Canada’s business and community leaders know the future is in good hands, thanks to ambiSHEous™, an Ottawa-based leadership program changing the game for girls. This week, 26 up-and-coming business, political, and social impact leaders—all girls in grades 7-10 from across the Ottawa region—shared their ambitions, advanced their entrepreneurial ideas, and received mentorship from some of Canada’s top private and public sector leaders.
Over the course of a two-day StartUp Self™ Workshop, proudly supported by Interac Corp. during Financial Literacy Month, ambiSHEous™ equipped girls with the actionable skills, real-life knowledge and experience-based confidence they need to navigate towards independence, make a positive impact, and shape a more powerful future for themselves and their communities.
“At ambiSHEous™, we believe today’s girls are a promising and powerful force,” said Katharine Cornfield, Founder of ambiSHEous. “By empowering girls to take action on their ideas—and by giving them the right tools and support—we’re nurturing their ambition and helping them to become exactly the kind of leaders the world needs.”
“We’re so proud to work with ambiSHEous and to support these amazing young women,” said Daria Hill, Director of Corporate Communications at Interac. “By equipping them with digital and financial literacy skills, and giving them visibility to industry leaders, we are helping ensure they are well-equipped to be strong contributors to Canada’s economy in the future. At Interac, we are committed to helping Canadians – both individuals and businesses, succeed in today’s digital economy.”
The StartUp Self™ program takes direct aim at Canada’s gender leadership gap. Just 16 per cent of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses are majority-owned by women (ISED, 2018) and just 15 per cent of private sector CEOs are women (McKinsey, 2017). Furthermore, Canadian women are 13 per cent more likely than men to respond “don’t know” to financial literacy questions (Statistics Canada, 2016). For these reasons, the economic and political empowerment of girls is core to the StartUp Self™ approach. By combining financial, digital, and civic literacy with entrepreneurship, ambiSHEous™ is equipping girls with the critical skills and knowledge they need to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.
Throughout the workshop, participants used this knowledge to develop and pitch entrepreneurial ideas around pet insurance, adoption services, inclusive teen centres, bee-friendly florists, natural hair products, innovative shoes, and more.
“I’ve been thinking about a business idea since I was 10 years old,” said Megan Caldwell, a grade 8 student from Embrun, Ontario. “The ambiSHEous experience has helped me to develop that idea and I’ve learned the skills I need to create a business around it.”
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