With an office here in Vancouver-Fairview, WeBC supports women in starting, developing, maintaining, and selling a business. We spoke with Shauna Harper, once a WeBC volunteer and now the CEO.
What does WeBC do?
Shauna: WeBC has been around for 27 years – helping female entrepreneurs start and scale businesses through loans, skill development, and mentorships.
Only 38 percent of entrepreneurs are women, and one of the big things we’ve learned is that just 2.8 percent of female entrepreneurs access capital to support their business.
What barriers do women face in starting and running their own business?
Shauna: Statistics show that women need gender-lensed support. Only 10 percent of bank loans go to women, and there is clear systemic change that needs to happen.
Women are risk astute, so part of our support is ensuring that women know how to access capital and have the HR skills, marketing, operations skills to succeed.
We have learning cohorts specifically tailored to women, so they feel safe in that environment. We also run through the help of female volunteers who needed help before and have succeeded, and have come back to help other women.
WeBC has been running for 27 years – have you noticed much change in that time?
Shauna: Over the last 5-8 years, and especially the last 3 years during COVID, more light has been shone on the reality that there’s diversity among women entrepreneurs.
For example, we help Indigenous women, newcomer women, rural women – there’s all this intersectionality – and it’s important not to put all women in same box. There are so many layers to supporting women entrepreneurs and that’s one thing we’ve been focusing on more.
How can people support WeBC?
Shauna: We support with our money – people can make intentional purchases. Look at where your products come from and where you spend your money.
And if you know someone who is a female entrepreneur, let them know this support exists for them.
Remember that when you support women’s businesses, you’re supporting families, and you’re supporting the entire economy.
To lean more about WeBC, visit their website