Ana Stevens Pepper North Booth

Ana Stevens

Pepper North Artisan Foods
Oshawa, Ontario

My company, Pepper North Artisan Foods, is in its sixth year of business, and is growing rapidly. Although this is all very exciting, there are significant obstacles that you encounter when scaling your business for national distribution and building brand awareness. The need for capital to fund large purchase orders and pay for ingredients and services ahead of time is challenging. One of the pillars of The Scotiabank Womens Initiative is to provide capital to women-led businesses to get them to the next level of growth. With the help of my Scotiabank business consultant, I got the funding I needed to fill large purchase orders.

As we continue to grow and increase our market share within the grocery space, staying true to our core values is of the utmost importance: for example, ensuring that every hot sauce that is hand bottled comes from locally-sourced ingredients. Our peppers are 100% grown in Ontario by our farmer/partner, and supporting communities to grow with us has been an instrumental part of our company vision. While having goals like these are great, making sure we have the funds in place to execute our growth is key. Not only that, but I am a strong believer that continuous learning is so important, as there are always new ways to increase efficiencies. The second and third pillars of the program is to offer ongoing education and mentorship, which is a huge asset across all industries. Having the opportunity to meet other women entrepreneurs and empowering one another brings a tremendous value in itself.  I am looking forward to participating in workshops that will be taking place all over, and that more and more women are experiencing a high level of success while having Scotiabank as a supporter.

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Helen Milic

Bayview Sheppard RMT
Toronto, Ontario

What an inspiring initiative! Things have come a long way! My business partner and I went to our bank over thirteen years ago with a business plan and a dream of opening our own clinic. 

Sadly, our bank representative did not even look at our plan, she threw it back at us and said, “We don’t know you or what you’re capable of, we would never lend you money”.... 

Like most women, the rejection and lack of support became our driving force to prove this woman and many other doubters wrong. 

It has been over thirteen years, we have grown every year as a business and entrepreneurs, we had to do it the hard way

Thank you Scotiabank for offering this opportunity to women. We wish our fellow entrepreneurs much success!

Helen Milic, RMT
Co-Owner Bayview Sheppard RMT

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Pina Romolo

Piccola Cucina Inc
Winnipeg, MB

Pina, have you ever faced a dead end?  Any opportunities that showed promise at first but then went nowhere?  How did you overcome this?

Absolutely, I have faced dead ends, however, if you don’t try, sometimes you never know.  I use these dead ends or set backs as opportunities to evaluate what I’ve learned.  Nothing by accident, and sometimes these dead ends provide forums for teaching - a set up for a future big win.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

If you are doing something you believe in, then continue to persevere and push forward. Do seek external validation for your business and surround yourself with mentors and advisers that can lift you up and understand your vision and can relay it back to you when you go astray. 

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Leisa Hirtz

Women’s Global Health Innovations Corp
Toronto, ON

Less than a fifth of businesses in Canada are owned by Women.  Leisa, how can we inspire more?

It will take very conscious, concerted and women-focused programs like The Scotiabank Women Initiative for us to see more women running their own businesses. I believe Canadian society is heading in a progressive direction.

With programs like this, more women will be inspired to become entrepreneurs. Women learning that they will be the catalyst needed to advance the national economy and drive progressive societal change is an inspiring incentive.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative is positioned to deliver the support more women need to guide them in starting and growing their business

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

The advice I would give is to clearly define the ‘why’ of your company, then start telling that ‘why’ as you grow your network. I advise growing your network early to build your web of supporters beyond your family and friends.

Listening is key. Listen a lot. Listen to learn and there is so much to learn. This is not something to be daunted by but to engage your curiosity. It’s easy to become overwhelmed but pace yourself and right from the start build a relationship with your small business advisor at your bank. He or she is there to offer valuable information, guidance, and strategy.  I would advise learning about The Scotiabank Women Initiative. The tools, advice, and opportunities to participate, learn and network through this initiative is creating a groundswell of positive change for Canadian women in business.

