By Ewa Chwojko-Srawley

After a two-year hiatus, Wonder Women: Women in Business Conference, hosted by the Georgina Chamber of Commerce on September 23, presented local businesswomen and future entrepreneurs with a forum to exchange ideas and network.

The full-day conference featured several “Wonder Women,” including Pooja Handa, co-host of CHFI’s weekday morning show, as the keynote speaker, and local businesswomen as panel speakers, including Sandra Hutchings, Kaitlin Ward, Melisa Sedore and Amanda Gordon.

The breakout sessions, which included topics like social media and digital marketing, were hosted by Portia Chambers, Vicky McGrath, and Jennifer Anderson.

“This conference is all about recovery. It’s open to everybody, but women in business face specific challenges. Today we can share our experiences and support each other,” said Jennifer Anderson, the Chamber’s Executive Director.

According to a recent survey, the number of Canadian women entrepreneurs has grown substantially since the late 70s. There were 982,600 self-employed women in 2021, up 315 per cent from 311,600 in 1976.

Still, the Canadian Women’s Foundation survey indicates that about two in five moms confirm they put their career on the back burner to manage home and caregiving responsibilities.

Zaheeda Rahim, Cheryl Wrigley, Felicia Savella & Yoonie Burford

Zaheeda Rahim, who has run a car rental business in Keswick for nine years, admits it isn’t easy for entrepreneurial moms.

“Managing a business and taking care of a family was especially tough during the pandemic. We are in recovery mode, and I find it helpful learning how other businesswomen navigate through challenges,” she said.

Many women who joined the conference were looking for reassurance and inspiration and appreciated the honesty of the discussions.

“We can share our experiences, even the bad ones. Meeting fellow women entrepreneurs who understand our challenges boosts my confidence,” said Yoonie Burford, who is in the real estate business.

Felicia Savella agrees. “I am here because I wanted to be surrounded by like-minded women. I feel no competition. On the contrary, we support each other,” she said.

The participants could also learn specific skills, including how to market their business using social media.

“I signed up for the social media workshop. I am old-school, and I need to catch up,” said Cheryl Wrigley, a pet supply business owner.

Jennifer & Faith Anderson

The conference also inspired the next generation of women entrepreneurs.

Faith Anderson, a grade 12 student, admits that meeting all these successful women entrepreneurs was eye-opening.

“I am still searching for my place in the world, and today I learned that there are so many exciting possibilities! I expanded my knowledge well beyond what I could learn at school,” she said.



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