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Women's Employment Social Enterprise Accelerator

On March 20, the Toronto Enterprise Fund hosted a Business Idea Pitch Night, the culminating event in its Women’s Employment Social Enterprise Accelerator. Over the course of the evening, six emerging social entrepreneurs pitched their employment social enterprise ideas to a panel of expert judges.

 Each of the ideas was for a business that would create training and employment opportunities for women facing barriers to the labour market, including women who have experienced domestic violence, women with mental illness, Indigenous women facing barriers to the labour market and newcomer women.

Judges assessed the pitches for the clarity of the business idea (what product or service would be sold, and to what degree is there an existing market?) in addition to the quality of the supported employment the enterprise would provide (who would be the enterprises’ ‘target population’ and how would they be supported through employment within the enterprise?).

The winners:

  • Tomi Gbeleyi is the Founder of with Makeup for Melanin Girls, an existing enterprise that makes beauty products for women of colour. MFMG is seeking to create an ‘embedded’ employment social enterprise unit within its business, creating transitional employment opportunities for women of colour facing barriers to employment within the beauty industry.
  • Michelle McCaugherty is the Social Enterprise Project Manager with Spread the Love Bridal Boutique, a social enterprise of Kingston-based Dawn House, a multi-service charity. Through their consignment bridal boutique social enterprise, Dawn House seeks to employ women transitioning out of homelessness.
  • Byron Gray is the Philanthropic Developer with the Jane/Finch Centre, an agency that is seeking to create a ‘social supermarket’. The supermarket will aim to provide low-cost food products to low-income community members while employing women facing barriers to employment from the Jane/ Finch community.

Each winner received an award of $2,000 to support the development of their employment social enterprise concept. The three other finalists in the accelerator program were Dawn Miracle, Candace Gagne and Esra Mohammed.

The pitch night was the culmination of a 3-month accelerator program, which provided 30 emerging entrepreneurs with supports to develop their emerging employment social enterprise idea. Over the course of the program, entrepreneurs explored a variety of business ideas, prospective employment and training models, and learned to pitch their business idea.

The Toronto Enterprise Fund congratulates all of the participants of the Women’s Employment Social Enterprise Accelerator. We also thank the Ministry of the Status of Women for their support for this innovative program.

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