Grant Funding Awarded to Island Programs for Women in Business

$50,000 Catalyst for Growth Fund Helps Grow Economic Impact of Women with Programs to Support Gender Diversity

Vancouver Island, BC (May 26, 2016) Seven Vancouver Island-based organizations have received grants to help them support the professional advancement of women.

PowHERhouse Performance Strategies, Inkwell, Ladies Learning Code Central Vancouver Island, Fortress Foundation, Westshore Soroptimist Society for Women & Families, Island Women in Technology and WillStep Coaching & Facilitation will all receive funding from the Catalyst for Growth project, an initiative of Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) that increases the impact of women in the BC economy by growing women in senior leadership, as entrepreneurs and in trades and emerging sectors.

Ladies Learning Code was  one of the initiatives to receive funding.
Ladies Learning Code was one of the initiatives to receive funding.

WEC has announced 19 projects around BC that will each receive a portion of the $50,000 Catalyst for Growth Fund, which provides grants to help organizations take action to support women professionals in BC.

The grant recipients were selected from over 50 applications. The funding was awarded to a variety of programs that champion women, promote a self-affirming mindset, foster leadership skills, help youth and women recognize the opportunities in trades and STEM industries, or contribute to a positive work environment for women.

“We received an overwhelming response to our call for action to shift the dial on gender equity in business. It’s inspiring to see so many organizations committed to affecting change in their communities, and it was incredibly difficult to narrow down the pool of high-quality applicants,” says Jill Earthy, Chair of the Catalyst for Growth Project Steering Committee.

In 2014-2015, over 750 people gathered at dialogues in the Okanagan, Lower Mainland, Northern BC, the Northwest and Vancouver Island to discuss what can be done to support women in business in each region. The resulting recommendations provided a blueprint for how individuals, organizations and government can take action.

The Catalyst for Growth Fund was created to help organizations address the issues generated at the regional dialogues, and the fund recipients will report on their impact at year-end.

“We look forward to seeing their results as they continue the momentum that began at the first BC Economic Forum in 2014,” says Earthy.

Funded in part by Status of Women Canada, the Catalyst for Growth project is an initiative of WEC in collaboration with the WEB Alliance and the Premier’s Women’s Economic Council as well as many other supporting organizations around the province.

“We cherish our place in the ecosystem of support for women in business, and this collaborative project is an opportunity to execute local solutions by working with leading organizations that are passionate about supporting the professional advancement of women,” says Laurel Douglas, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre.

WEC is a BC-based non-profit that provides business loans, skills training, advice and mentoring to women entrepreneurs. Since its inception in 1995, WEC has provided 83,510 business advisory and training sessions, and responded to over 100,500 requests for business information from women who wanted to start, grow and succeed in their business. WEC has provided $50.4 million in business loans, and its direct and leveraged financing has resulted in over $1.51 billion in economic activity in the province since 1995.

To learn more about the projects funded by the Catalyst for Growth project, visit or call 1.800.643.7014 to get connected today.