W Venture is a pilot program aimed at boosting the businesses of entrepreneurial women in Victoria and the Okanagan. Applications are open until the end of July 2020. (Stock photo)

W Venture is a pilot program aimed at boosting the businesses of entrepreneurial women in Victoria and the Okanagan. Applications are open until the end of July 2020. (Stock photo)

Pilot project aims to boost entrepreneurial women in the Okanagan

W Venture, a collaborative project, is open for applications until the end of July

A pilot program in Victoria and the Okanagan is looking to accelerate opportunities for entrepreneurial women.

W Venture is a three-month program created by Accelerate Okanagan, the University of Victoria and the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC), working alongside the Digital Technology Supercluster.

The program aims to provide women with the skills needed to address unique business challenges, so as to improve the chances of success for women-led businesses.

“We set out to co-create something that was truly collaborative and supported the unique needs of female entrepreneurs,” said Shelley Voyer, manager of the program.

“Women from across the province told us they wanted a program that is actionable and accountable while focusing on her unique journey. W Venture delivers on this promise. I hope any woman who is bold enough to build her own tech-enabled company applies.”

W Venture takes a personalized, hands-on approach using the expertise of mentors from the collaborating organizations, while connecting women entrepreneurs with peers from across the province.

Sue Paish, CEO of the Digital Technology Supercluster, says the program is a much-needed step in helping women entrepreneurs overcome systemic challenges.

“W Venture is one of several projects in our Capacity Building Program that seeks to close the gap and help women entrepreneurs succeed and our communities to thrive. Women-led businesses are a vital force for a vibrant economy,” Parish said.

According to the collaborators, women make up 39 per cent of the tech workforce in the Okanagan while just 10 per cent of Victoria’s companies have a female founder.

Due to COVID-19, the program will be delivered remotely. The collaborators noted that this will in fact allow for a greater reach, as women entrepreneurs from across the province will be able to access the program.

A total of $632,000 has been invested into the project, including a $474,000 investment by the Digital Technology Supercluster.

Applications are open until July 31, and the pilot program is set to kick off in early September.

For more information, visit www.wventure.ca.

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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