Access to critical funding and resources is still challenging for Canadian women entrepreneurs. Here’s how Stacy’s is helping.
Though there are more than 1.1 million women entrepreneurs in Canada1, they only receive an estimated 4 per cent of venture capital funding2. Additionally, only about half of Canadian women entrepreneurs are aware of the support programs available to them or believe they have a strong network of support and mentorship3.
Stacy’s Pita Chips has a longstanding commitment to helping women entrepreneurs get the resources they need. In 2019, the Stacy’s brand officially launched the Stacy’s Rise Project, a grant and mentorship program and has supported more than 50 women founders with over $450,000 (USD) in grants.
In 2022, the Stacy’s Rise Project expanded into Canada for the first time, as part of the brand’s effort to support women entrepreneurs across North America. Canadian founders had the chance to receive a grant of $15,000 (CAD) and gain access to once-in-a-lifetime mentorship opportunities with PepsiCo Foods Canada and Frito-Lay leadership.
This year, the Stacy’s brand is recognizing four founders from across the country:
Founder of Choose Life Foods, the home of plant-based Caribbean Goodness.
Elaine Tan Comeau
Founder of Easy Daysies Ltd. a creator of award winning daily visual schedules to help children, adults and families have easier days.
Tobique First Nation, NB
Founder of Wabanaki Maple, a completely Indigenous, women-owned, and unique maple syrup company located in Neqotkuk (Tobique) First Nation.
Founder of 7 Summits Snacks, a women-owned and led superfood chocolate company designed to ‘fuel your next adventure’.
We talked to Jess Spaulding, Chief Marketing Officer at PepsiCo Foods Canada who launched the initiative in the U.S. and has now brought the program to Canada
Why is it important for programs like the Stacy’s Rise Project to continue expanding?
In Canada, so many women entrepreneurs face barriers to proper funding and mentorship, which limits their professional growth. For this reason and many others, it’s important to have programs like the Stacy’s Rise Project dedicated to supporting women business owners. We’re excited to support the communities in which we operate, and know that announcing our first-ever Canadian class of recipients is just the beginning of recognizing the incredible women entrepreneurs in this country.
How do programs like the Stacy’s Rise Project bring us closer to gender parity in the entrepreneurial ecosystem?
We know there is a lot more work to be done to help women entrepreneurs have the resources to rise to their full potential.
The numbers are still sobering, as almost half of Canadians (45 per cent) believe that one of the top barriers to the success of women entrepreneurs is a lack of funding, closely followed by a lack of mentorship (36 per cent)3. Having a professional mentor is consistently cited as a key to women advancing in the workplace — so it’s important to give our first-ever Canadian Stacy’s Rise Project class access not only to funding, but also to a mentorship community, including PepsiCo Foods Canada and Frito-Lay leadership, which they can lean on for support.
We’re also mindful that the entrepreneurial ecosystem leans towards the technology and manufacturing sectors where women are more absent, and as a result, contributions to the sectors where women are more present like food, health, beauty, and culture often get overlooked. The Stacy’s Rise Project continues to empower women with businesses in many sectors in hopes to uplift more of the women founders in need of support.
A former school teacher, Elaine Tan Comeau, Founder of Easy Daysies, is one of four entrepreneurs selected for the first-ever Canadian Stacy’s Rise Project class.
What does it mean to you and your business to be selected by the Stacy’s Rise Project?
I am thrilled, honoured, and grateful to have been selected. I have been needing help and direction for so long, and this incredible opportunity is like no other — a marriage of mentorship and a grant.
Finding a mentor can be a challenge for many women founders, and I’ve learned throughout my entrepreneurial journey that you can’t act on every piece of advice that is given to you. That’s why I am so grateful for the mentorship opportunity I have with the Stacy’s Rise Project – I’m able to connect with experts in product sales and marketing, and who will help guide me so this grant propels my business. That support is really priceless.
It’s very important to me that my kids know that no matter who you are, you should take risks to pursue your passions, innovate and help create solutions to problems. I want to be an example worthy of being followed, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the Stacy’s Rise Project community and to continue to share my story.
To learn more about the program and be the first to know when applications open for 2023, visit stacysriseproject.ca.
1 Source: Cukier, W., Mo, G. Y., Chavoushi, Z. H., Borova, B., Osten, V. (2022). The State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada 2022. Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.
2 Source: Minister Nq launches call for applications to deliver the Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative. Government of Canada.
3 Source: From February 11-13 2022, an online survey commissioned by the Stacy’s brand of 2,758 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Maru Voice Canada panelists was executed by Maru/Blue.