| March 8, 2023
Did you know that the Futurpreneur team includes 62% employees identifying as women, including half of our senior leadership? That’s not all, 44% of all Futurpreneur-supported businesses are led by women. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate women-owned businesses by hearing directly from the entrepreneurs about their experiences: challenges, achievements, and the way forward.
Carolann Robyn Cruz is an Indigenous entrepreneur and founder of Enn Taant, a camping gear and supplies business in Manitoba. Robyn has been an outdoor enthusiast, and her love for camping started as a child, raised by a tight-knit Metis family full of outdoorsy folks.
Accessibility to equipment is a major factor for campers and Cruz wanted to make, “… camping easy and accessible for EVERYONE by providing and setting up good quality camping gear. Our priority is to make sure everyone gets an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.”
Owner and founder of Mint+Grey, Sumru Sezer, moved to Canada in 2018, and missed the comfort of Turkish towels in the country. She found a gap in the market between microfiber and cotton terry towels and decided to launch her own brand of premium quality, authentic Turkish towels for self-caring, active living, environmentally conscious people.
Anna Chan from myMomentum talks about the tipping point in her life, “I felt workplace burnout from leading a startup during its high growth phase back in 2015, and knew it was time for me to rediscover my purpose. I became a fitness coach and during this time, found the fundamental problem of the lack of empathy surrounding wellness.” She launched myMomentum, a B2B company that provides people-first companies with an easy and cost-effective way to show their care for their employees’ well-being via a personalized app.
Her love for cocoa tea (Jamaican hot chocolate) that she drank as a child with her grandfather inspired Kenesha Lewis to start her own business, One More Cocoa. According to Lewis, she wanted to create a brand that would, “bring some of my Caribbean heritage, nostalgic things from my childhood and simple flavours we all love, together.”
Talking about the challenges they faced while starting their businesses, Cruz says, “The biggest challenges that I faced when starting up last year was gaining access to capital, especially after the pandemic. Lenders seemed more apprehensive to lend to a tourism startup after we all witnessed how much of an impact it had on worldwide tourism.”
Sezer feels issues like self-doubt and burnout are real and all entrepreneurs go through it at some point in their journey. She made the decision to take one step at a time and allowed herself to make mistakes and improve on them as she went along.
Balancing the journey of motherhood, and being a non-technical solo founder was extremely challenging for Chan. Securing funding is another big hurdle for business owners, so she leaned on alternative and less traditional ways to fund myMomentum in the early days and doubled down on revenue generation.
Speaking about the role Futurpreneur played in achieving her dreams, Lewis shares, “We received our largest order to date and were unsure how to process such a large order without the correct equipment. With the Futurpreneur loan and mentorship, we were able to get what we needed. Working with a mentor has been great. They were able to give me an outside perspective on the things I needed to do to move forward.”
Sezer says, “Apart from funding, my Futurpreneur mentors, and advisors helped me create an outlet for my ideas, and structure to my plans. Starting as a single individual, building the pillars and creating the future of your business can feel lonely. Structure brings clarity to your vision and people provide the companionship.”
In Chan’s words, “Not only did Futurpreneur fuel our traction in our early days by funding us in 2018 alongside BDC, but we’ve been exposed to a host of speaking and networking opportunities to grow our brand awareness. Having an organization believe in and support us has allowed us to build the confidence to aggressively go after our goals!”
“I owe Futurpreneur a huge amount of credit for Enn Taant’s success from the idea stage to launch and beyond. They have provided not only financial support, but also avenues to meet fellow entrepreneurs, mentorship, and many important business connections,” states Cruz.
For their final piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, Sezer exclaims, “Don’t postpone! If you have it in your heart, if you know you need to take the step, if you think it’s the time, do it.”
Lewis shares her words of wisdom, “Find something you enjoy doing and that you are passionate about. Learn as much as you can about it and if it fills you with pride and enjoyment, run with it. Start your business with a solid plan, passion for what you’re selling and the drive to grow it to where you want to take it. This attitude will help in those low moments, in uncertain times and push you to do more to succeed.”
“Don’t give up. Make sure your idea is simple. Be prepared to pivot where it is required and be at peace with it, things won’t always be easy, but it will be easier when you can adapt,” advises Cruz.
Surrounding yourself with the right people is one of Chan’s big learnings, “Your team is the heart of your organization, and you want to make sure that these are the people who will bring in their own unique perspectives and push the boundaries of what seems possible. Additionally, focus and set hard unapologetic boundaries to care for yourself – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. We can, and deserve, an amazing life too – we aren’t just entrepreneurs!”
We hope that the inspiring stories of these successful business leaders will motivate you to embark on your own entrepreneurial journey and turn your dream business into a reality!