Leading Through Innovation: Women-owned Businesses Who Refused to Give Up During the 2020 Crisis

The story of the impact of the pandemic on Canadian businesses is told repeatedly in statistics – hard numbers and hard facts. We know that Canadian women-businesses have suffered from the economic ravages of the pandemic, but overall have actually fared marginally better than other business groups by being able to respond quicker and in more innovative ways. The most relateable evidence comes not just from statistics, but real life stories from women entrepreneurs themselves who have found their businesses up-ended in a very short time.

What these stories tell will form an invaluable resource as we move forward in our economic recovery and help us lay the groundwork to learn from the challenges we have faced and implement the changes that must be undertaken. Why did some businesses survive, while others did not? While there is no one answer, there is a commonality when you talk to the survivors – that of being able to draw on their core values, their mission and vision, their best practices developed during the “good times” that have withstood the “worst of times”.

WBE Canada hosted an inspiring panel of women entrepreneurs at its Annual Conference in November 2020 to hear the creative ideas and innovative approaches they undertook in response to the pandemic. Facilitated by Carol Attak, Senior Manager of Global Supplier Diversity and Sustainability at BMO, the panel included Jennifer Menard-Shand, Founder and CEO of Staff Shop Inc., Pauline Caballero, Chief Revenue Officer at Buckland, Shawna Pereira, Co-Founder and Creative Director at Wonderkind Inc., and Tanya Walker, Lawyer and Managing Partner at Walker Law.

We are pleased to share with you the engaging and inspiring conversation that took place as these four WBEs openly discussed how they faced the cascading challenges back in March, how they relied on their core values as business owners, their leadership skills, their teams, the value of their WBE certification and the importance of communication both internally and externally to continue growing.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic differs from business to business. Being able to respond quickly, keeping your core values in front of you, focusing on what you can control, communicating effectively on all levels, relying on your teams, all foster the necessary abilities to change direction as necessary, innovate creatively and move forward.

About WBE Canada

Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada) is a Canadian non profit organization with a mission to empower Canadian Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) with equal access to corporate and public procurement. Our role is to certify, promote and develop women-owned businesses while also supporting our Corporate Member community with the access to a pool of business-ready suppliers. Since 2009 we’ve been certifying businesses that are 51% or more owned, managed and controlled by women and connecting them to supply chains.

Is your business majority owned, managed and controlled by a woman/women? Learn how to certify your business as WBE (Women Business Enterprise).