Women Founders, Business Owners and Entrepreneurs


Our work continues

Invest Ottawa’s vision is for Canada’s Capital to be the best city in the world for all women founders and business owners to launch, grow and scale commercially successful, globally oriented and sustainable companies.

We are on a journey that we know will take time, long-standing leadership, and extensive community collaboration. But we’re determined to move the dial and to create long-lasting change.

More progress must be made, but here’s an update of where we stand today:

We are here for all women

When we use the term ‘women,’ we refer to all individuals who identify as women. This includes women of colour, transgender women, and women with gender-diverse identities, including non-binary and gender non-conforming women (as we know that gender is fluid and can change throughout one’s lifetime). These women have historically and systemically been excluded from many mainstream programs, services, and opportunities. Invest Ottawa is making a concerted effort to prioritize equity, access, and inclusion in everything we do. Our goal is to ensure that anyone who would like to access our programs and services truly feels welcome and supported. We recognize that every founder has unique needs and lived experiences and that, in some cases, we are not currently well equipped to address all of these unique needs. We have not yet systematically assessed how we can enhance our programming and advisory to best support gender-diverse founders in our organizations. As an example, our advisors and program teams have not yet received training to help them address the needs of racialized and gender-diverse founders. However, this is now in process at Invest Ottawa. Leveraging the diversity of our partners and networks, our internal DEI experts, and our generous, committed community, we will do our best to support the needs of all participants and are committed to listening, learning, and helping every founder to thrive.

Our community has a shared goal: to inspire, equip and empower women professionally. Every year, in honour of International Women's Day, folks form across the region come together for International Women's Week (IWW). Help expedite change and get involved.

Our vision

For Ottawa to be the best city in the world for women founders and business owners to build, launch, grow and scale commercially successful, globally oriented and sustainable companies.

To establish Ottawa as an internationally recognized region with a critical mass of top women business founders and owners where opportunity abounds, and barriers are eliminated.

Meet the Women Founders and Owners Subcommittee:

Shavonne Hasfal-McIntosh
Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Wealthsimple
Director of the Board, Subcommittee Chair

Thusha Agampodi
Director of Engineering, Aurora Solar
Clare Beckton
Founder, Own Your Own Success
Dipalli Bhatt
Head of Marketing, Incognito Software Systems
Karla Briones
Founder, Karla Briones Consulting, Business Advisor, Invest Ottawa
Mojdeh Cox
President & CEO, Community Builder, Anti-Racism & Human Rights Leader
Aquilas K. Dapaah
Trail Lawyer, Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General; Co-founder, The Rise Initiative
Jennifer Francis
Director of the Board, Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards; Chair, Capital Angel Network
Shavonne Hasfal-McIntosh
Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Wealthsimple
Bree Jamieson-Holloway
Founder & Managing Lawyer, Jamieson Law
Katie LeClair
Consultant, Marketing & Communications
Giovanna Mingarelli
CEO & Co-founder, M&C Consulting
Serena Nguyen
Chief of Staff, MaRS Discovery District; Executive Director, Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism (CILAR)
Nick Quain
Vice President, Venture Development, Invest Ottawa
Susan Richards
Founder and Managing Partner, numbercrunch
Sara Roach-Lewis
Gender Diversity Advisor
Solmaz Shahalizadeh
Founding Partner, Backbone Angels
Sonya Shorey
Vice President, Strategy, Marketing & Communications, Invest Ottawa
Michael Tremblay
President and CEO, Invest Ottawa
Heather Ward
Co-founder & President, Hyperion Global Energy
Diane Watson
Chair, Women in Communications and Technology, National Capital Region; Program Manager, Nokia

Thank you. 

Our retiring members will continue to serve as champions, advisors and advocates.

Wendy Knight Agard
Executive Coach and Team Lead, Shopify; Author; TEDx Speaker
Eli Fathi
Chairman of the Board, MindBridge
Janice McDonald
Award Winning Entrepreneur; Bestselling Author; Board Director; Fearless Women Podcast; Speaker
Jamie Petten
Executive Director, Kanata North Business Association
Terri Storey
CEO, iHealthOX

This is a journey. 

We have a long way to go, but we’re focused on growth and progress.

We're creating a culture of belonging, and infusing gender diversity and inclusion into our programs, operations and governance. This represents key strategic goals for our organization.


To proceed with intention, taking action internally and externally.  To ensure we reflect our values. To work with entrepreneurs – with a special focus on women founders – from the beginning idea-stage throughout the entire scale-up process. To address individual and ecosystem challenges and provide tools for long-term, sustainable success.


  • Near-term establish the foundation: Build a robust pipeline of Ottawa founders and the value delivered by Invest Ottawa to women-owned businesses
  • Medium-term –drive measurable progress towards goals: Continued implementation and ramp-up of new programs and services that expand the capabilities and impact of women founders
  • Long-term – expand global leadership and collaboration: Cooperation on big-picture goals and challenges to create more significant market and investment opportunity for women founders


How we do this:




  • Increase the visibility of women founders
  • Create new content and promotional platforms
  • Amplify the voice and impact of women founders


  • Inspire through role models and top leaders
  • Provide training sessions, workshops and events
  • Create women peer-to-peer groups


  • Enable through mentorship
  • Enhance R&D, business and market capabilities
  • Evolve and create new programs and services


  • Get women engaged
  • Facilitate linkages to mentors, investors and clients
  • Drive new opportunity in national and global networks

Have a story to share or opportunities to promote? Connect with us.

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Be a champion for women in leadership: help promote Ottawa’s initiative!

Have a question, suggestion, or want to learn more? Contact:

Sonya Shorey, Vice President, Strategy, Marketing and Communications, Invest Ottawa & Bayview Yards: [email protected]