International Women's Week
Women in Ottawa are building companies focused on long-term impact.
Get to know these inspiring entrepreneurs and leaders who we are so proud to work with.
“I’m a teacher by training. I realised early on that it was the students who were slipping through the cracks, the ones that were marginalized and not succeeding, that I was drawn towards. And I kept getting frustrated looking at how many students weren’t getting diagnosed, so very quickly I made them the focus of my journey... I made the very scary decision to leave my job so I could do something on a larger scale, start my business and reach more people.”
Heather Desjardins quit her job. She had “no connections, no money, no anything” but she knew she had to follow her passion. Early on, she turned to the Small Business Enterprise Centre: attended workshops, booked consultations with our partners and built a network at Bayview Yards. Today she has three staff members and just shy of 40 educators working for her. Read her story.
Izere Coffee is a family-run business co-founded by a mother-daughter team. In Ottawa, they sell high-quality Burundian beans at local shops. They also fill orders online and deliver to coffee lovers directly. But to know co-founder Deborah Ntawigirira is to know, Izere Coffee is so much more than that.
Izere Coffee is a direct trade business. In this context, that means they purchase beans from farmers (the producers) they know and choose to work with cooperatives that share their values. What’s behind the decision to operate this way? Deborah explained that through the business, they're committed to creating a higher quality of life for farmers. Find out more about this wonderful local company and how Deborah was able to access support through the Digital Main Street program.
Shanaz Siqouin grew up on the small island in Guyana. She was the youngest of 9 children. Her bustling family ran a small business and very early on she was exposed to practically every type of customer, supplier and employee you can imagine. During this time is when she also learned how to land a message.
Over her career, Shanaz coupled this street smarts with a formal education in business administration from Algonquin College. She applied her learnings and experiences in a variety of roles in industries ranging from multinational high-tech firms and government to not-for-profits. But, an entrepreneurial spirit was ingrained in her and when the opportunity arose to build a startup - once she was convinced - she was all-in.
Read her story and learn more about how AirShare Inc.'s scaling business has grown with support from the IO Accelerator program, Bayview Yards' Prototyping Lab and the ENCQOR 5G program.
“I love what we do because of who we help with our software; we build tools for forensic examiners to solve crimes using digital evidence. And I also love working here because of my team I’ve built here - a great talent set of individuals from Ottawa.”
Thusha Agampodi was the Engineering Manager at Magnet Forensics, a growing business that soft-landed in Ottawa a few years ago. The Global Expansion team worked with this scaling company through the city selection process when they we’re deciding where to expand operations. Now, Magnet Forensics runs their research and development office from Canada’s Capital City.