I believe it is the best time ever to be a woman entrepreneur in this country, and with endeavors like The Scotiabank Women Initiative, things are on a trajectory to get even better.

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Karen Rudolph

Cloverdale Forge
Winnipeg, MB

Winnipeg Boot Camp in January 2020 - Today was excellent! Thank you for the invitation to join the event at Manitoba Start. I pulled nuggets of ‘awesomeness’ from each of the speakers and was inspired hearing from the women entrepreneurs excelling at their businesses! 

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Maya Khanna Le Roy

MKLC
Toronto, ON

Last year was an incredibly challenging year for entrepreneurs and female entrepreneurs specifically—and this one is shaping up to be no different. In my practice coaching and facilitating as the founder of MKLC, I see the behind the scenes of these struggles and challenges. I see the burdens that women face at work and at home, magnified by a year in which so many of us have struggled to stay positive in the face of impossible demands and difficult decisions. 

This is why The Scotiabank Women Initiative is incredibly important. It gives voice and visibility to the challenges women face and then follows through by offering support and creating connection for an often tough but worthwhile journey.

I've been lucky to attend several Scotia Women Initiative events — two as an attendee and one as a speaker (my talk, called Proactive Strategies for a Reactive World: How to Design Your Time, delved into strategies to help get the meaningful work done, and show up at our best).

Each time, I’ve felt lifted and inspired by the dynamic and engaged group of women that the Scotia team gathers. I’ve connected with several of the other women and love the camaraderie that this experience has built.

There will always be challenges when we climb tall mountains. Having support and advice makes it just that little bit easier to keep going and make progress towards our aspirations.

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Andreea Crisan

Andy Transport
Saint-Laurent, Québec

A privately women-owned company founded in 2001, Andy Transport operates a fleet of over 400 trucks and 800 trailers in North America. In 2020, it was the 8th largest fleet in Quebec and 40th in Canada. The company was ranked in the GROWTH 500 list of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies from 2014 to 2019.

I have attended several events with The Scotiabank Women Initiative along the years and I have always enjoyed the “intimate” events, the quality of the speakers and the networking opportunities. Scotiabank is not just a bank - by being consistent with these types of events, it shows their commitment and the care that they put into the organization. I will gladly continue to be a part of this program and I encourage every woman out there to join this wonderful community.

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Leah Izenber & Dr. Dahlia Fisher

The Red Oak Centre Inc.
Toronto, ON

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?

Being a women entrepreneur is hard and exhausting but it is entirely possible and completely rewarding.  Work alongside people that share your vision and your work ethic. Enlist help and expertise as you need it.  Hold your vision and trust your process.

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Natalie Kehren

The Wellness & Holistic World
Toronto, ON

This initiative is unlike anything I’ve been a part of.  It feels amazing to finally feel the empowerment from banks as a female entrepreneur.

Helen Milic at Bayview Sheppard Practice

Lucy Reveco

L.A. Dance Academy
Winnipeg, MB

Over 30 years ago, I started a small community children's dance program in the heart of the North End in Winnipeg. The dance program grew rapidly over the next 13 years, and since it was always my dream to have my own dance studio, I finally decided it was time. I went to Scotiabank 18 years ago with my 50-page business plan and presented my ideas for my new business proposal. I was approved, and I finally started my new venture!

Covid-19 was a very challenging time for our studio and dancers. We had to act fast, keep positive and introduce new ways to keep the business running. We offered our dance families online classes via zoom and managed to end our dance season by completing a recital outdoors for the first time ever at Rainbow Stage. Over the fall, our numbers had dropped due to the ongoing pandemic and uncertainty of the safety of Covid-19. It was then that I was offered from Scotiabank choices of Business loans and directed to grants. Without this financial support and community support, we would not have been able to continue our year.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative is an amazing program that provides continued resources, access to capital and education for women entrepreneurs and business leaders.  I would recommend everyone to utilize all the recourse available to ensure they stay connected in the business community.

My advice for other women entrepreneurs is never to give up when you are faced with challenges. Use your passion and determination that started your business and seek professional business advice when you need extra support.

