The Scotiabank Women Initiative

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For female business leaders, human resources and finances are two areas she can focus on to pivot and find resilience in managing the business during COVID-19. Mary Morassuti, Founder of H.U.B. Inc. talks with Naomi Shaw and Sloane Muldoon from The Scotiabank Women Initiative Advisory Board about the value of human capital as well as financial capital.  Below is an extraction of the conversation.

One of the ways that we can be resilient as entrepreneurs is to be resourceful and access support; what sort of programs or relief measures can women entrepreneurs’ access and where can they find them?

Relief measures have been a big topic of discussion during COVID. Aside from the government programs that are available, there are a number of programs available from Scotiabank, for both small businesses and commercial businesses, as well as on the personal front. If you have not already spoken with your advisor or had a conversation and/or a virtual meeting, perhaps that would be the best next step. Having a real discussion about your own situation relative to your business and your own personal finances would be the best way to get the adequate advice for what relief measures you are eligible for and which ones you might want to look into.

What are we hearing from female entrepreneurs regarding wanting more information about relief measure and how they can access the information?

Sloane Muldoon, Senior Vice President, Prairie Region, Canadian Branch Banking noted that on March 16th, a Scotiabank client called her to say she was very concerned around her ability to operate her business and Sloane could hear the emotional weight in her voice. The client was transitioned to an advisor who was able to walk through the measures that were available. Talking to another woman helped her take some of the strong emotion out of the decisions she was trying to make, sound financial decisions. In the video, Sloane also discusses how to increase revenue and how we can gain access to additional capital. At this time, small and medium size businesses will need more capital but before they can ride to the next level, so they need to figure out how they can increase that capital.

In a recent survey of about 1,000 small business entrepreneurs in Canada, we found that female entrepreneurs are less apt to apply for credit versus their male entrepreneurs who are more apt to apply for credit. We also learned female entrepreneurs are more apt to be approved for credit versus her male counterpart, which speaks to the level of risk that a female entrepreneur may not want to take, relative to taking on debts and additional capital. A female entrepreneur wants to tick all of the boxes, she wants to ensure that her financial knowledge is very strong, financial acumen is very sound and that she has covered all the bases of her business plan to make sure that she is a good candidate, for not only obtaining capital but to have increased confidence in repaying the capital. It’s critical that we recognize where we need additional knowledge, financially, where we want to raise our acumen, and therein lies the opportunity to rise the confidence of a female entrepreneur to be able to start her business, grow her business and expand her business, when capital is required.

How do we learn how to crunch the numbers and be able to budget for success?

  1. Everybody needs a plan, whether it’s pre-Covid, during Covid or post-Covid. This is to ensure that as market conditions change and we go through potential downturns, that there is a plan in place. Some things relative to the plan that would raise as questions about if your bricks and mortar closes, how will you generate additional revenue streams? What are some of the other channels or mediums of which you can do business? How can you ensure that your receivables and the payments owed are being able to be collected on a timely basis? How can you pay your payables in a timely basis?
  2. Look at all of the digital channels available. Think about online delivery. During COVID and beyond, we’ve seen consumers purchase more and more goods and services online. So, it’s important for entrepreneurs to think about how they can be innovative with their online delivery, during this time and beyond. Because there are going to be some lessons learned; you’re going to be able to generate some additional revenue streams that you may have not thought of pre-COVID.
  3. Finding different ways of interacting with the customers, finding different ways of interacting with your advisors − now it might not be face-to-face but it’s virtual. It’s all about being flexible.

What are some of the new normal realities regarding accessing capital?

The best time to access capital is obviously when your business doesn’t need it. And the best time to build up emergency reserve is when your business is thriving. There are some real lessons that we have learned during COVID, and that is how we can plan for eventual downturns that we may face. Make sure you have a sound business plan, review cashflow projections, and incorporate digital and technology and resilience into your business plan.

From an HR perspective, why are female entrepreneurs afraid to take that risk?

Naomi Shaw, Senior Vice President, Human Resources at Scotiabank notes similar behaviours in HR as were mentioned about financing. She sees it when women are competing for jobs. For a promotion for example, you talked about ticking the boxes, women tend to want to tick off more of the boxes than a male candidate would for a job. And the chance of success for a woman then who competes for a job and gets the job − is a lot higher. What’s fascinating is that when women apply for a position, they need to have -- let’s say there are eight or ten characteristics for that position, they need to at least have eight or nine, where their male counterparts could have two or three and still feel comfortable to apply for the position.

The pandemic has been a real test of leadership. Naomi feels fortunate because in her role, not only does she get to be a leader, but she also gets to learn from leaders who have managed the process very well, and maybe some less well. From her experience in observing leaders, she observed that business leaders have managed to continue to generate sales and growth in this environment.

Hear are some tips for managing your team remotely:

  1. It’s critical, whether it’s employees or your clients, that they know that you are there for them, that you are available. Let them know that you are there to support and help them whenever they need you.
  2. Really, over-communicate.
  3. Be transparent as you can.
  4. Provide regular updates, and make it a regular discipline, whether it’s daily or weekly, to ensure that all stakeholders are updated. Make sure you have a cadence of communication, then people will know that they can count on that and they know when they will hear from you next.
  5. Take a regular pulse check with employees as well as regular pulse checks for client feedback.
  6. Automate processes. Think about how you do business to overcome the disruptions caused by social distancing. Build on the strength of all team members and offer constant encouragement and recognition.
  7. Ask for feedback and offer feedback regularly.


We have to accept and acknowledge that the environment is very different, it’s very difficult to know what’s going to happen and know what the outcomes are going to be, and so don’t be too hard on yourself. Be able to ebb and flow. And don’t be too hard on yourself. And fortunately, at Scotiabank as well, we do have additional tools and support available for employees, to help them with their mental health, you know, direct them to those tools that are available as well. There are some real wins and learnings that you don’t want to lose sight of when we start to come out of this situation. And we will come out stronger!

the entire conversation.