Ontario Cooperation Council receives FedDev funding to expand Francophone entrepreneurship


The Ontario Cooperation Council (OCC), also known as the Conseil de la coopération de l’Ontario, has received $285,749 from the federal government to expand its French-language entrepreneurship services to the Windsor-Essex Region.

“Francophone entrepreneurs in the Windsor-Essex area will be able to thrive with this new programming now available right at their doorstep.”

According to a census from Statistics Canada, Ontario has a Francophone population of more than 600,000 people, representing the largest Francophone community in Canada outside of Quebec. The OCC’s mission is to contribute to the development of the social economy in the Francophone community through cooperation. It achieves this by allowing cooperatives and social enterprises to consult, advance their interests, and support their development.

“The Conseil de la coopération de l’Ontario thought it was important to boost its presence in the Windsor-Essex region, and this has been done with the continued support of FedDev Ontario,” said Julien Geremie, director-general of the OCC. “We are already working on many projects in the Windsor area, and we are looking forward to strengthening our ties to the community there. Many training sessions will be offered, and all of the Conseil de la coopération de l’Ontario’s usual services will be available. I encourage the community to contact us to learn more about these services.”

Founded in 1964, the OCC offers education, promotion, collaboration and advisory services to support Francophone cooperatives and social enterprises in Ontario. Through its six offices across Ontario, Toronto, Thunder Bay, Ottawa, Sudbury, Timmons, and Windsor, the organization currently serves over 80 members and more than 300 partners across the province.

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At its recently-launched Windsor location, the OCC said it will provide mentoring, support programs, and training to help cooperatives and social enterprises scale. Francophone entrepreneurs, including immigrants, youth, and women, will be able to use the OCC’s networking sessions, as well as opportunities to pitch their projects to access development grants. A total of 75 businesses will participate in over 60 networking or training activities organized by the organization.

“The Government of Canada is proud to invest in this expansion of the Conseil de la coopération de l’Ontario’s services into a key region in southern Ontario,” said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development. “Francophone entrepreneurs in the Windsor-Essex area will be able to thrive with this new programming now available right at their doorstep, and the emphasis on social and cooperative entrepreneurship will reinforce the already strong networks in the community.”

The funding was made through FedDev Ontario, a regional development agency that delivers various programs, funding, and services to support innovation and economic growth in the southern Ontario region. Previous FedDev Ontario funding to the OCC includes $27,500, which was used to hire a youth intern for one year to support the development of youth cooperatives.

Not far from the Windsor-Essex region, Chatham-Kent has also made moves to foster a community of local entrepreneurship. It recently opened Soar Innovation, a new incubator and accelerator offering services to businesses that wish to scale-up, expand to new markets. The CCO opened its own Windsor office in March.

“Our government is pleased to support Francophones living in official language minority communities so they can build and grow their businesses, local economies and communities,” said Mélanie Joly, Minister of Tourism, Official Languages, and La Francophonie. “With expanded services in the Windsor-Essex region, the Conseil de la coopération de l’Ontario is reaching out to a community with unique needs and strengths that can be cultivated for the benefit of the entire region.”

Image courtesy CCO via Facebook

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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