Kathy Leskow

Confetti Sweets
Edmonton, AB 

I’m Kathy Leskow, founder of Confetti Sweets, and we make totally awesome cookies.  I was a stay at home mom with big ambitions and a sweet tooth.  I loved to bake, so I ran with my passion and opened a cookie booth at the local farmers market.  Could I make a business of just selling cookies?  Absolutely!

Twelve years later we sell through our storefront location and online, as well as the food service sector, grocery stores, and a variety of specialty stores across Alberta.

The hardest part was taking the leap from a hobby job to a business with debt, that would eventually be my only source of income to support my family.  Thankfully my Scotiabank business advisor was really my coach and cheerleader, and she spent the time getting to know me personally as well as my business.  She was by my side every time I had a growth opportunity (usually needing another loan).  

The Scotia Women Initiative has also been a wonderful resource.  From advice on digital marketing to cash flow, there always something to improve on.  I am currently working through the 20 tips to improve your LinkedIn network.  It’s something I know is important, but now I have an implementation checklist to follow.  Also, our local SWI Bootcamps have been fantastic.  I walk away feeling motivated and inspired, both personally and professionally.  The fact that they focus on the whole person is a breath of fresh air.  

There’s growth and then there's profitable growth.

To those looking in, it looked as if my business was growing rapidly, as we were doubling sales year over year.  However, in the early years, I was so focused on revenue, I lost track of the bottom line.   For example, when we launched in our first grocery chain, it included a guaranteed sale agreement where we would buy back any inventory that didn’t sell.  With a short shelf life product such as cookies, that was a horrible business decision!  Thankfully we were able to bounce back and to pivot quickly.

I can honestly say that the hard work, long hours, and sleepless nights were worth it.  Being an entrepreneur, leading an amazing team, and working for yourself is extremely rewarding.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

Anka Chan and Nicole Sanchez

Ruth
Edmonton, AB 

Ruth is revolutionizing sustainable period care with the first biodegradable pads in Canada made from kenaf fibre. At Ruth, we’re solving the issue of menstrual waste.

Unlike traditional menstrual pads — most of which are made from 90% plastic and can take up to 800 years to degrade, Ruth pads are made from 93% bio-based and renewable materials including kenaf fibre, bamboo fibre, cellulose, and starch-based bioplastic.

We’re also passionate about fighting against period poverty. In a national effort to eliminate period poverty, we have partnered to donate our sustainable menstrual pads to seven organizations and shelters across Canada. Ruth makes sustainable periods easy and accessible.

As young founders, being supported by Scotiabank is meaningful for our new company. We really appreciate programs like The Scotiabank Women Initiative that work to reduce barriers women founders experience, in gaining access to the right mentorship and capital.

Lisa Grogan

Overlap Associates Inc.
Waterloo, ON

Overlap is a design consultancy that puts people at the centre of our work and your solutions. Overlap works with organizations of all sizes on problems that matter most to them. Design thinking is an approach where observation and evidence inform decisions, checks assumptions and delivers value—all grounded in a human perspective. Our clients work in healthcare, education, insurance, non-profits, energy, mining and cities. The common thread between our clients is their desire to do something different, to achieve a better result. We help you get to your better.

As a Certified Women Owned Business, we are grateful to The Scotiabank Women Initiative for continuing to support women in business and increase visibility of women in business spaces. As a passionate advocate for female entrepreneurship, Overlap Associates shares The Scotiabank Women Initiative vision of creating accessible education and mentorship opportunities for future female leaders. Attending their events and being a part of the larger community of women in business leadership positions has facilitated invaluable connection and opportunities for growth. We hope to promote the certification of more Women-Owned businesses in the Kitchener-Waterloo areas in the coming years. 

Christina Stender 

Eh Farms
Wheatland County, AB

We are a small family farm that raises the Red Mangalitsa pig; a heritage breed that is the last in existence to sport a woolly coat. Originally from Hungary, it is known for being the “kobe” beef of pork and is revered in the culinary world. I was the first to import the Red Mangalitsa into Canada in 2016 and, since then, have gone from strength to strength, supplying this wonderful pork to the local community and high-end restaurants.

