Women important part of business community: Chamber

Province marking Women Entrepreneurs Week

As part of Women Entrepreneurs Week May 17-23, the Government of Saskatchewan is recognizing the province’s 33,300 female business owners for their contributions to the economy and labour market.

One in every eight women employed in Saskatchewan runs her own business, which puts female entrepreneurship in the province above the national average and fourth highest among provinces.

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“Saskatchewan women have built familiar brands and created markets across North America,” Minister Responsible for the Status of Women Tina Beaudry-Mellor said in a release Tuesday.  “As we emerge from COVID-19 restrictions, I encourage residents as they look to support local businesses to also look for ways to support women led businesses who make significant contributions to the Saskatchewan economy.”

Locally, theYorkton Chamber of Commerce also salutes the women entrepreneurs in the city and surrounding area. 

“Most of the businesses owned by women are very small, employing only the woman herself or up to four or five additional employees,” noted Chamber executive director Juanita Polegi.  “But when you calculate the number of women-owned businesses and the number of employees, those small businesses contribute significantly to the economy.”

Those women are also involved with the Chamber in the work it does, Polegi told Yorkton This Week.

“Many of the women who own their businesses are members of organizations such as the Chamber because they recognize that there is strength in numbers,” she said.  “Membership entitles them to information, advocacy and a support system.”

The Chamber’s 2020 Board of Directors has seven women Directors.  Of those five own or co-own their business and the other two are in senior management.   

“These women bring to the Board unique insights and wise business acumen,” said Polegi.

Throughout Women Entrepreneurs Week, the Status of Women Office will profile Saskatchewan businesswomen and their creativity, innovation and resiliency.  The office also congratulates the membership-driven Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan for 25 years of supporting and building community with business advice, financing, training and mentoring.

“Women Entrepreneurs Week is a time to recognize the many Saskatchewan females who have worked hard to start their own businesses, while creating jobs and opportunities for others,” Trade and Export Development Minister Jeremy Harrison said in the provincial release  “Their resiliency during this unprecedented time truly shows as these businesses continue to play a role in contributing to the province’s economy and enhancing the quality of life for all.”

To support local businesses and their employees during COVID-19, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the $1 million “Together We Stand” initiative on May 1.  Funding will be used by Chambers of Commerce across the province to encourage residents to shop local.

The province also implemented the $50 million Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment on April 9, to provide grants to eligible small and medium-sized enterprises that temporarily closed or substantially curtailed their operations as a result of public health orders related to COVID-19.  This program has been extended for the month of May.

Details on business supports can be found on the Government of Saskatchewan website or by contacting the province’s Business Response Team at 1-844-800-8688.

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