Six ways to support and empower Alberta’s women entrepreneurs
By ATB Financial 25 March 2021 5 min read
Small businesses have been top of mind this year as we all try to keep a business we love in business. It’s important now, more than ever, to support the heart and soul of our local economies—Albertan owned businesses.
Along with the many challenges that have come with owning a business this year, women entrepreneurs typically face additional challenges. Difficulties securing financial, social and human capital, along with a lack of role models and mentors can be major barriers to growth.
We’re shining a spotlight on women-owned businesses this month, as there are so many incredible women entrepreneurs in Alberta and just as many reasons to support them.
Here are a few ways that you can show your support.
1. Shop at their stores and purchase their services
While it’s easy to find what you’re looking for at major retailers, especially online, it’s worth the effort to seek out local, women-owned businesses. The quality, uniqueness and personalization that many small and medium sized businesses offer is second to none.
Choosing where you spend your money has a massive impact, especially when it's with a small business. And with many small shops operating online, or on Instagram and Facebook, it’s easy to vote with your wallet and support the things that matter to you.
2. Support them on social media
Engaging with your favourite women-owned businesses’ content on social media can improve the visibility and reach of their brand.
A simple like or comment can go a long way for a small business. Engaging with social media posts often makes them more discoverable, which can lead to their next great customer.
3. Offer your expertise
If you’re a business owner, or have relevant industry knowledge or expertise, such as marketing, accounting or operations management, you may be able to help a small business.
Sharing knowledge or expertise can often be more beneficial to a small business than monetary support. Lending your time in this way can be both incredibly helpful and rewarding.
4. Be a champion for women-owned businesses
Once you find a business, product or service that you love, share it with your community. Recommend them, write a review, talk about them and let people know why you’re a loyal customer.
5. Support crowdfunding campaigns
Firms owned by men are more likely to receive venture capital or angel funding and other forms of leverage such as trade credit or capital leasing.
Women entrepreneurs are also less likely than their male counterparts to seek and receive financing (32 per cent versus 38 per cent), according to The State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada report.
These challenges that women face surrounding access to traditional financing are often a barrier to growth, however female entrepreneurs are excelling at a new way of raising capital: crowdfunding.
6. Seek out and support businesses owned by Black, Indigenous, and all women of colour
Many marginalized business owners lack generational wealth and access to funding due to systemic racism and oppression.
These kinds of additional barriers to growth can make it extremely difficult to grow from a small business, to midsize, and beyond.
The first five tips in this list are a great start in supporting businesses owned by women of colour, but the intent is much greater than supporting in the short term—it’s building and supporting belonging and community, and amplifying voices.
“If you have the capacity to purchase from somewhere that is local, that is woman-owned, that is Black-owned or minority-owned, spending your money and your resources into your community is something that everybody should do.
We have to think of ourselves as a bigger community. Don’t think of it as just supporting a Black-owned business; you’re supporting people within your community who have a lesser network of support.” Sara Awatta, owner of Oonsie Boutique.
Where can I find women-owned Alberta businesses?
The first step in supporting Alberta’s women-owned businesses is to seek them out. Here are a few ways to find your next favourite business.
The ATB Marketplace
The ATB marketplace was created in 2020 in support of the many incredible entrepreneurs in our province. If you’re looking to shop local, it’s a great place to start. Our women-owned business collection includes over 50 businesses and counting.
Crowdfunding campaigns and platforms are a great way for entrepreneurs to not only raise capital, but to test their products in the market. This is what makes them a great place to find new and innovative businesses.
Rewards based crowdfunding platforms, like ATB’s Build Her Business and ATB BoostR, allow you to financially support a small business in exchange for a reward. Check out the recent campaigns and give a local business a boost.
Makers markets are the perfect place to find small businesses creating local, artisan products. A quick online search will bring up the many markets that pop up year round in the province, especially around the holidays. These markets typically have a high ratio of women-owned businesses and many of them have shifted to online markets during the past year. Royal Bison, BOM YEG, Market Collective and Black-owned Marketplace are four great examples from Edmonton and Calgary.
There are also many online resources that make it easy to find what you’re looking for, such as Find Black, an online directory for Black-owned businesses, professionals and services in Calgary and Edmonton.
Social media hashtags
Hashtags can be a great resource in discovering local, women-owned businesses— #AlbertaWomenEntrepreneurs is a great place to start.
Try a few hashtag combinations of what you’re looking for and where, such as #BlackOwnedYyc. After a few combinations you’ll be down the rabbit hole in no time discovering the exceptional talent this province has to offer.