I appreciated the opportunity to be a part of this fantastic initiative and since I’ve joined, I have met many like-minded women and formed long-lasting friendships. The support and empowerment I felt from the initiative has given me the drive to continue to succeed. It was my dream to own a farm and I hope to be a trailblazer for women in agriculture.

Shirin Rayani 

Grey Matter Montessori
Calgary, AB

Grey Matter Montessori is an educational center designed to provide an exclusive and comprehensive Montessori and International Preschool Curriculum (IPC) program for children aged 3-6. Our mission is to foster an environment of growth and well-rounded development, where all students feel engaged and valued. The preschool offers unique programming such as yoga, dance, gymnastics, and martial arts at no extra cost, adding value to the already enriched Montessori and IPC curriculum. In addition, they have built trusted partnerships with members of the Evanston Community to optimize student learning during one of the most critical times of development.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative has been extremely beneficial in providing us the support we need as a small business. From capital to educational opportunities and resources, this initiative has helped bring us to where we are today. This initiative has also provided many opportunities to connect and learn from many talented and impressive women in business.

Maureen Wright and Johanne Lewis

MoJo Design
Edmonton, AB

MoJo Design is a full-service interior design and renovation firm created by two amazingly talented local designers and businesswomen, Maureen Wright (Mo) and Johanne Lewis (Jo). In early 2010, Maureen and Johanne decided to merge their wealth of experience and started MoJo Design Inc. Maureen and Johanne are passionate in delivering exceptional spaces for all clients ranging from high-end residential to out of the box commercial projects. At the end of 2020, they launched a new division – Age In Place Canada. This initiative aims to keep people living in their homes longer, more comfortably and with more independence. Their vision and purpose are to build lasting relationships with their clients. Trust and integrity lie at the core of their beliefs, and it is important that their clients enjoy the environment created for them.

MoJo Design has followed Arlene Dickinson for many years and were excited to be able to attend a talk she gave. Arlene is from the same demographic as us, so we were able to relate to and gain inspiration from her many posts. More recently the podcasts, videos and articles on The Scotiabank Women Initiative site are always informative!

Luisa Hough 

Xeva Mortgages
Surrey, BC

I am Luisa Hough, Mortgage Professional and part Owner of Xeva Mortgage. I have been a Mortgage Professional for over 17 years. The toughest decision I ever made was for me to leave a secure employer at a wonderful law firm to go out on my own as a 100% commissioned Professional. I also had a 1‐year‐old daughter which also made my decision very scary. It was a leap of faith that became the best decision for me and my family. Scotiabank was wonderful to deal with. They believed in me and gave me the chance I needed to get the resources I wanted to start my business.  They provided me with the necessary products, help and advice to help me get to where I am today. Not all banks are like Scotiabank.  

I remember going to my first Scotiabank Women Initiative event and was amazed at the amount of businesswomen who were willing to share their stories, successes, and resources. I was able to take away so much from them and apply it to my own business. Thank you, Scotiabank, for this great initiative which helps us as woman with the empowerment we need as female entrepreneurs. 

Margaux Miller

Start Canada Podcast
Winnipeg, MB

Start Canada Podcast features interviews with start-up founders, innovators, and thought leaders from the heart of Canada who are challenging the status quo, scaling their business, and bringing new ideas to life! Interview style episodes focus on the tough questions about their journey and detail the ways of thinking that have led these Canadian founders to success. Tune in with host Margaux Miller to learn exactly how they did it – and get some great tips so you can too. We cover topics including: Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Mental Health, Funding, and more. Episodes of Start Canada can be found on all your favorite podcast platforms! Subscribe now on iTunes or on Spotify.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative team believed in me and what we were creating. They saw the importance in showcasing women in business and Canadian founders. Andrea, the National Director & Program Lead understood the vision of what we were hoping to achieve and celebrate with the show. And celebrate we did! With Scotiabank’s support, we were able to change Season 3 of Start Canada Podcast into a vodcast. On top of the podcast, the video episodes of the show yielded thousands of YouTube viewers and countless more when we secured a long-running place on Shaw TV! It was such a pleasure partnering with The Scotiabank Women Initiative team and knowing they were behind us, our show and the leaders we interview.   

