneurial experiences and network with other female business owners in the community.  The three evening sessions started off with inspirational keynotes from Kathleen Seeley and Nicole McLaren, two successful entrepreneurs who encouraged women to face and embrace the challenges and opportunities of owning their own businesses.  Attendees spent most of the evening at round tables discussing the challenges and opportunities specifically facing businesswomen of the Shuswap.



  • 75 women participated in three sessions
  • November 18, 19, 20, 2019
  • Sicamous, Quaaout and Salmon Arm

Key Challenges identified:

  • Personal health and wellness: work-life balance; Confidence to launch into or grow a business; Male/female gender behaviour issues.
  • Basic business skills:  Business plan development; Marketing skills and resources; Human resource management; Funding and finance.
  • Social media marketing:  Social media marketing was a key business skill gap that emerged as a strong theme on its own.

Key Opportunities identified:

  • Training and Education:  Seminar and speaker series; Webinars and other live-streamed broadcasts; Launch-a-preneur program.
  • Networking and social learning:  Mastermind and mentorship groups; Networking, sharing, learning and celebrating events; Virtual networking supports.
  • Resource development:  Online database of resources for women entrepreneurs; Entrepreneur, innovation, leadership centre/hub; Infrastructure and social services support.

Networking Opportunities identified:

  • Physical, face-to-face opportunities to meet and share:  Speaker series (TED-type talks, Keynote speaker series); Mini-conferences; Business to business, rotating event series cohosted by different communities in Shuswap.
  • Social media/web based opportunities:  Virtual networking centre (who does what where, and who needs what where, in the community); Matching and referral services (act as the connection); More virtual connection opportunities to address remoteness.

Word Occurrences Ranked by Frequency

1 share/sharing 10 events
2 networking 11 financial/funding
3 support 12 resources
4 opportunities 13 child care
5 people 14 marketing
6 community 15 training
7 social media 16 education
8 time 17 transportation
9 group 18 confidence

Observations and Conclusions:

  • There is a good foundation for women’s entrepreneurship in the Shuswap as evidenced by frequent mentions of Launch-a-preneur.ca, Community Futures and other economic development services. What is needed is better access to external programs and services, and more local programming, which can deal with the wide variety of challenges and opportunities facing women in business today.
  • There are two primary and counteracting forces affecting women’s entrepreneurship in the Shuswap. On the one hand is the intense desire to connect, share and learn from other businesswomen in the region (and beyond) while on the other are numerous barriers to achieving this through face-to-face interactions. Among these are challenges associated with time management, household and personal care, childcare, transportation availability and the like. Another prominent issue was gender inequality, in short having to deal with, manage and overcome perceptions and attitudes that women do not measure up to men as entrepreneurs.
  • The mainly rural setting of the Shuswap has a profound influence on the way women perceive and choose to engage in (or not) entrepreneurship initiatives. What may work in an urban environment may have little success in the Shuswap unless issues of accessibility can be addressed.
  • Virtual networking through social media and other online clients has considerable appeal for local businesswomen. This is an obvious way to overcome the barriers to hosting in-person interaction.
  • There are many online resources for help with entrepreneurship, business planning, training and education, financial planning, marketing and other similar functional areas of business, but many of the workshop participants were unaware or unable to access them. There is a need for a local “go to” online clearinghouse that provides a well designed, logically structured, easy-to-navigate and searchable web-resource that pulls all this together in way that provides true value to local businesswomen. A local resource based on the She Hustle Collective might work in the Shuswap.
  • Opportunities for training and education on almost any business development topic would seem to be in high demand. Topic areas such as business basics, social media, marketing and finance arose time and again in all three workshops. While a certain amount of self-help resources can be helpful, they are not always an adequate substitute for instruction and engagement with peers.
  • Mentoring was another frequently mentioned topic area. There are many successful businesswomen in the Shuswap who would be willing to participate in a mentoring service, provided it was structured around a clear vision of intent, delivery and outcomes.
  • Access to capital, though major challenge for entrepreneurs in general, is particularly difficult for women. Organizations like Farm Credit Canada, Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada all have programming targeted at women.


Thank you!

  • Steve Nicol, Lions Gate Consulting, for facilitating the sessions, and recording and summarizing the results into a format we could use and make sense of.
  • To our sponsors:  Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union and Interior Savings and Credit Union.
  • To our keynote speakers:  Kathleen Seeley and Nicole McLaren
  • Renee Narcisse, Secwepemc drummer, who ended our evenings thoughtfully and respectfully.
  • To the Tsuts’weye team who brought the details together.
  • To the numerous women (and one man!) who volunteered to support the Women’s Entrepreneur Round Tables, as hosts, table recorders, photographer and on-site crew.