On the heels of announcing its new innovation centre in Toronto, Cisco Canada announced the Women Entrepreneurs’ Circle program to help female entrepreneurs access resources to start their businesses. Cisco will be working with partners like Communitech, Women of Influence, Completely Managed to make it happen.
“The Women Entrepreneurs’ Circle is an innovative way to support and advance women working in the technology sector. Partnering with Cisco Canada in this capacity allows us to connect business-minded women to world-class resources and opportunities,” said Alayne Hynes, talent program manager at Communitech.
The program functions in three main areas with the goal of helping entrepreneurs access technology to power their businesses and create a business strategy. Cisco will help entrepreneurs enhance their digital knowledge through its Cisco Canada Women Entrepreneur Academy, where they can access online training courses from Cisco’s Networking Academy that go over topics like mobility fundamentals, intro to cybersecurity, and intro to IoT.
At the same time, women will have access to a data centre powered by Cisco — called The Entrepreneur Xperience — which includes hardware like routers and phones required to unify business communications.
The third area of the program will run in collaboration with Communitech, and will have internship students from the University of Waterloo paired with entrepreneurs to help with business and digital strategy. “The free virtual courses will benefit women in our ecosystem as a self-guided learning tool, and being matched with an intern from the University of Waterloo is a wonderful opportunity for our entrepreneurs and students to grow together,” said Hynes.
The interns will be given access to Cisco’s DevNet crowdsourced developer community, and will also receive mentoring through the 12-week program that will, in turn, benefit the women entrepreneur’s program. The aim is to provide a well-rounded set of resources for women as they tackle common problems faced by all early stage entrepreneurs. According to Status of Women Canada, only 14 percent of small businesses are owned by women, while only four percent of medium-sized businesses were owned by women. However, women-owned businesses currently employ about 1.5 million Canadians, and the aggregate contribution of majority-owned women businesses was $148 billion.
“Research tells us that not only do these businesses boost Canada’s GDP, but they also increase national wellbeing and competitiveness, improve women’s employability and empowerment,” said Bernadette Wightman, president of Cisco Canada. “Cisco has committed to helping women to become more successful entrepreneurs by addressing some of the obstacles they face in building their IT capability and business resilience.”