Molly Shannon

Canadian Succulents
Pickering, ON

Canadian Succulents was founded out of a love for succulents and a belief that a gift should be beautiful, long lasting, and green. We are located in a small greenhouse just outside of Toronto, Ontario, where we grow the succulents that make up our living creations. We use these drought-tolerant plants to design easy-to-care-for and eco-friendly arrangements for centrepieces, wedding, party favours and much more.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative has given aligned mentorship and direction on scaling for our small business. The program's dedicated team and thought-provoking events and conversations have allowed us to connect with like-minded start-ups and small businesses. As a result, we are inspired to think bigger, and we feel more confident taking the calculated risks necessary to continue on our growth trajectory.

Yvonne Okhiria

Yvonne’s Delightful Cakes
Calgary, AB

At Yvonne’s Delightful Cakes, we are passionate about cake making. Our custom cakes, cupcakes and various treats are baked and made using only fresh ingredients and are made to the highest quality. We are passionate about capturing our client’s vision for their custom orders/design while ensuring they also get the tastiest cake ever. Our cupcake line provides a good sampling of some of our flavours and our clients tell us it is a bit addictive!

Members of my team & I have attended some very informative sessions and events put on by The Scotiabank Women Initiative. I was empowered and encouraged by the program. It feels good to know that you are not alone in this journey. Watching other women grow their dream ideas is a very powerful catalyst. The encouragement and support from the team at Scotiabank has made a world of difference for us as we develop, learn and grow our business. Thank you, Scotiabank, for journeying with us and taking the initiative (pun intended)!

Julia Slanina

Treehouse Medical
Kanata, ON

Treehouse Medical is a care management software & virtual community that allows allied healthcare providers to build their businesses, grow their network, and connect with new & existing clients in a secure space.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative has allowed me to grow my network and connect with like-minded entrepreneurs. This was extremely beneficial especially during a pandemic when all in-person events had been cancelled. I was able to build brand awareness among the business community and expand the team’s knowledge with the resources that were provided.

Anna Yu

Yu Consulting Group
Toronto, ON

Anna Yu is the Founder and President of Yu Consulting Group (YCG). Anna provides management consulting and advisory services to companies and business leaders at all stages of growth. She transforms visions to reality with a holistic approach and focuses on Strategy, People and Results. Anna brings her big business knowledge and experience from her corporate career as a trusted transformational leader, where she guided companies and business leaders through the challenges of change and growth – alongside facilitating people, processes, and systems to common goals. She helps businesses and leaders develop and achieve strategies for revenue and profit growth with practical tools. YCG offers a menu of proven best practices and practical solutions to business owners and companies, which translate to actionable and measurable outcomes for businesses and their teams to drive positive business results.

Having spent my corporate career at Fortune 500 companies including The Bank of Nova Scotia, CIT Group, Dell Financial Services and Xerox, and now in my own business, I understand the importance of having a strong program such as The Scotiabank Women Initiative program towards the development of future women leaders. My work in coaching female entrepreneurs & women in business surfaces the continued need to support them in their advancement. The Scotiabank Women Initiative provides a framework of resources, peer-to-peer networking opportunities, access to mentors and resources in a safe environment towards a strong foundation of diversity and inclusiveness. I was fortunate to have the support of programs like this one during my career and am honoured to be a part of this great community in helping others.

Chandra L. Murphy

PMG Spiritwear
Lawrencetown, NS

We are a custom apparel and promotions company, operating out of Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia. Run by family, for families.  We customize clothing and accessories to reflect who you are, what you are doing, and how you feel at any given time.  Our custom products are perfect for any occasion.  So go ahead, be daring, be different, be original, be you and we will be here to help.

I love that The Scotiabank Women Initiative has given me access to valuable resources, to help me grow my business.  I look forward to events coming up in the future.

Suzanne Siemens

Aisle International
Vancouver, BC 

Aisle is an award-winning social impact business that makes the most comfortable and high-performing reusable period care products in the world, including period underwear, cloth menstrual pads and menstrual cups. As trusted period innovators for decades, we have redefined the Period Aisle - a welcome place to find sustainable and ethically made period care products for anyone who menstruates.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative program provided much needed growth capital to our business during COVID-19, which allowed us to weather the challenges and helped us and grow. The team at Scotiabank is exceptionally helpful and proactive.

Rebekah Cluett-Chan

Aberdeen Engagement Solutions Ltd.
Dartmouth, NS

Rebekah Cluett-Chan is the Founder and Principle of Aberdeen Engagement Solutions Ltd. Through Engagement Solutions Ltd. Rebekah brings 28 years of experience to her clients specializing in effective stakeholder and community engagement, meaningful Indigenous engagement, policy development, environmental regulatory compliance, and strategic planning. Rebekah is experienced working at the grass roots community level and the corporate boardroom. She has worked in the space transportation, clean energy, power utility, offshore oil and gas, transportation, natural gas, automotive, and locomotive sectors across Canada and internationally. 

As a new business owner, The Scotiabank Women Initiative connects me with like-minded business owners and leaders. It is inspiring to be part of a program and a bank that is focusing on and investing in women-led businesses. The programs’ extensive resources are suited to diverse businesses at various stages of growth. I am excited to be part of a program that supports female business founders at all stages of their careers, understands the importance of mentorship and creating access to capital. I am looking forward to meeting other members of the Initiative.  

You're in good company

You’ve committed to making your business succeed — and you’re not alone.

Get inspired by like-minded business women here!

A model of self-confidence and social impact: conversation with Dorothy Rhau.

Rebekah Cluett-Chan 


Aberdeen Engagement Solutions Ltd.
Dartmouth, NS

Suzanne Siemens 


Aisle International
Vancouver, BC 

Chandra L. Murphy 


PMG Spiritwear
Lawrencetown, NS

Anna Yu 


Yu Consulting Group
Toronto, ON

Julia Slanina 


Treehouse Medical
Kanata, ON

Yvonne Okhiria 


Yvonne’s Delightful Cakes
Calgary, AB

Molly Shannon


Canadian Succulents
Pickering, ON

Margaux Miller


Start Canada Podcast
Winnipeg, MB

Luisa Hough


Xeva Mortgages
Surrey, BC

Maureen Wright and Johanne Lewis


MoJo Design
Edmonton, AB

Shirin Rayani 


Grey Matter Montessori
Calgary, AB

Christina Stender 


Eh Farms
Wheatland County, AB

Lisa Grogan


Overlap Associates Inc.
Waterloo, ON

Anka Chan and Nicole Sanchez


Ruth
Edmonton, AB

Kathy Leskow


Confetti Sweets
Edmonton, AB 

Lucy Reveco


L.A. Dance Academy
Winnipeg, MB

Maya Khanna Le Roy

MKLC
Toronto, ON

Andreea Crisan 

Andy Transport
Saint-Laurent, Québec

Leah Izenber & Dr. Dahlia Fisher

The Red Oak Centre Inc.
Toronto, ON

Natalie Kehren

The Wellness & Holistic World
Toronto, ON

Fostering Future Black Women Leaders in Technology

Ranchelle VanBryce

Stiletto Enterprises Inc.
Red Deer, AB

Pina Romolo

Piccola Cucina Inc.
Winnipeg, MB

Ana Stevens

Pepper North Artisan Foods
Oshawa, Ontario

Helen Milic

Bayview Sheppard RMT
Toronto, Ontario

Karen Rudolph

 

Cloverdale Forge
Winnipeg, MB

Leisa Hirtz

Women’s Global Health Innovations Corp
Toronto, ON